- Written by GPO
Purim, one of Judaism's more colorful and popular holidays, is celebrated this year between sunset on Wednesday, 28 February, and sunset on Thursday, 1 March, in most of Israel – excluding Jerusalem where Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Thursday, 1 March, until sunset on Friday, 2 March (see below). Purim is not a public holiday in Israel, but many offices, shops, and public institutions (including the GPO) will operate on a reduced basis. Schools will be closed, but public transportation will operate as usual, and newspapers will be published.
Background to Purim
Purim commemorates the events described in the Book of Esther. In Esther 3:8, the anti-Semitic Haman, Grand Vizier of the Persian Empire, tells Persian King Ahasuerus that, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the peoples... in your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people, neither do they keep the king's laws. Therefore, it does the king no profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed...” Thus, Haman coined one of the most infamous anti-Semitic canards: That the Jews are a clannish and alien people who do not obey the laws of the land. At Haman's contrivance, a decree is then issued for all Jews in the Persian Empire to be massacred. But, as the Book of Esther subsequently relates, Haman’s plot was foiled and, “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor...a feast and a good day.” (8:16-17)
Throughout the centuries, Purim – which celebrates the miraculous salvation of the Jews and the thwarting of Haman’s genocidal plot – has traditionally symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over antisemitic tyranny. As such, Purim is a happy, carnival-like holiday.
The Fast of Esther
The day before Purim (Wednesday, 28 February this year) is a fast day known as the Fast of Esther, commemorating (inter alia) the fact that Queen Esther – the heroine of the Book of Esther – and the entire Persian Jewish community fasted (4:16) in advance of Queen Esther’s appeal for King Ahasuerus not to implement Haman’s genocidal plot. The fast will extend from before sunrise in the morning until sunset. Special prayers and scriptural readings are inserted into the synagogue service.
When the day before Purim falls on Shabbat, as it did last year, the Fast of Esther is brought forward to the preceding Thursday.
After sunset on Wednesday evening, 28 February, festive prayers will take place in synagogues, where the Book of Esther will also be read aloud. It is customary for people, especially children, to come to synagogue dressed in costume. During the reading of the Book of Esther, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, congregants traditionally make as much noise as possible in order to drown out his name – a reflection of God’s promise (Exodus 17:14) to, “blot out,” the Amalekite nation, of which Haman was a descendant; special Purim noisemakers may be used for this purpose. The Book of Esther will be read again during morning prayers on Thursday, 1 March. A special Purim prayer is inserted into the daily prayers and the blessing after meals.
On Purim, Jews are enjoined by the Book of Esther (9:22) to send gifts of food to each other, make special contributions to the poor, and have a festive holiday meal in the afternoon. To this end, the day is also marked by collections for various charities, and by people visiting neighbors and friends to deliver baskets of food, prominent among which are small, three-cornered, fruit-filled pastries known as Oznei Haman in Hebrew (Haman’s ears) orHamantaschen in Yiddish (Haman’s pockets).
At the festive meal, some maintain the custom of becoming so inebriated that they cannot distinguish between, “Blessed is Mordechai,” (Esther’s uncle and the hero of the Book of Esther) and, “Cursed is Haman.”
In Jerusalem, Purim is ordinarily celebrated one day later than it is in the rest of the world; accordingly, all Purim-related observances are postponed by one day. This practice originates from the fact that an extra day was prescribed for the Jews of Shushan (the modern Susa, one of the Persian Empire's four capitals) to defend themselves against their enemies. This second day is known as Shushan Purim. As mentioned in the Book of Esther itself (9:16-19), Jews living in walled cities (later defined by rabbinical authorities to mean walled cities at the time that Joshua entered the Land of Israel) celebrate Purim one day later than Jews living in unwalled cities. There are several other such cities in Israel where Shushan Purim is celebrated. In some cities whose status is in doubt, the Book of Esther will actually be read on both days.
In many places in Israel, Purim is marked by special parades; the most famous of these takes place in Tel Aviv. Many kindergartens, schools, synagogues, and towns will also host special Purim parties and carnivals.
Purim in Film
Following are clips from six films (courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive) that depict the various ways in which Purim has been celebrated:
Adloyada 1960 – Color scenes of the colorful procession in Tel Aviv 55 years ago.
Faces of Freedom (1960) – New immigrants are absorbed into Israeli society at the beginning of the 1960s. The film begins with a Purim carnival.
Springtime in Palestine (1928) - Comprehensive survey of the developing country in the 1920s. Includes a Bukharian Purim feast and scenes of the 1928 carnival in which Baruch Agadati appears with Tzipporah Tzabari, the first Purim queen of Tel Aviv (from 11:33 min).
Eretz Yisrael: Building Up the Jewish National Home (1934) – The film begins with scenes of the Adloyada in Tel Aviv. It continues with agricultural scenes in Kibbutz Ein Harod, Deganya A and the women’s agricultural school in Nahalal.
Edge of the West (1961) – A color film surveying Jewish life in Morocco in the early 1960s, including Purim celebrations (from 28:35 min.)
Hassidic Music (1994) – From the series “A People and Its Music” which depicts various Jewish music traditions. Includes scenes of Lubavitch Hassidim celebrating Purim (from 23:22 min.)
Purim Events in Jerusalem
Purim Events in Tel Aviv
The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, along with its many cultural institutions and partners, invites the general public to celebrate the Purim holiday throughout the city. A variety of performances, street carnivals and workshops will be held, catering to every possible age and interest.
Tel Aviv-Yafo is known for its vibrant and celebratory Purim atmosphere, and looks forward to creating it again this year for the many thousands of residents and visitors that come to the city to celebrate the holiday.
A curated selection of events is listed below, but a directory including many more can be found on the Municipality website (in Hebrew).
Purim Street Party
Friday, March 2 from 11:00-17:00
Kikar Hamedina, Tel Aviv-Yafo
The Purim Street Party is held annually by the Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality at Kikar Hamedina, in the North of the city. The 2017 event attracted over 100,000 people who came dressed in costumes to enjoy quality electronic music in a happening and positive atmosphere, and a similar turnout is expected this year. Leading DJs in the Tel Aviv music scene will play on a 360 degree stage erected in the center of the square, including performances by Muki and Subliminal.
An urban street show will also be held in the square, featuring a variety of merchandise for purchase. There will be an emphasis on ecologically friendly or recycled products, street culture and urban design.
The event is open to the general public at no charge, and will not be held in the case of rain.
Yafo Purim Carnival
Thursday, March 1 from 15:00-19:00
Davidoff Park, Ed Koch 10, Tel Aviv-Yafo
This Purim carnival held at Davidoff Park will feature a variety of family friendly attractions, including a mini amusement park with inflatable structures, fair stands and games, balloon-making, and circus and juggling workshops.
The event will also feature a bilingual stage show by the Almaina Theatre and performances by singer Adi Beatty and children’s performer Roy Boy.
The event is open to the general public at no charge.
Purim at "Hatachana" Tel Aviv's Old Railway Station
Thursday, March 1 and Saturday, March 3, various times
HaTachana - David Remez 4, Tel Aviv-Yafo
A variety of family friendly entertainment will be held at HaTachana (also known as The First Station,) Tel Aviv’s old railway station. Festivities begin at 10:30 am and include games, art activities and workshops for all ages. Entertainment will include an interactive magic show by Shai the Magician, a performance by the Neve Tzedek Community Center hip-hop band and “Miri Teshiri”, an inspiring musical adventure with a moral message.
The event is open to the general public at no charge.
Purim at the Opera House
Thursday, March 1 - Saturday, March 3, various times
28 Leonardo da Vinci, Tel Aviv-Yafo
The Tel Aviv Opera House will stage several children's shows during the Purim weekend as part of the Yaron festival. “Alice in Wonderland” will be featured, along with “What about the deer?”, a musical fantasy based on some of the most beloved Israeli songs of all time.
The shows are appropriate for ages 4 and up, and tickets can be purchased for 65 NIS at the Opera website: http://www.israel-
70s Disco Party in Givon Square
Saturday, March 3 at 12:00
Givon Square, Tel Aviv-Yafo
A Purim party for parents and children who share a love of dancing. Families are invited to Givon square to let loose and jam to some throwback tunes together.
The event is open to the general public at no charge.
Purim Adventures at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
February 28 from 10:00-13:00
24 King Shaul Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo
This Purim, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is hosting a schedule of art workshops for kids. A variety of different mediums will be explored, including self-portrait, landscape painting and mask making. The activities are suggested for ages 7-12.
In addition, entrance to the new “Soft Worlds” exhibition will be free for children up to the age of 18. The exhibition is an tactile exploration of soft material in sculpture, and visitors are invited to touch, squeeze and interact with the pieces on display.
Tickets are available at the museum or by phone: 03-6077020
Purim Salsa Party
February 26 from 20:00-23:00
This free event held at the Tel Aviv Municipality Building is a wonderful opportunity for dancers of every level to meet and celebrate Purim in a unique way. The first hour of the event will feature group salsa lessons led by volunteer organization Media Noche Tel Aviv/Menta. A salsa dance party will start at 21:00, giving participants an opportunity to show off their new skills.
The event is open to the general public at no charge.
Photo Ministry of Tourism
- Written by Buzzy Gordon
The Vietnamese calendar, like the Hebrew calendar, is lunar; and like the Jewish calendar, which celebrates spring with the holiday of Passover, the Vietnamese calendar marks the beginning of spring with the holiday of Tet. And just as the Hebrew month of Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year, Tet represents the Vietnamese New Year (Jews celebrate their actual new year in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar).
To celebrate Tet this year, the Year of the Dog, Vong -- one of Israel’s leading Vietnamese restaurants -- offered diners a special nine-course Vietnamese New Year’s banquet on Sunday, 18.2. The banquet, designed as a sharing menu for two people, comprised four starters, four main courses, one dessert, and a bottle of sparkling sake to top off the special occasion.
The special meal was conceived and executed by Van, Vong’s native Vietnamese culinary consultant, and featured traditional dishes that not only are not on the restaurant’s regular menu, but also were not modified to conform to Western/Israeli adaptations of Southeast Asian cuisine. As such, it was a unique gastronomic experience, of the kind that Vong sponsors on select occasions.
The feast commenced with four starter courses served to the center of the table on a large tray decorated with a banana leaf:
Bun Thit Ga Nuong. Chicken skewers marinated in fish sauce and lemongrass, served on a bed of thin rice noodles with cucumber sprouts and leafy green herbs.
Cha Ca Thi La. White fish fritters in tamarind sauce with shallots, dill, garlic and chili.
Cha Lua. Steamed sausage, served with assorted pickled vegetables.
Thit Bam. Zucchini stuffed with chicken, mushrooms, and glass noodles, in a rich chicken broth.
A bottle of refreshing sparkling sake accompanied these dishes and the four more that followed:
Va Ga Xao. Seared chicken in fish and oyster sauce, with crunchy bean noodles.
Tom Rim Thit Trung. A shrimp and chicken stew with quails’ eggs.
Banh Tet. Sticky rice, mash beans, cashew nut and coconut cream steamed in banana leaf.
Ca Com. Fried fresh anchovy coated in chili caramel.
The dinner concluded with a choice of three desserts taken from Vong’s daily menu: mango mousse, tapioca with fruit and peanuts, and caramelized bananas.
Website: http://www.vong.co.il/Photos Silvia Golan
- Written by Buzzy Gordon
The Israel chapter the Italian Academy of Cuisine (l’Accademia Italiana della Cucina) held its first dinner of 2018 on January 28 at Pronto, the Italian restaurant helmed by Chef David Frenkel. The symposiarchs of the evening were Academy Delegate Dr. Cinzia Klein and Ms. Aliza Radian.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Radian noted that in recent years, the Hebrew media had recognized Pronto as the best Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv.
Chef Frenkel himself won the prestigious San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna Cooking Cup as a result of his performance in the Venice competition in 2012.
Frenkel welcomed the group to his restaurant, noting that under owner Rafi Adar, Pronto was the first Italian trattoria to open in Tel Aviv, in 1988. Pronto moved to its current location seven years ago, where Frenkel has been overseeing its transformation from a typical trattoria to a full-fledged fine dining restaurant.
For the occasion of the Italian Academy’s first official visit to Pronto, Frenkel prepared a special four-course da condividere menu, with dishes served in the center of the table to be shared.
The Antipasti comprised tuna tartare bruschetta, grilled eggplant in Gorgonzola cream, and vitello tonnato, while the Primi course featured three pasta dishes: corn ravioli with seasonal vegetables, agnolotti in a Gorgonzola sauce with cream of potato and leek, and cappelletti with oxtail.
At this appropriate juncture in the meal, Dr. Massimo Lomonaco, the Israel bureau chief of the Italian press agency ANSA -- citing the book Moments of Happiness by French anthropologist Marc Augé -- discussed the important role played by pasta in elevating people’s moods.
The meal continued with two Secondi -- sea bream poached in white wine with tomatoes and capers, and butcher’s cut with polenta -- and concluded with two desserts: crostata al miele and tiramisu.
The food was accompanied by Prosecco Tommasi, as well as Bibi Graetz Casamatta red and white wines from Tuscany.
At the conclusion of the meal, the diners voted to award Pronto a score of 7.5, which equates to three stars. This rating ties Pronto with several other restaurants in Tel Aviv that achieved the highest ranking accorded in Israel by the local chapter of the Accademia.
Among the notable personalities attending the dinner at Pronto were Dr. Francesco Meucci, commercial attaché at the embassy of Italy; architect and sommelier Jenny Innocenti; and MK Oded Ben Hur, former Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican.
- Written by Tel Aviv Yafo Muni
The Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon will take place on February 23, 2018. 40,000 runners will participate in Israel’s biggest sporting event of the year. A record number of 2,500 international participants from Germany (335 runners), Poland (192), Russia (185), US (182), UK (118), Italy (105), France (102) and more are set to hit the city to take part in the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon, including a large delegation of elite international runners attempting to break the marathon record. The current record was set in 2016 by William Kiprono Yagon from Kenya at a time of 2:10:30. Any runner who succeeds in achieving a result of under 2:07:59 will receive $40,000.
This year, the Tel Aviv Marathon will take participants on a stunning 42km route winding its way through the beating heart of the city. Runners start at the Tel Aviv Convention Center in northern Tel Aviv and then follow the route through many of the city’s most celebrated neighborhoods, including Sarona Market, Rabin Square and Old Jaffa - one of the most ancient port cities of the world. The route also takes runners along the white sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.
150,000 spectators are expected to attend the event this year to cheer the runners on. The Marathon Expo, the largest sport and active lifestyle exhibition in Israel, will be held at Rabin Square during the week leading up to the marathon. CineMarathon, a free film festival will also be held on the premises, showcasing a selection of acclaimed films about running.
The Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon continues this year to support social and community engagement, and encourages marathon runners to take advantage of their participation to raise funds for charity. On the official Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon website, participants can choose from a list of more than 90 charitable organizations to support and create a donation page to share with their friends, family and colleagues. In addition, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality invites more than 1,000 soldiers to participate in the marathon at no cost.
Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo: "The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality is proud to promote the sport culture in the city. We are pleased that every year the number of international participants rises, placing the city as an important destination for marathon runners from Israel and abroad. We welcome the 2,500 runners joining us from abroad to participate in the unique experience that we create annually in the city."
The marathon heats:
- Marathon – 42.195 km (kick-off time: 7:00)
- Semi-Marathon- 21 km (kick-off time: 6:15)
- 10 km race
- 5 km race
- Hand-cycle race
- Mini-Marathon for kids- 500m and 1km (Wednesday 21st, 16:00 at the Sarona Compound)
To register for the event, or for more information, updates and maps of the routes, visit: http://www.tlvmarathon.co.il/Default.aspx?l=en
- Written by Silvia Golan
Said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to thousands of young Jews participating in 'Birthright Israel's main event held in Jerusalem tonight
"4000 years ago, our people arrived to this country- and they were sent to exile. Usually people who are expelled – tend to disappear with time- but the Jewish nation refuses to disappear. When we said: 'Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem'- we knew our wish will come true. It took us a while, but we made it and we are here forever. Strong Israel support powerful Jewish community worldwide. This is 'Birthright Israel's' 18th year of operation – while in Hebrew 18 means 'Hchai', being alive. 'Birthright Israel' brings life to more than half a million Jews over the world and there's nothing that represents your Jewish identity more than 'Birthright Israel' Venture. Remember that no matter where you come from and how you pray – Israel is your home". said Prime Minister Netanyahu in the main event of 'Birthright Israel', the largest Jewish venture in the world.
The event, held in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem in the presence of Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Meir Shamir, Birthright Israel International CEO, Gidi Mark, Members of the Israeli Knesset, benefactors, fellows and participants from around the world.
'Birthright Israel' International CEO, Gidi Mark: "As we open 'Birthright Israel's 18th year, we find great importance, especially in this time, in strengthening the bond between young Jewish people in the diaspora, their Jewish heritage and the state of Israel. This year, we continue to expand our offering for future participants, providing more ways than ever for them to connect with their Jewish roots and Israel's diverse character".
Photo Sharona Avraham