This was written by Spring 2019 participant Cara Marantz after celebrating Purim in Israel.
On our bus ride to Tel Aviv, the excitement was tangible. All of us were all dressed in costumes and looking forward to the Purim experience in Israel. Since Israelis had already been wearing costumes the entire week leading up to the holiday, we knew that it was going to be a completely different experience than any Purim from back home.
I was looking forward to exploring Tel Aviv and seeing what the people there did to celebrate. It was fascinating to walk around and see so many people of all ages in their costumes. As we walked, numerous people greeted us saying “Purim Sameach,” or “Happy Purim.”
In America, I describe Purim as “Jewish Halloween” (even though that isn’t what it is at all), because using a comparison is the only way to help my non-Jewish friends understand. They have no clue who Esther or Mordechai or Haman are, or the reasons why we dress up and celebrate. In Israel, it’s the complete opposite. It was so cool to be surrounded by people who understood all aspects of my faith.
My adventure around the city was very fun. Every time that I’m in Tel Aviv, I think about how interesting it is that a city so modern can exist a mere forty minutes away from Jerusalem. While they both demonstrate Israeli culture, they feel different in so many ways. A clear example of this was when I saw a woman dressed up as Tinkerbell eating a cheeseburger. I thought the juxtaposition of breaking the laws of Kashrut (cheeseburgers are not considered Kosher) while actively participating in a Jewish holiday was amusing. Both cities are celebrating Purim, but you would never see something like that in Jerusalem. Being in Tel Aviv for Purim truly solidified to me the idea that there are many ways to be Jewish, and it was a really enjoyable day.