Having A Blast At The Purim Parade

18 Mar

Purim Parade

click image for more photos from the parade and the school


Today I attended a Purim parade organized by the Bialik-Rogozin school of Tel Aviv. The school has recently won acclaim as the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary film, Strangers No More. The school’s students are disadvantaged children from various countries, many of whom have escaped the horrors of war and poverty. I was one of several attendees representing the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Our visit began with a short tour of the school where I was impressed by the facilities and resources available to the students. Shortly after our tour the parade began as the students, dressed in a variety of costumes, marched from the front steps of the school bearing signs that proclaimed the parade’s theme “Success Has Many Faces”.

I should explain that Purim is a Jewish holiday based on the Book of Esther in which the Jews living in ancient Persia are saved from annihilation. The celebration of Purim includes readings of the Book of Esther, feasting, giving of gifts to the poor and to one’s friends and wearing of masks and costumes. I believe the costume-wearing is a relatively new addition to the celebration and has grown to include parades such as the one I witnessed today.

It was a thrill to experience the exuberance of the event. The costumes, worn by children and adults alike, were imaginative and fun. Music was blaring from speakers at nearly every corner of the parade route. Now and then blasts of confetti were launched in the air. Impromptu street performances broke out. The mayor of Tel Aviv, decked out in top hat and tux, was in attendance, interacting with parade participants.

I couldn’t help but think that somewhere along the line the Purim festival is related to Mardi Gras, Fasching and Carnevale. All festivals take place around the same time of year and all include parades and costumed revelers. Next year, perhaps, I’ll wear my own costume for the parade.


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