A Sweet Purim in Israel


No, the kids outfitted in crowns and capes aren’t real monarchs — just a pair of young members of the Vizhnitz chasidic community listening to the Megillah reading on Purim this week in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.

Throughout the country — and Jewish communities in the diaspora — Jews of all ages and all religious affiliations attended Megillah readings, dressed up in costumes, attended parties, drank copious amounts of distilled brew and took part in festive parades.

At the Purim parade in Holon, also near Tel Aviv this week, one guest of honor was President Barack Obama. Not the real leader of the free world, of course, but a passable likeness, which was carried through the streets on revelers’ shoulders.

In Bnei Brak, two youngsters, above, observe Purim in the guise of Turkish Muslims. At Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, right, sans costume, greets a group of children, surrounded by reporters and parents.

Israeli merchants reported that sales of sweets and hamantashen were up substantially this year, despite the downturn in the economy.

“During the Purim holiday period 23 million hamantashen will be eaten, representing an increase of 5 percent to 7 percent compared with last year,” reported the Israel Manufacturers’ Association. Ten million alone were filled with chocolate, eaten “mainly by children.”

Meanwhile, leaders of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group urged their followers not to dress up as soldiers, police or rescue workers. The “impure symbols” of the secular Zionist state was equivalent to dressing up as “pagan priests,” a Neturei Karta pamphlet warned.

There was no indication if anyone obeyed the Neturei Karta warning, or if anyone dressed up as members of Neturei Karta.