by Susan Horwitz
Fantastic, amazing, incredible, terrific and FUN!!! I had been looking forward to this day all week. Once I saw the signs that Ben Yehuda Street would be closed from Thursday evening at 8:00 to Friday night at 7:00 I knew that Tel Aviv was in for a big treat. I just didn’t know how big or how great! So…all week, I watched, read and spoke to my friends about this great event. Thursday evening, on my way from the Megillah reading, I saw the vibrant colored banners going up – hung from light poles and strung across the street – oh so festive! The street was now closed from Frishman to Alozorov Street. Workers lined the street building stages, kiosks, and decorating – what a production! Security was everywhere and the street was bustling from night to the next morning. I was like a little kid – up early to go swimming (at 5:00 AM) and to check out what was accomplished during the night. I couldn’t believe – Ben Yehuda Street had been transformed into a magical fair!!! Oh this was going to be a spectacular day! At 10:00 AM, I left my apartment – camera around my neck and water bottle flung over my shoulder. The weather was like a summer day – sunny with temperatures in the 80’s. I knew that I needed to keep myself hydrated – Neil’s warning was ringing in my ear. I already could hear the music coming from the loudspeakers! First, I had to go through security as each entrance to Ben Yehuda Street had 4 –5 police and security staff checking everything. (This you may turn some of you off – but here we feel it reassuring). Then I saw the spirit of this holiday! So many children – all dressed is colorful costumes – from small babies – to aging adults – wigs, painted faces, hats, streamers, balloons, you name it – they were dressed in it! Even the dogs were dressed for occasion! The streets were jammed with people, walking, strutting and gawking at what they were seeing. Of course, there were some who I didn’t know if that were in their normal dress or was it a Purim outfit? Every block had at least three stages with all sorts of entertainment – bands, storytelling, drumming, mimes, gymnasts and even acrobats hanging from a trapeze, ropes and streamers. I watched in amazement as they swung from the heights of the buildings. Guess it has been a long time since I have been to a circus! Music filled the air! All were merry! Hats off to those that organized this special event. On my way home – thinking about Purim and all the beautiful young children who should only know this kind of happiness, I thought of the prayer that we said in synagogue at the end of the reading the Megillah. With all the festivities and happiness may we not loose site of the true meaning of Purim! Blessed art thou, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who dost champion our cause and vindicate our rights, taking revenge for us, repaying all our mortal enemies as they deserve and punishing our oppressors. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who dealest out punishment to the oppressors of Israel they people, O thou, redeeming G-d. Hag Sameah and Shabbat Shalom to all!
PS – I think the grape costume won the award for the most creative!! Susan Horwitz