Happy Purim!

A dog with an artificial lion skin is sitting on the sidewalk.

Tel Aviv, Purim 2017; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Franziska Schurr


Sometimes fate is a matter of drawing lots. The well-being of a minority group in the larger society comes down to politics. Purim, the feast of lots, commemorates a queen who was able to distinguish fate from political intrigue.Ester risked her life to advocate for the Jewish people of the Persian diaspora, taking up their case with King Ahasuerus and thwarting the viceroy’s murderous conspiracy: Haman had drawn lots to decide that on the 13th of the month Adar, a genocide against the Jews should take place. Thus, the 14th of Adar symbolizes survival, and is celebrated with culinary delights, extravagant parties, and costumes

However, wearing a disguise is not among the mitzvot (commands) that must be performed on Purim. What is required? Listening to the reading of the Book of Ester at the service in synagogue, giving gifts to friends and the needy, and eating and drinking wine with gusto at a feast.

But it still might be nice to make an appearance in a form different than your usual one. And it’s all the nicer if the festive flair spreads beyond the big parade, and mixes with everyday life. In Tel Aviv, during the day between two Purim parties, you can wave at bears riding the bus. On the beach, pink elephants gaze out over the sea. And lions bark in the street.

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