View from Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 4th March 2015

It’s Purim this week, and the chaos that descends on communities outside Israel is written large on the whole country.

You expect to see people in the oddest clothes at the oddest times. All the schools are closed for three days this week, but that itself does not mean that the celebration of Purim hasn’t already invaded everything. All the schools with which my grandchildren are associated have at least one day when everybody, teachers and pupils alike, turns up in pyjamas. My granddaughter was on traffic duty outside her school, and controlled the cars in Tel Aviv clad in winceyette!

Fancy dress is very much the fashion this week, and at least one school day will be devoted to the pupils coming appropriately clad. Sometimes themes get mixed up; one little boy appeared yesterday half as Superman, and half as a Red Indian. Star Wars is very popular and much of the youthful population seems to be walking around as either Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The centres of the big cities are closed on Purim day The main streets in Tel Aviv are totally given over to pedestrians, and people of all ages wear fancy dress, including the police. The mood generally is happy and good humoured.

This year however there are clear political overtones. The whole Purim story took place in the area that these days we call Iran, and the plot to destroy the Jews in those days resonates with worries about the Ayatollahs’ nuclear ambitions. Ahasuerus’ reluctance to clearly understand Haman’s motives suggests the behaviour of the American administration. Does that therefore cast Bibi Netanyahu’s speech in Washington as Mordechai’s warning to the King? Only time will tell!