Halloween in March? Jerusalem Celebrates Purim

Date of publication: 3/4/2015

Recent guests at the Beit Shmuel Hotel and Guest House experienced Jerusalem culture at its most colorful: Purim celebrated in a wide variety of ways across Israel's capital city.

What is Purim? It is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire, where a plot had been formed by the evil Prime Minister Haman to destroy them. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther.

Jerusalem events revolving around Purim celebrate customs associated with the holiday, including the drinking of wine or any other alcoholic beverage and the wearing of masks and costumes in public. Purim is a great time to do an guided tours Israel.

The main Jerusalem event during Purim this year was the outdoor party at Safra Square, where the city's municipality is located.  A mere three minute walk from the Beit Shmuel Jerusalem guesthouse, the colorful carnival at Safra Square included Israeli television stars and life-sized movie and comic book characters. Children competed in a costume contest and enjoyed a puppet theater, clowns, a circus, creative workshops and more.

Meanwhile, Beit Shmuel organized a series of Jerusalem tours based on the Purim theme. One event, tailored to families, took participants on a walking tour of the Old City. A fun and educational time was had by all as the Purim story was brought to life by Beit Shmuel's experienced staff of tour guides.

For the slightly older visitors to the city during Purim, the Beit Shmuel Jerusalem guesthouse was but a hop, skip and jump away from several dance parties. Highlights included a pre-Purim rave with Ukrainian DJ Omnia, silent disco headphone party and costume competition at downtown Jerusalem's Abraham Hostel or VIP Jerusalem rentals and a visit to the Groove Zone that featured funky tunes and hits from the '90s.

For its part, Beit Shmuel guides led a Jerusalem tour aimed at adults that covered the city's ultra-Orthodox section, the legendary Mahane Yehuda outdoor market and much more.

For the more spiritually inclined, nothing matched the pomp and spectacle of experiencing Purim in the heart of all the madness – the hip, artsy, freewheeling neighborhood of Nachlaot, Jerusalem.

Approximately two kilometers from Beit Shmuel, Nachlaot' s many synagogues provided visitors to Beit Shmuel and other guest houses in Jerusalem with a dose of that Old Time Religion. The megillah (scroll that tells the Purim story) reading from the Book of Esther was an uproarious affair. Whenever the name of Haman was read out during the synagogue services, congregants engaged in noise-making – meant to blot out the evil prime minister's name.

With so many colorful experiences over a short period of time, Beit Shmuel guests who stayed at the Jerusalem guesthouse during Purim certainly got a potent dose of Jerusalem culture!
Take the Christian Christmas pageant, add a down-home Halloween and a couple bottles of wine, and you start to get a good idea of the Purim festival.

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