Zombies, pandas, superheroes, and even Donald Trump made appearances as part of Israel’s costumed festivities. Our photographer (dressed as a photographer) was there.
A popular joke describes Jewish holidays as “They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.” This is true of no holiday so much as Purim, the ancient celebration of the rescue of the Jews of Persia from the villainous Haman by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai. But Jews do more than eat during Purim – they dress in costumes, rattle noisemakers, dance and sing, and make liberal use of intoxicants. The result is perhaps the most joyful holiday in Jewish tradition.
In Israel, Purim has become a holiday like no other. For days before and after, Israelis wear ever more outrageous costumes in public, creating an atmosphere like a Jewish Halloween. On the day itself, they celebrate with parades, dances, and general public intoxication. In Tel Aviv in particular, this has developed into a carnival-like festival called Adloyeda, from the Hebrew phrase ad lo yeda, loosely translated, “until you don’t know,” referring to the famous rabbinical command to get so drunk that you cannot tell the difference between “damned is Haman and blessed is Mordechai.”
Tower photographer Aviram Valdman captured the atmosphere of the festivities in both hyper-traditional Jerusalem and the unabashedly hedonistic Tel Aviv. He caught the celebrations in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda outdoor market, followed by a furious rave in Tel Aviv’s Kikar HaMedina square, and then the famous “zombie walk,” in which Tel Aviv residents parade through the streets in the most grotesque and gory costumes they can find.
In many ways, the festivities are a testimony to Israel’s resilience. Despite a wave of Palestinian terrorism, multitudes of fearless revelers took to the streets dressed as zombies, angels, and superheroes, and danced the day away to the beats of renowned DJs. In a perpetually embattled country, the glorious hedonism of Purim is more than just a good time – it is a heroic act of defiance.
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Banner Photo: Aviram Valdman / The Tower