(This post has been sitting waiting for me to re-edit it since Purim. Alas, having shortly thereafter flown to the U.S., I haven't had time for editing, but I don't want to skip the Purim update before moving on to my election day post, so here's a never-before-seen "rough draft" version of a post):
Purim 2015 has come and gone. This year we were a bit wiser. The Purim story is from about 2500 years ago. A man in Persia trying to wipe out the Jews. How I wish that didn't have a familiar ring today. After the Jews avoided destruction (thank you to one of our main Jewish heroines--Queen Esther) we took on some customs that continue to this day. We listen to the Megillah (the Purim story) once at night and once during the day, we give money to the poor and give gift baskets to friends and having a festive meal on Purim day. I don't know where the dressing up in costume comes from but that is also customary. It makes for a lot of fun but I'm sure there are many parents out there who would back me up that it can also be a super stressful time. Making and delivering the baskets, making sure you are on time for the Megillah reading, getting costumes together for the kids etc. Oh and the day before is a fast day in which we remember the build up to the drama.
So sometimes I think of Megillah reading as the 45 most stressful minutes on the Jewish calendar. The adults are starving, the kids are on sugar/costume/vacation high. Fortunately, in Modiin we have so many Megillah readings to choose from that a lot of that stress has been removed because miss one and another is starting in 10 minutes. You have your pick. Dramatic reading, fast reading, women's reading, family reading, puppet show reading. We got the variety. Whatever you're looking for within reason. But last year it felt like the day of Purim we spent a large chunk of time passing out gift baskets to friends. This year, a friend organized a group to visit patients who are stuck in the hospital on Purim. My father was very involved in visiting sick people in hospitals and he used to tell us that his father's favorite holiday was Purim. So I felt a special connection to my dad during the visit.
The cool thing about going to a hospital in Israel on Jewish holidays is that it's the national holiday. Much like Americans must feel if they gather to visit sick people on Christmas there is a festive spirit that you get to tap into that belong to you. I think it was a great experience for the kids to see the people's faces light up and somehow my children ended up receiving a gift basket and costume that a different group was passing out. Even though we explained that my kids were volunteering and were not patients they simply responded with "all the more reason to receive." It was great. A 3-piece band came through and did some singing and dancing and many visitors were in costtume so I think the patients and their families felt that they were not forgotten. As were passing out our final goody bag/get well card a nurse came over and told us he didn't think the hospital was a good place for small children. Bah humbug!