“Are you here for the interview? ” the bearded man wearing a red leather skirt asked me.
“Uh, yeah” I said, raising my voice to be heard above the club music.
he turned, his pink feather boa trailing behind him.
We passed a group of people milling around a table full of food and drinks. The women wore angel wings and the men wore lipstick.
He looked at me sideways-
“I don’t always dress like this, you know”.
This exchange didn’t happen in a cross-dressing dive bar. It was Wednesday morning, and I was being interviewed for an internship position at a successful start-up company. What made this day different was that it happened to be the office’s Purim Party, and in Israel, people take purim (and parties) seriously.
I used to think purim was the Jewish version of halloween. Both holidays involve costumes, after all. What I know now is anyone who has only experienced purim in some hebrew school event when they were 12 is missing out on what has to be one of the greatest holidays ever.
The story goes like this: In ancient Persia there was a king named Achashverosh who drank too much one night and asked his wife Vashti to show her face to his court. She refused, and in a fit of drunken, misplaced rage Achashverosh either had her killed (murder status) or divorced her (dickwad status).
Whatever he did, the morning after Achashverosh wakes up and realizes he needs another wife. He chooses beautiful Esther, who doesn’t tell him she is Jewish. Achashverosh has an evil minister named Haman, who plans to kill all the Jews, saving a special gallows for one in particular named Mordechai (who happens to be Esther’s father but no one knows this) Esther finds out, and yadda yadda yadda she saves the Jews and Haman is hanged on the same gallows he built to kill Mordechai.
Purim is celebrated by everyone dressing up in costume and getting really, really drunk. Drunk enough not to know the difference between the evil Haman and the blessed Mordechai- to experience the topsy-turvyness of the way the evil plot of Haman was turned around at the last minute upon himself.
Purim in Israel is like a 3 day carnival where everyone drinks, dresses up and dances like there is no tomorrow. Without the “spooky” iconography of halloween, you see no witches or ghosts or vampires or mummies. Purim costumes are some of the most original and creative I’ve ever seen; both the ones worn during the night’s carousing and the ones worn during the day’s festivals.
Here is a sampling of the best costumes out there-and don’t worry: Come October, you can steal these ideas for halloween; I won’t tell.
I have never seen so many awesome dog costumes/ dog theme costumes. Tel Avivniks love their dogs. I present to you: