EV agrees
EV of Jewschool expresses his disgust. Granted, this had nothing to do with Michael’s post and took place at a bar where we were getting EV drunk celebrating EV’s birthday, but whatever… Happy Purim!

Of all the Jewish holidays, Purim carries with it perhaps the most sheer bullshit (see below). Purim is not a night of celebrating the failure of past genocides or a theologically meaningful reversal of normal order or a profound metaphor for the hidden hand of God in everyday life. From my balcony in downtown Jerusalem, I’ll tell you what Purim in Israel is: a shoddy excuse for the worst kind of violent and destructive behavior, particularly on the part of the religious Jews who attribute so much meaning to their drunken rampaging.

It starts with the little sniveling brats. I live in the shuk, and for the past week the children (and for some reason, all these children are religious) have been having all sorts of fun with the firecrackers, smoke bombs, bottle rockets, roman candles and cap guns their parents were too busy being negligent assholes to not buy for them. Israelis are naturally a somewhat jumpy people, and nobody appreciates some worm of a child setting off explosions in one of the most crowded, and bombing-prone, areas of Jerusalem. And as if that wasn’t enough, the other night a couple of the little fuckers were firing bottle rockets from their balcony. Across the street. Into my building. Were their parents home? Of course! But why stop little Moishe from aiming fireworks at other peoples’ windows? Hahaha! Ad d’lo yada! Turn the world on its head! Purim is fun for everybody!

And then, against my better judgment, I was convinced to go out tonight. I was walking with a friend through the religious neighborhoods north of downtown, and what did my eyes behold at Kikkar Shabbat at the meeting of Meah She’arim and Geulah? A few hundred severely drunk young bochrim massing in the intersection, forcing cabs to stop, stoning them with rocks and garbage, and yanking open the doors and screaming at the drivers. Seeing as it’s, you know, not forbidden to drive on Purim, I naturally wondered at the cause of this lovely, normative behavior. So my friend asked a cab driver, and it turns out that these clever bochrim assume that any cab driver working on Purim must be an Arab. So, therefore, logically, it’s okay to stone them. What a liberating holiday, huh?

So after pushing through the violent crowd and seeing my friend off, I had to go back downtown, which required again walking through Kikkar Shabbat. By the time I returned, the boys had dragged two huge trash bins into the intersection and…see if you can guess…set them ablaze. Meanwhile, to add to the hellish dystopia, broken glass from shattered windows and garbage from the overturned bins littered the streets and car alarms and firecrackers went off about every ten seconds. But hey, it’s all for the “yiddenverse!” I mean, clearly it’s all part of the divine plan that we get toasted, take to the streets, break windows, stone “Arabs” (who are actually Jews) for the sin of working on a holiday and set public property on fire, right? I used to live in New Orleans and Mardi Gras at full swing was tame compared to this sort of wanton, inconsiderate chaos.

Downtown, in a welcome change, was mostly free of anarchic charedim and instead full of screaming Americans and wasted arsim traveling in small groups and spoiling for fights with people who made the grave error of looking at them, all to the continued urban soundtrack of explosions, car alarms, and gun-laden Israeli police zooming by on motorcycles (apparently nobody told them about the charedi riot five minutes away).

If I want to see the violent disintegration of society, I’ll go the fucking video store and rent Mad Max, which at least I can turn off.

I don’t know. Certainly I’ve enjoyed Purims past, although they all shared the characteristic of not being in Israel. Maybe it’s a Jerusalem thing, or a full moon thing, but trust me, mixing charedim, arsim and alcohol is a terrible idea. And no amount of Biblical exegesis or Talmudic doctrine can justify the disgusting behavior I saw tonight, overwhelmingly at the hands of the kippah-clad. Hand of God my ass. Instead of “blessed be Mordechai” and “cursed be Haman,” why don’t we try to distinguish between “freewheeling and fun public drunkenness” and “urban warfare”?

Screw Purim. I’m going to let the continued music of ambulances and explosions serenade me to sleep. I think I’ll just stay in bed until it’s over.

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  • you shoulda come out with me. went to a megillah reading then off to a festive shindig in baka. no fights, not firecrackers, just a lot of drinking and dancing.

    though if i had a pellet gun, i’d be firing it at the arsi pricks shooting off m80s in my backyard right now.

  • you shoulda come out with me. went to a megillah reading then off to a festive shindig in baka. no fights, not firecrackers, just a lot of drinking and dancing.

    though if i had a pellet gun, i’d be firing it at the arsi pricks shooting off m80s in my backyard right now.

  • As long as we continue to refer to people who do these things as “religious”, we are (in a very small way) complicit in their actions.

  • I would argue that what they are doing is assur. Of course, what I think is irrelevant.

    Just stay out of downtown on Yom HaAtzmaut. Then its the arsim vandalizing shit.

  • This is the unfortunate downside of a Jerusalem under Jewish ownership, and thank G-d teeming with Jews: even if all the yeshivas and communities do their best to monitor their youth, enough kids will slip away from the organized activities and into hooliganism.

    I remember feeling fear and disgust as I made my way with friends from our yeshiva to other yeshivas on Purim, and making my way through the litter the next day on the way to my sister’s Purim feast across town.

    Sorry your Purim has been so irritating so far – but since Jerusalem celebrates Shushan Purim, you can maybe hook up with an organizsed event today and enjoy.

  • The bochorim where screaming songs at the top of their lungs on my block in New Jersey. I was about to ask them to take it indoors at 2 am when it started to rain and they went in. These people live such controlled and repressed lives that the wild venting once a year is kinda sorta understandable, even though it appears disgusting and doesn’t represent the intention of the holiday.

  • Purim in Jerusalem kind of scared me when I was there as a Hebrew U. student…the firecrackers were very unnerving, and more of my friends were sexually molested by yeshiva boys that night than any other one, except maybe Yom Ha’atzmaut, which was more of the same, and slightly more disturbing (“Whoo hoo! Israel was born in ’48! Let’s grab some Jewish boobs!”).

    It is fun to pretend you’re something other than what you are, or to explore a side of you that people don’t expect to see. I totally get that. But when it gets destructive or scary? I just don’t like it–hence my general boycott of Halloween, with its emphasis on mischief and fright. I think people wear metaphorical masks often enough; when you add drinking to excess, that can break down social conventions. Sometimes in a good way, yes. But sometimes in a not-so-good way.

    So while I’m not ready to say Purim as a holiday is “disgusting,” I’m ready to say that people can be.

    Not like I wasn’t out with drunk people last night, but none of us set off any firecrackers. The only mischief was something involving dropping an ice cube into someone’s pants. At least that’s all I remember.

  • These sort of things are mostly carried out by younger people. U may want to remember when you were that age and got into mischief. Not that it is justified.

    There is no need to have any sort of party really.

    It can be a spiritual day that is all. In my case, I had a very simcha oriented Purim day. I finally got some work, after 6 weeks of climbing the walls.

    This is the state of the economy in america.

    So in the Fast of Esther, I asked again for work.
    and the next day, after they assigned new work to someone else, I out of character, asked for this work in a harsh and serious tone. Then they brought me a new assignment. Now I can breathe again. So it was a jopyous Purim for me.

    Even tho I didn’t make it to Shule at all. I was too depressed to go Monday night do to the condition described but thank G-d, things got better.

    So it is important to keep a proper perspective.

    Now to tackle the 3 bottles of vino people brought….

  • I think the israeli police finally caught on and decided to do somethign about the ruckus. (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3228411,00.html) But I agree, since when does the meaning of Purim include riots? Regardless of what someone could do with the holiday it is clearly being abused and the condoning of rinking for anyone over bar-mitzvah needs to be seriously rethought if those same kids cannot be controled. Or at least prevented from puking 11 times.

  • apparantly I was really lucky– I missed all the balagan, and had a wonderful time at the aforementioned Baka shindig, and at numerous se’udot the next day.

    But now I think I know why it took so long for the bus to get through that part of town of Purim, and why there were so many traffic cops

  • Esther, I agree with you very much in post #9. I went to Hebrew U in 2001 and wanted to get the whole “experience,” so I went, but the noise and crowds freaked me out- the screwed up time as it was in 2001 and the fact that I don’t like to drink or the drunkenness that results made me want to get out. Luckily I found a guy also from Hebrew U willing to cab it back with me to make sure I got to my apartment in Givat Tzarfatit ok. Then on Yom Ha’atzmaut I learned my lesson, didn’t go out with the rest of the group, instead enjoying what I love- Israeli dancing at kikar safra. It was nice being with Israelis and not with americans…and watching the fireworks while doing traditional folk dances was an amazing experience.

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