Purim in Jerusalem

So this is my first Purim in Jerusalem since I moved here nearly 4 years ago. I was always out of town for one reason or another. But now I’m here and what a treat! First of all Purim is already a pretty crazy holiday, and not just because of the random people walking down the street in bizarre costumes on the days leading up to the holiday… lets just say the partying gets pretty intense. Anyhow, this, my first Purim in Jerusalem in years is a treat because it’s Triple Purim!

Here, allow me to explain. Well allow Wikipedia to explain:

Shushan Purim (the 15th day of Adar) is the day on which Jews in Jerusalem and Shushan (in Iran) celebrate Purim. The Book of Esther explains that while the Jews in unwalled cities fought their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th, the Jews in the walled capital city of Shushan spent the 13th and 14th defeating their enemies, and rested on the 15th (Esther 9:20-22).

Although Mordecai and Esther decreed that only walled cities should celebrate Purim on the 15th, in commemoration of the battle in the walled city of Shushan, the Jewish sages noted that Jerusalem, the focus of Jewish life, lay in ruins during the events of the Book of Esther. To make sure that a Persian city was not honored more than Jerusalem, they made the determination of which cities were walled by referring to ancient cities walled during the time of Joshua. This allowed Jerusalem to be included on the basis of that criteria; paradoxically, they included Shushan as the exceptional case since the miracle occurred there, even though it did not have a wall in Joshua’s time.

The Megillah is also read on the 15th in a number of other cities in Israel—such as Jaffa, Acre, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron—but only as a custom based on a doubt over whether these cities were walled or sufficiently walled during the time of Joshua. These cities therefore celebrate Purim on the 14th, and the additional Megillah reading on the 15th is a stringency. Jews in these cities do not recite the blessings over the reading of the Megillah on the 15th.

When the main Purim date, the 14th of Adar, comes out on a Friday, then in Jerusalem there is a situation called Purim HaMeshulash – a 3 part Purim celebration. Shushan Purim is then on the 16th day, rather than the 15th day, of Adar. Each day has a different focus. The giving of money can’t occur on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and since it would be unfair to make the poor wait a day, so it is moved to the 14th of Adar. The Megilla reading in Jerusalem takes place on the 14th as well. The “Al HaNissim” addition to the Amidah and Birkat Hamzon is said on Shabbat (Friday Night and Saturday) along with the traditional Purim day Torah portion being read in shul on Shabbat day. Sunday (the “Meshulash day”) contains the obligation of Mishloach Manot and the Seudat Purim (the festive Purim meal).

These are not very common; they cluster (about every 2-3 years) and then they leave gaps as large as 13 years.

Honestly, I tried to rewrite all that myself, but I am in a rush… gotta go and read the Megillah again! OK, happy Purim to all of you in the diaspora and, ahem, happier Purim for me and my homies in Jerusalem! And that photo on top? That’s the Yemenite Healer guy at the shuk dressed as… a Yemenite Jew and one of his staff dressed as a cowgirl, cute!

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.