One of the best things about living here in Israel is experiencing new traditions and holidays. While we missed the traditions at home, like Halloween, there is a similar holiday here called Purim. Like Halloween, people dress in costumes, attend parties and there are lots of sweets! But, unlike Halloween on one night, these parties last an entire week!
Purim is officially tomorrow, but we have seen Purim parties and people dressing in costumes all weekend. My workout class had a Purim party on Saturday and it was fun to the see everyone dressed up for the workout,
and even a DJ for the Purim party class!
Summer’s soccer team was having a party and we were asked to bring a Purim box. I had no idea what a Purim box was, and more important, what to put inside it! Of course, I waited until the last minute and called our Israeli babysitter to ask what I needed to do to get one of these boxes by tomorrow morning. She told me grocery stores sell ready made boxes and suggested I go there to get one. I knew the language barrier would be an issue because many of the workers at the store do not speak English. Her solution was to send me a voice recording in Hebrew on whatsapp so I could play it for the clerk. She stressed they needed to know it was for a child. Apparently adults also exchange these boxes and she didn’t want me to get one that included wine. I’m sure that would be a hit with the 11 year old girls!
The first grocery store unfortunately, did not have a box. But, one of the customers told me they sold them at another market a few blocks away. I played my voice recording to one of the workers at the next store after unsuccessfully trying to ask in English. I think he was confused because he play my recording to a woman in the aisle. She knew exactly what I was looking for and told him in Hebrew. He quickly went to get me a small decorated box, but I couldn’t see what was inside.
The woman looked at the box and told me, “You don’t want to get that. It’s shit. You need to make your own.” By now, I’m used to the direct way Israeli’s offer their opinion. That’s a big difference from Americans. If an Israeli has an opinion about something, they will let you know EXACTLY how they feel.
I told the woman I was new to Israel and had no idea what to put inside my first Purim box. She led me through the store stopping at the bakery first. She told me the small chocolate filled pastries in front of me traditionally go in the boxes. They are called hamantaschen and in addition to a chocolate filling, they have others as well.
She told the bakery clerk to give me 3 chocolate, and 3 other varieties for my box. She took me to the candy aisle next and told me to pick out an assortment of candies.
I asked her if they sold boxes at this store since it was about 9 pm and I knew other stores would be closed. She told me to wrap the cookies and all the candy in wrapping paper and tie it with some string. I followed her advice when I got home. Summer and I made our first Purim box for her first Purim party in Israel.
I told Jim, Purim boxes reminded me of Halloween bags. But, instead of trick or treating, the kids get all the sweets without going door-to-door.
We shopped for our Purim costumes last week and the girls got to dress up at school and to attend events around the city.
Josh had a Purim party at his school last weekend. He told me he and his roommate were lumberjacks, but not surprised he sent no pictures.
Jim and I attended our first adult Purim Party, too! I love costumes, so this was a lot of fun for me.
Unfortunately, a lot of the events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. But, having the chance to out together our first Purim Box has a been a fun way to experience a new tradition.