I put up 2 photos (not fabulous quality, but I took them with my not-fabulous-quality cellphone!) of what many vacant lots look like now. This field is in the big Kfar Saba Park. Every time I pass it there are different kinds of flowers. And now the orange trees are blossoming (while still having mature oranges on them...) and the air is citrus-scented. I must have been still in a fog last spring, because I don't remember the flowers or the blossoms! Enjoy...I am!

Purim in Israel

All week we were in full-holiday mode--people in costume or masks (kids and grownups!), people carrying or ordering cellophane gift baskets of food. Silly music on the radio, lots of fun. Fundraising for Sderot and Ashkelon.

Personally, I was helping host the Prima Vista choir of the Musicschule of Leverkusen Germany. Galron and Prima Vista performed at the Kol Rinah choral festival at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, Yankele Schreibman and I met them and had a tour of Hadassah hospital, and I traveled with them on a tour of the north, around the Kineret, up on the Golan Heights (they are really high, and accessible only by a 2-lane road that snaked and hairpinned its way up. I'm glad I went by bus, because I think I would not like to drive it!) All through this beautiful land there are land mines and bunkers left from the war.

Later that day we toured some sites important to Christians, and then traveled to Nazareth Illit, to tour a chocolate factory and then perform at a nursing home (they performed, I carried music stands and ran for water!)

I was also preparing to chant chapter 3 of the book of Esther at Beit Daniel. I borrowed a kimono from my friend Pnina Gershony, and Thursday evening went to Tel Aviv, hoping people would be dressed up, hoping I would be OK. The synagogue was MOBBED! At 6 they had a party in the sanctuary for kids and parents, with a live band, and tons of food and things for sale. When I arrived at 7:45 the party was still going on, and everybody was dressed in some kind of costume! We settled down for a short evening service, but the hilarity continued--the cantor led the Chatzi Kaddish to the tune of "Ani Purim!"

Then we all went downstairs to the social hall for the megilla reading (here starts some background for those who have never experienced Purim in community.) There were cushions, low chairs and other chairs all over the room, with space for another band, and the table where we readers would sit. Tables lined the walls and were scattered among the seats, filled with food, wine, vodka and fruit juices (you are supposed to drink as the megilla is read, until you can't distinguish between the names of Mordechai (the uncle of Esther) and Haman (the bad guy.)

The second band had a gorgeous girl singer, and we sang some songs before starting to read. We read 2 chapters, then the band played some more music, then I started. My chapter is where Haman is introduced, and during the reading, whenever Haman's name is mentioned, everybody makes noise! (Anybody remember PeeWee's Playhouse? "Whenever somebody says the secret word, everybody scream real loud!") So every time I read "Haman" it was crazy! I got through it, not my finest hour, but perfectly acceptable, and after, Rabbi Azari did his sweet shpiel about me being new to Beit Daniel, etc.

I repaired to the drinks table--there was lots of vodka, but no cups! Fortunately I had my nearly empty water bottle! I had my drink, and enjoyed the rest of the reading. One of the women who read has become my new ideal--she read with such ease and humor, and when she got to the appropriate place in the text switched the tune to the kid's song with the same words! She was amazing!

At the end, the band started playing in earnest, and we all danced and sang and had a wonderful time. There was a rendition of "Ani Ma'amin" ("I Believe"--text that originated during the Holocaust, and usually is set to solemn music) that rocked!

OK, so it wasn't "Shushan Surfari Dreamin'" or "Shushan 'Cross the Mersey" or "Ahhhhh-hashverosh!" But for years I have been making Purim mine...this year Purim made me its!

Next day, the readers assembled at a retirement home in Tel Aviv, and did the reading again, not so rowdy, but enjoyed just the same.

I took lots of pictures, but only have posted a few--I'll put more on if people request it!