Joy, festivities, costumes, silliness and even drunkenness are all customarily associated with Purim. We give food gifts to friends and neighbors; we give charity to the poor. Yet, as life will have it, not all are in the mood or able to fully participate in this holiday which emphasizes over-the-top exuberance.
Those who are hospitalized and ill are not overlooked. Having a family member so situated last year brought me to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem even as Shushan Purim was at its height. Traveling from the Jewish Quarter to the hospital gave me a new perspective on the holiday, seen through the eyes of one preoccupied with health concerns.
The contrast between the world outside the hospital and inside the hospital was even starker than usual. The sheer party mood included some of my favorite aspects of the holiday, well-conceived couple’s costumes, family costumes and group friends’ costumes.
Politics, of course does sneak into the day, with children dressing up as a different sector of society, with adults choosing their costume to make a statement.
The light rail was filled with revelers inside the train and a veritable impromptu Purim parade was constant along the tracks.
Inside the hospital we were tickled to see seminary girls and yeshiva guys going about cheering up the patients.
Sometimes even the portions of shalach manot (treats for giving to neighbors) were cleverly comprised to accommodate the patient’s dietary requirements while still bringing a smile.
Even a few celebs showed up, without their entourage or papparazi.
When you think about it though, the laughter of Purim is at its best when directed towards the ailing. Is it not said that laughter is the best medicine?
A joyful Purim to all…
All photographs © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz