Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Purim, again

Baruch Kopel Goldstein was an American-Israeli physician, religious extremist, and mass murderer who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounding another 125. He was beaten to death by survivors of the massacre.  On Purim.

Two girls from Tel Aviv who decided to go shopping in Netanya were killed by a suicide bomber on Purim.

My middle son died of cancer at Purim.

The only happy Purim I remember except for when the kids were small, was the end of the Gulf War when Netanya’s streets were filled with joyous revellers including some US troops who had, I suppose, been sent over because of the Gulf War. All of us thanking Nachman Shai for keeping us sane through those dreadful weeks.

Purim was always my favourite holiday in Israel. We had lived on a Moshav for many years and the giving of Shlach Manot sweetmeats, hamantataschen and other goodies usually home baked, was what everyone did. It was not religious practice; it was traditional and tradition meant something in those days.

When we returned absolutely broke to the UK in 1966, it was Purim. After much searching we found a small apartment for the five of us and discovered that most of our neighbours were Jewish. Not one came in with a greeting or blessing. I took each of my eight neighbours a small plant.

When I returned to Netanya, some friends still kept the custom, but when I finally moved to Tel Aviv, I was devastated that not one neighbour or their children came to me, the only old person living alone in our building.

I wrote a blog post at the time.

So Purim and fancy dress now leaves me, cold. This Purim too will be identified with the horrific deaths of a young soldier and a father of  12 children whose family will never again feel like putting on a fancy dress.

Last night, however, my spirit lifted at the Exhibition grounds in Tel Aviv. Avodah the Labour Party once again, called supporters to a gathering to meet those who will represent us in the next Knesset. The upbeat messages of the speakers and the audience response, was as joyous as any festival could be. Thousands were there and many of the young people and there were indeed many,  wore sparkling hats and masks and other fancy dress apparel to create a joyful and hopeful atmosphere. All of the top runners of the party spoke each on a topic which they will represent and push for. From the economy to social welfare to religious pluralism and freedom to marry whom we wish and to make peace with our neighbours. Tal Rousso the new boy on the block, emphasized relieving the suffering in GAZA and working to a solution which will suit both sides on the West Bank.   Only, we those who feel that our forefathers in many cases one generation away,  built this State, can make a difference and restore our wonderful country to the revival of a glorious past.  With all the technology put to the right use and to benefit the people and not only to make some rich and powerful.

I suppose all that’s left to say is “From our mouths to God’s ears”

Hag Sameach and Bless the people of this great and special land.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.
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