Hannah Geller
Jewish & Israel Activist

Purim Inspiration From the London Tube

Author in London, in front of the London Eye.
Author in front of the London Eye.

Since arriving in London, I experienced the most peculiar thing. Some would say it defies all laws of science. 

Israelis. Whispering.

It’s quite a phenomenon, yes. Most have never seen it before.

But something about being in London causes the Israelis to whisper. It’s not the most… “friendly” place to be Israeli or Jewish these days.

Why am I sharing this if it’s obvious? To set the scene for the miracle that’s about to happen.

Fast forward to Purim day 2023.

Mind the gap” rings in the Tube station as I check my watch and realize Purim is almost over. We’re in the last hour and I still have a bag of mishloach manot in my pocket waiting for a recipient. I’m asking myself why I schlepped so many chocolates from America just for them to go to waste. 

I jump onto the escalator and my brain clicks that I hear Hebrew. I look behind me and, ding ding ding, I’ve found some (semi) whispering Israelis! It’s a group of dads and sons, not visibly Jewish, and suddenly I’m excited again. 

FINALLY, my mishloach manot will NOT be in vain!!

I’m an American with limited Hebrew knowledge, but I confidently turn around and say to them with a huge smile, “Chag Purim sameach! Who would like mishloach manot?”

I’m greeted with silence. Perhaps they didn’t realize it was Purim.

I try again. “It’s chocolate from America!” I turn to a young boy and ask “do you like chocolate?” 

Again, silence. He shakes his head. 

What the heck?!? Nobody likes chocolate these days? 

We all step off the escalator onto solid ground. This time I say louder and, admittedly, perhaps a bit eagerly, “It’s a mitzvah of Purim!! I know there is someone who likes chocolate here. Who is it?”

Crickets. My heart breaks just a crack and I’m so confused. I guess this wasn’t meant to be. So I turn and start walking away. I’ll try to find someone else. 

“Ehhh slicha? He wants one” says a father walking up to me with his son. 

It was like the sun broke through the cloudy London sky. I was THRILLED. Overjoyed, I gave him my mishloach manot and said “enjoy, happy Purim to all!” The young boy grinned. “Chag Purim sameach” the group says back to me. 

My mission is complete and my heart is warm. But I didn’t expect what came next. 

I start to hear singing. And not just singing, Hebrew singing

Actually, not just Hebrew singing- LOUD Hebrew singing. The group is singing and dancing up the escalator to “Mitzvah gedolah lihiyot b’simcha” in the middle of London. And I’m speechless. 

It doesn’t matter how uncertain it may feel to be openly Jewish and Israeli, or how tempted we may be to whisper or hide our magen davids in the face of the unknown. The Jewish people are alive and thriving, singing as loudly as ever, because our pride and unity is stronger than everything. 

This Purim I challenge you to carry one extra mishloach manot at all times, for an undetermined recipient, because you never know who you’ll find and how much they’ll need the gift of love from a fellow Jew.

About the Author
Hannah Geller lives in Philadelphia and leads video strategy for a global hasbara organization. She is the Director of Photography for Emmy-Nominated "Quiet Sundays,” is editing a documentary set in Poland, and aspires to be a Kosher foodie influencer. Views are hers.
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