Sunday, March 18, 2012

Purim in Tel Aviv

Purim is a Jewish Holiday celebrating the events described in the Book of Esther. Basically, evil guy named Haman tried to convince the Persian King Ahasuerus (who in fact historically syncs up with King Xerxes who most people will know from the movie 300 as an impossibly large guy with an impossibly deep voice - anyway...) to kill the Jews. Esther, who had become queen by being the most beautiful in the Kings eyes then reveals herself to be Jewish and exposes Haman's evil plan. The holiday subscribes to the adage that follows most Jewish holidays and that is this: "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat."

Purim is all about hiding ones identity - Esther hiding the fact that she is Jewish, Haman hiding the fact that he is evil, Ahasuerus hiding his secret obsession with gold jewelry, Mordecai (Esther's righteous cousin and adopted father)'s behind the scenes helping people like he's Batman... and so a central pillar in celebrating Purim is dressing up in masks. Jewish Halloween, essentially. Exhibit A - Chareidi guy talking to a crazy dressed person:
Picture worthy.
Theodor Herzl is largely considered the founding father of the idea of a modern Jewish state. He looked like this:
Those far-seeing eyes see a new state on the horizon.
Anyway, he's a very recognizable figure here. I happen to have been blessed with a natural talent for looking like him upon my arrival, so all it took was a couple of wardrobe changes to bring Herzl back to life.
"If you will it - it is no dream" - Thejoshdor, Herzl
A couple of Israelis commenting on my beard before Purim even began brought up Herzl's name so this was a no-brainer for the first "day" of Purim (Purim was actually Wednesday night-Thursday, but here it was celebrated Tuesday-Saturday!).

There was a massive zombie walk that started near King George Street, and there you could see just how much Purim is related to Halloween and how much Israel is connected culture-wise to the rest of the world, what with the zombie craze and all that going on. There were lots of zombie versions of pop-culture figures. I thought of going as Zombie Herzl, but in the end chose not to.
Your brains are in another castle.
Oh... I'm sorry. In my last post, did I make it seem as though I shaved off my entire beard in one day?? No no no nooooo. My bad. I made as much use out of the facial hair as possible throughout the week.
Jolly good! Eh, what?
Exactly like Halloween back home.
The spirit of Purim is evident everywhere. In malls, on the streets, on the beach.
Here Adrian brings the magic of costumery to the beach.
I should also note here that Purim is also a holiday known for merry making. It is, after all, a commandment to be so "merry" as to not know the difference between haman the evil and mordecai the righteous. Just food for thought while enjoying the following pictures.
Just a couple of circus freaks.
Risky Business.
Risky indeed.
I come from the distant past to investigate how humanity evolves in the futah!
To industry!
When I wear two hats I become doubly fancy.
Friday during the day there was a large street fair near the Tel Aviv museum of art. When I say large I mean it was completely packed. There was live music, and plenty of creative costumes. By this time I had devolved into the Pringles guy.
Once you pop... you know the rest.
Some guy dressed as a GIANT Smirnoff bottle.
I believe that Beast and the rest of these princesses converged on this spot independent of one another.
That a pretty excellent rendition of a pretty crappy Willy Wonka.
That Beast and Belle seriously went all out.
This Captain America was pretty miserable - probably because he misses his country..
Hello? Yes, this is King.
Once again, several individual geishas converged at the same spot.
If she doesn't scare ya, no evil thing will.
Lots of Purim observers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tales of Beardle the Beard Part II

Since my last post about growing a beard, I think it's probably fair to say that it got a little out of hand...
When I arrived to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, I was asked a few extra questions at various points on my way to passport control from security. I was expecting this and understand why they pulled me aside to ask me about my reasons for visiting Israel and such, but in my case they were misidentifying me as a threat. I think I may have made a few of the security personnel feel bad when I told them that this was my sixth time in Israel and when they saw all the Israel stamps plus the Hebrew University student visa in my passport.

Back in civilization, and with people who were not familiar with the practice of contractors downrange growing a beard being an impulse as natural as the migratory patterns of birds - it was time to shave. As usual, I did it in stages.
I've been spending most of my time in Israel with people on a Masa program called Career Israel. The living situation is sort of like an American dorm setting and so meeting people was often a whirlwind of names and faces. I had already gotten to meet a bunch of people on the program by the time I was going to shave - so no doubt I confused a bunch of people when my facial hair disappeared and I looked completely different.
Hey, I kinda look like Herzl...
Yes, by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.
"It feels so weird!"
By Jove!
Ok... Maybe I didn't reach the supreme levels of beard-hood to which I once aspired personified in the late Admiral John Grimes Walker's face, but I think it was pretty respectable.
A little lopsided.
Now I look like I might be ready to open a barber shop of my own, in around 1880.
I'm in the market for a bicycle with a GIANT front wheel, and a teeny rear wheel.
Almost there.
Getting closer...
Hi we actually met earlier, but I'm Josh - yeah the guy with the big beard.