Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Purim 2014~Friends, Mea Shearm Tishes and a Fight?

Click on Photos to Enlarge
In Jerusalem, the first Megillah reading was on Sunday evening. We decided to go to Chabad Rehavia~it was not a good choice. To his credit the rabbi is very energetic and always has many events, among them a marathon of Megillah readings. The problem is, he is too busy trying to get large crowds and in the end it is more about donations and the true purpose of the gathering gets lost. 

For Example:
This past Yom Kippur I went to his service, and came away very upset. He spent a large portion of the day "auctioning" off aliyahs and the privilege of opening the curtains on the ark. My entire Yom Kippur memory is of him saying, "Do I hear another thousand shekel??" The prayers had to be cut short and vidui rushed to be in time for the shofar blowing. There was no spirituality.  

It was not much better at Sunday's Megillah reading. There were way too many people for the small room, and most were standing outside. He did not have a microphone like the past year, and the only ones who heard anything were the people right in front of him~we didn't even know when he was reading. The majority of us just left. I really like Chabad, but I will not go to this rabbi in Rehavia again. He is too much about money.
This Was A Better Megillah Reading

We started the evening on Monday by visiting a favorite rabbi who was having a great party. I was very pleased to see the kids and grandkids in costumes and to listen to the rabbi teaching and everyone singing.

The best place to be on Purim is Mea Shearim. Over the past couple of years it has been getting harder to gain entrance as many outsiders were coming into the area and behaving badly. My friend and I still go, but we stay very low-key and behave.

As we strolled the streets it seemed that the revelers were already well on their way to the point where they couldn't tell Mordechai from Haman. 

We did notice that many were only staggering if they thought someone was watching!

The first stop was at Karlin-Stolin. If you are part of the group you can go into the synagogue and hang out the windows, but this is always so packed I would never bother. Only a few can make it to the front to actually see and hear.
There is really only one place for women to stand~on the street at the top of the stairs. I tried making my way down the stairs in the past but was quickly told that this was for men only. 

It was still early but the crowds were already shuffling for the best view point. 

Even though it was the adults who were trying their best to put on a show, it was the wee kiddies that really make the walk worth while.
There were many children in adorable costumes, ranging from Queen Esther, Vashti and Haman to Cohen Gadolim, and anything you could think of. I noticed this year that many kids had costumes that were "scenes". One girl was dressed as a table set for Purim, another came as a popcorn machine, and one little boy was dressed as a pole with mini-haman and his sons hanging down. It was impossible to catch them on camera~too many people pushing and shoving and rushing!

The people in Mea Shearim really go all out to dress the children and prepare amazing Mishloach Manot~Some that we saw even had small oil paintings with goodies piled in front all wrapped in clear-wrap with bows. 
There are parents who do not like the children to be out after dark, so we saw many families on their balconies watching the comings and goings.

Of course, the only way to travel is on foot. Anyone trying to get a vehicle through the streets was doomed to spend a lot of time "sitting".

Although everyone was carrying a "bottle", or in some cases a "shopping bags and pockets full of bottles" the entire atmosphere was one of fun, and everyone looked like they were having a very good time indeed.

Toldos Aaron has a new synagogue, but they now have so many members that it is impossible to see anything. It is also a very long climb up the stairs for the women!

We peeked in and although this is a favorite of ours, decided to forgo the scrum and moved on to other tishes!
In front of the Breslov synagogue a "NaNa" van pulled up. This is an offshoot group who follow Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

They seem to spend their time driving around the streets, playing music and dancing, in the streets, on their vans, or wherever they find space! They are very upbeat and never fail to draw a crowd of people to join in the fun. Needless to say, traffic in three directions was stopped.

The Rebbe with the Fish Course
The tishes at Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok have always been my favorite. The rebbe really seems to enjoy music and they always have a good band. He is not a young man, but when there is a tish the rebbe will stay through the night!

The tish this year was already in full swing when we made our way to the women's section. 

We were very lucky to get a spot near the windows and had a pretty good view of the band, the men dancing, and of course the rebbe. 

Picture taking is hard because of the one-way glass, and you don't even want to know how many fingerprints there are! Still we did see something.

Just Before the Fracas Started
Almost from the start there seemed to be some sort of altercation in the men's section. There was a man in a red hat who was very determined to make it to the rebbe, and in fact he did get right beside him.

Suddenly an number of others decided he should not be there and the tussle began. I was able to get two short video clips. The first was right at the beginning when they tried to drag the red hat out, and the second was near the end.
Now It Begins!

What I found interesting was the rebbe. Through it all, he continued to beat time to the music, and for all intents and purposes completely ignoring the ballygan! At the end of the second video, he reaches for his mug of wine and takes a little sip~cool as can be.

Although there were women from the group with cameras, a few of them seemed to be keeping an eye on me and my friend as we filmed. I think this was partly because they did not want their faces to appear on someones camera and partly because they don't like outsiders to put their group on display. Or maybe I was just being too self-conscious!

We did have a very good time and came home tired, but happy...Purim Someach!

Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Tish~and The Fight Has Started!

While the Guys Wrestle, The Rebbe Remains in His Own World

***If you want to see more videos and pictures, go to Shearim blog. She has several posts. Here are the links to some of  her pictures and videos:

And here is a picture that I have no place to put, but I love it. As we were walking around in Mea Shearim we spotted many of these signs. They are starting to appear in religious neighbourhoods where the people avoid things that bring temptation (or something). Basically it is stating that "this house" does not have internet, computers, cell phones, movies, etc.

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