Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jews 1, Haman, zip. Bli ayin hara, puh-puh-puh.

Yom chamishi, 16 Adar 5769.

This Purim, we put a serious dent in the devil's dump truck.

 
We started the day with our traditional "healthy breakfast," which has been a staple of our Purim celebration since the boys were little kids.  Cereal boxes, emptied of their air-puffed contents, filled instead with candy.  "Orange juice" tasting suspiciously of RC "Q" orange soda pop.  (I love to say "soda pop," because it drives East Coasters crazy.)
  
Breakfast is served in pots and pans, instead of bowls, and eaten with wiggly plastic flatware that we have managed to hang onto through 15 Purims.  If we would ever decide that the boys had outgrown this peculiar custom, they have informed us that we would be traded in for more sensitive parents.

 The kids were funny.  Their self-designed costumes were cute and inexpensive, and fulfilled the time-honored concept of letting one's "true self" shine through.   Clowns, and seriously unthreatening "punks."  The young hopefuls.  (Sigh.)


We were blessed to start the day with an email from our dear friend, Nisan Jaffee.  He had written one of his famous grommens.  (How do you say that?  Grommenim?  Grommenot?  You know you're no longer an olah chadasha when you are now inept in two or three languages...)  Nisan sang a funny and sad tune about all of his old friends who had made aliyah.  Since he is a master of capturing one's character, and we could "hear" his voice rich with the Virgin Islands, singing the tune -- it gave us laughter and smiles and sighs.  It touched on the one difficult aspect of our Purim in Israel:  We really miss our dear friends in Baltimore.
We shared the seuda with two neighboring families -- our Sephardi Israeli landlords, and an Ashkenazi Israeli family that lives across the street.  We shared pieces of languages; and everyone patiently and humorously attempted to communicate.  I actually got little Yinon's joke, b'Ivrit!  

"Which radio station is mentioned in Tanach?"  The answer is "Kol Yisrael."  I got a nice smile out of Yinon, and a visual "atta girl," when I said, "Not Galgalatz?"  (For anyone not yet in the know, Galgalatz is a very funky radio station designed to entertain soldiers.  A fuller explanation can be found at What War Zone???, Benji Lovitt's blog.)  Before and after a delicious potluck feast, we shared a common language, known for leveling the playing field.  Everyone brought out instruments, and made joyful music together.  We discovered that Rav Reuven has remarkable rhythm playing that famous instrument, the fancy wine corkscrew.  A natural percussionist!

There were interesting discussions about (I think, if I translated correctly,) the nature of good disguised behind evil in the world, and questions of what can the Jew of today gain from the celebration of Purim.  How does the observance of Purim b'zman hazeh help to bring the Geula?

A lovely night was topped off with the Stunt Man's tribute to Nisan Jaffee, which he wrote on and off through the day.  In it he included verses about many of our friends in Baltimore, and some about new friends here.  Since he is a budding master of capturing one's character, his performance filled us with laughter and smiles and sighs.*

For me the most precious thing is that our teenangels kept our contract:  We simple Jews do not in this day understand the inyan to drink oneself silly quite well enough to "get so drunk, one cannot tell the difference between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman."   They drank enough wine to tear down the walls between Jews; but nobody got sloppy and sick.  Nobody forgot for Whom he works.


The main theme of today's post is as follows.  Purim 5769 will go down in the chronicles as the first in a long time in which there was for our family light, joy, gladness and honor...  and good, clean, honest kef.

So may it be for us -- and all of the House of Israel -- for all future Purims.


 *Before you even ask, we are hoping to create a video of Stunt Man singing his grommen for a future blog post.
Glossary:
Haman:  bad guy in the Purim story
Soda pop:  soda, or pop, depending on where you grew up
Grommen:  a short verse, often in rhyme, often poking gentle fun
Olah chadasha:  a female new immigrant to Israel
Seuda:  festive meal
B'zman hazeh:  in these days
Inyan:  main theme
Kef:  fun.  Interestingly, there is no word in the Hebrew language for "fun."  We had to take this from the Arabic.     
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