For the vast majority of the Shana Ba’aretz girls, a year in midrasha has meant that we have been faced with the challenge to celebrate most of the holidays without our family. While this can cause some nostalgia and the occasional homesickness, it also means that we have had the opportunity to make the chaggim infinitely special- we have been given a chance to really make them, for the first time, our own.
Purim proved to be no exception: the atmosphere that permeates Israel during the month of Adar is indescribable. Everywhere you go there are people in costumes, singing in the streets of Jerusalem. Personally, Purim turned out to be one of the loveliest and most meaningful holidays I have ever experienced.
One of the events that really added to the Purim experience on a personal level was the Shuk Purim that the Shana Ba’aretz girls ran for the community of Pat.
We transformed Nishmat’s parking lot into a palace themed carnival, complete with “court jesters,” food, games, and prizes. My favorite part was seeing the plethora of costume choices. They ranged from the traditional Mordechai and Esther, to Winnie the Pooh characters, princesses, artists and animals. I had the personal privilege of being the photographer. Through my lens I observed the wonderfully unique personalities that each kid added to the group.
The Shuk allowed us to become a bigger part of the community of Pat as a whole. The week before Purim many of us walked around the area, even in the pouring rain, inviting all the families to join us in the festivities. While many of us visit families in Pat during our weekly volunteering hours, it is still a challenge to truly connect to the community as a complete entity. The carnival offered us the opportunity to take an active role in creating a fun and interactive space for the neighborhood- geared towards sharing the joy of Adar together with our guests. Kids from all different types of families came to participate in the Purim celebrations. They showed off their costumes in the costume contest, dove for candy in the candy pit, won prizes by pinning the tail on Vashti, and danced to Purim themed music with our clowns.
The carnival was well enjoyed by parents and kids alike, and made the us feel as though we were a part of a new type of family during Purim- one that was warm and communal.