Jewish communities across the world today observe the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia as recounted in the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Hebrew calendar, Purim is celebrated on the 14th of the month of Adar.
In accordance with ancient tradition rooted in Chapter 9, Verse 28 of the Book of Esther, observers exchange gifts of food, make donations to charity, participate in feasts with friends and family, publicly recite the Scroll of Esther (known as the “reading of the Megillah”) and add further prayers to those normally performed after meals and throughout the day.
Other traditions include the donning of masks and costumes for public events, including parades (Adloyadah); which are a highlight among Israel’s largely secular population. Face masks and surgical garb were popular outfits mixed among more traditional choices of biblical figures and superheroes. Many Israeli parents refused to limit their children’s celebration of the holiday despite rising numbers of coronavirus cases. One woman told Reuters, “I feel that this is their holiday, I don’t want to spoil the holiday,” comparing COVID-19 to “a flu” and suggesting the contagion was being “exaggerated.” After saying she wasn’t “so concerned personally,” another mother said “it’s very important for me to give the children a very good feeling of Purim and happiness,” emphasizing that “It’s a very important holiday for the children, so we try to be very happy for them.”