No parties or parades, but other possibilities remain for Purim

Making plans for Purim? Don’t go overboard, as cabinet ministers decided to institute a three-night curfew (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.) over the holiday weekend.

Purim begins this Thursday evening and carries on through Sunday, when the walled cities of Jerusalem and Safed celebrate Shushan Purim. After three prolonged lockdowns and plenty of time at home, the need for festivities is high.

While large public Megillah readings, parties and parades may not be happening, local museums, municipalities and artisans are offering some new ideas, whether in person or at home.

1) The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem hopes to open its doors on Sunday, February 28, asking visitors to order tickets ahead of time. Visitors can tour the museum and partake in arts and crafts activities such as making Greek or Egyptian headpieces, or a scavenger hunt through the galleries.

Making masks and Greek and Egyptian wear at the Bible Lands Museum, either in place or online (Courtesy Bible Lands Museum)

If it makes more sense to stay home, the museum created four videos for different activities, including mask-making and preparing date candies, all available for free on the museum website, YouTube channel, Facebook page or Instagram page.

(The Israel Museum and Tel Aviv Museum of Art are also offering scavenger hunts for kids, including kits to work on at the grounds of the museum.)

The beloved musical Banai family’s Megillah made its way from Persia to Jerusalem, on exhibit at the Tower of David Museum (Courtesy Tower of David)

2) Learn about a family Megillah scroll brought to Israel from Iran, known back then as Persia, by Meir Eliyahu Banai — great-grandfather to musician Meir Banai.

The Megillah is part of the exhibit “Banai, A Musical Journey from Persia to Jerusalem,” about the beloved musical family, currently on display at the Tower of David.

The museum is open, and will have a free virtual exhibition visit in Hebrew, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. to learn about the Banai Megillah.

Great-grandfather Banai gifted the Megillah to his wife, and the scroll then made its way from Persia to Israel by way of Shushan and Shiraz. The virtual tour guided by curator Tal Kobo and researcher Orly Rahimiyan will include tales of the traditions that developed in those ancient cities, with a musical performance of classic Persian folk music by Menashe Sasson and Farzane Cohen of the Ensemble Golha.

3) If your Purim costumes are linked to Jerusalem’s days of old, take a stroll along the walking path of the Old City walls and snap a selfie against the ancient backdrop.

Purim costumes pictured against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City walls (Courtesy I Travel Jerusalem)

The promenade on top of the walls, recently refurbished after being built 500 years ago by Sultan Suleiman, offers views of the Old and New City of Jerusalem. A free audio tour is available on the I Travel Jerusalem app, for Android devices only.

Tickets (NIS 20 per adult, NIS 10 per child, soldier, senior, student), are available online or at the box office near Jaffa Gate.

4) Find a Megillah reading close to home with the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization and Ohr Torah Stone Network, which are coordinating 400 readings in more than 200 communities across Israel.

Participants should follow the news for any changes. The Megillah reading programs will be taking place with adherence to social distancing and masking, according to the organizers.

The program is open to all ages and is designed for both religious and secular communities, with guided explanations throughout the readings.

5) Two Galilean artisans are offering kits and workshops for their specialties over Purim.

Chocolatier Shlomit Zamir of Odette Chocolate has workshops in person or kits for making chocolate clowns, while leather artisan Eldad Bachar put together leather mask kits for creating at home.

Go to the Western Galil website for more information and other virtual tours.

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