Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Letter from Netanya - Jan Gaines on Purim

Dear Friends,

   Purim is here with sunshine and perfect weather. Israelis say it always rains on Purim but this year, after weeks of storms, Purim is a treat.

  Yesterday, schools held their Purim parties, with kids from 4 to 17 getting into some sort of Purim ensemble.  The teenagers amused me the most. The girls found every kind of strapless and mini-skirt outfit possible, from waitresses to bunnies.and brides.  But the boys only dress their hair, coloring it every shade possible, often 3 or 4 kinds together. The little ones have the same kind of Halloween regalia you are used to seeing except for specials this year: Israeli police and IDF for the boys, and TV characters for the girls. It seems to me we have fewer Queen Esthers and Modechai's every year.  There are huge Purim parades to rival Macy's in both Holon and Tel Aviv, but here in Netanya it's very amateurish. Still, it's a happy time, for everyone except the two working parents who have to take time off for the next 4 days.

   I find it kind of awesome that this year we celebrate Purim as if it were 2500 years ago when we also faced destruction from the same Persians. Does history really repeat itself?  I guess for the Jews, always!  However if you ask me are Israelis scared, emphatically no!   Not even spooked. It may be in the back of people's minds but certainly not in the front.

  The government hasn't ordered us to clean out our shelters, or get our gas masks replaced.  In fact, there is a shortage of gas masks because the govt. claims it ran out of money. Nobody believes that.  Take your choice of reasons:

the Home Front command doesn't think gas masks will do any good, or they have about half the population quietly covered and they don't want protests from the other half,  or they don't want the Iranians to see preparations for war- - - -who knows.?  As for me, I turned mine in 5 years ago with everyone else, for refitting, but never got to the distribution location to pick one up.;  I finally went the other day only to find it has closed down.  !!!

   Before the 2nd Gulf War I remember well how extensive preparations were and how it seemed daily the govt was urging us to get our shelters ready.  But of course that was when everyone expected to be attacked.  This time we will do the attacking!  Perhaps they feel there is still a little time left to prepare. However, most of the Israelis I talk to in my unscientific poll, feel that there will be a war. They say we are dealing with the determined and "irrational" mullahs who don't operate like responsible leaders and who don't care about killing their own people.

   What is really interesting to me is how many "secular" Israelis feel that in the end, God will somehow protect or save us. Maybe that is a reaction to the realization that we are sitting ducks (appropos of Bibi's great speech at AIPAC) just waiting for the nuclear ducks, or maybe it is based on Israeli's great awareness of our history of miraculous survival here in the land, in one war or skirmish after another. But I'm reminded of what Kerrin Behrend said, "They are more anxious about getting a parking place in Tel Aviv" than the threat of war.

  So don't cancel any trips you've planned for the summer, PLEASE. Remember, Israel has never lost a tourist!  And maybe we'll scrape through this crisis too.

  Finally, BE HAPPY.  IT'S ADAR.  Hag Sameach.  Jan

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