Monday, March 1, 2010

Purim 5770 in Mea Shearim


My Purim was great although I am not the total Purim type. Not getting drunk or too excited.

It was pouring in Jerusalem yesterday and me going to a Synagogue in Mea Shearim in order to hear the Megillah (Book of Esther) went down the drain. I was in the Nachlaot neighbourhood and needed something nearby in order not to drown completely. Eventually I ended up at the Carlebach Synagogue "Kol Rina" which is located in a bomb shelter in the middle of Nachlaot. 
I am anything but Carlebach, the hippie crowd there is definitely not for me but the Megillah reading was the best I have ever heard. The Baal Koreh imitated the voices of Achashverosh and Mordechai. To Esther, Vashti and Seresh, he gave a women's voice. Someone had told me outside "Kol Rina" that we would hear a special Megillah reading and this came true.

On today's "Shushan Purim" in Jerusalem I went to Rabbi Mordechai Machlis for the "Se'udah (Purim)". Although crowded and a kind of crazy, I enjoyed it very much. Especially seeing old friends I hadn't seen for a while. One of them was even celebrating his 65th birthday. The Rabbi was very excited and, in the end, we were sitting at his table and listened to the stories he told.

My final destination was Mea Shearim; not to far away from the Machlis place. The Purim Shushan evening in Mea Shearim is a big event for anyone in the neighbourhood and for visitors from the outside. It was packed but more with locals. My first stop were the "Toldot Aharon". There I was glad that I came alone because they had private guards at all entrances. 
The years before, anyone could enter their Synagogue on Shushan Purim but only members were allowed to get closer to the Mechitzah and actually watch. I am talking about the "Ezrat Nashim - women's side". This time, private guards obviously had the duty to let in members only. The guards, however, were not always on duty and many people slipped through. Some American girls were in front of me and we got stopped by a guard. Finally I got through after having a longer discussion with the guard. Nevertheless, I only stayed for a couple of minutes, as it was too packed.

When I arrived I just saw the incident when a drunk Toldot Aharon Chassid tried to climb up onto the Rebbe's table but he got caught; and he wouldn't have made it anyway because he was too drunk. Otherwise the atmosphere was great. Loud music and dance. The women were squeezing their noses onto the Mechitzah and watching the men.

My next stop were the "Slonim" right around the corner but they rather seemed like a men's club tonight. The "Toldot Avraham Yitzchak" further down were too packed and the "Neturei Karta" seemed abandoned and dead. I made my way to Karlin - Stolin but they were only supposed to start in another hour or so. Finally I ended up at Chassidut Kretchnif across Karlin. The Kretchnifer Rebbe (Jerusalem) had a bad traffic accident about a year and a half ago and is still suffering from an injury. I think he broke his shoulder.

The real Kretchnifer celebration was due to start at 9pm upstairs in their Synagogue but when I came, about 1,5 hour earlier, they had a huge celebration downstairs. The women had pushed the Mechitzah almost aside and thus, we had a great view into the rather small room where the Rebbe was dancing wildly. He was dancing and singing and couldn't stop. A few Chassidim were dancing on the table and the atmosphere was unbelievable. Most visitors concentrate on the Toldot Aharon or Karlin but who thinks about the smaller Chassidut Kretchnif ?
Here I wasn't checked by a guard but exchanged a few words with the Kretchnifer Rebbitzen who I know from the former visits. She invited me to the later celebration but I left earlier. Instead I asked her about the Tishes and she said that one never knows. Since her husband had this bad accident, he doesn't do Tishes every week anymore.

Kretchnif was just awesome and I really enjoyed myself for an hour. There weren't too many women and we had space to stand and watch the Rebbe. Chassidim and visitors were lining up in front of the Rebbe for blessings or requests. The Rebbe had a word for everyone and kept on dancing.

I didn't want to leave but I still wanted to see something more. So, I walked over to Karlin - Stolin where the Chassidim were celebrating outside in front of the Synagogue. I had just arrived and stood nearby the tent when a grey Chrysler stopped behind me and some other women. A few Chassidim jumped out and ran towards the tent. I recognized the Karliner Rebbe who was among those Chassidim. It looks like I had just arrived on time seeing the Karliner Rebbe from only two meters far away.

My last stop was the Synagogue right across Karlin: Chassidut Satmar. 
The Satmarer group of Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum.
After being with the Satmarer twice and seeing Rebbe Aharon (November 2008 in Bnei Brak), I finally managed the group of his brother Zalman Leib. Somehow in Satmar I always end up standing on a bench and also this time. It was packed butI have to say that the Satmarer had the best music of the evening. I think it was a real singer and not only a synthesizer. The Satmarer were the only ones offering drinks to the women. In Hebrew I was told to stand on one of the benches in order to see something. Downstairs the Chassidim were dancing. Jumping up and down around a longer Tish and one Chassid walked over the Tish and handed wine to everyone.
Not to the women.

I could have stayed another few hours but decided to leave and go to sleep. It was a great Purim with many joyful events. Leaving out the firecrackers which really went on everyone's nerves.

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