Tuesday, August 20, 2019 -
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Those goofy, photoshopped window cleaners

When I saw a photo circulating of a tall building with “window cleaners” in the form of superheroes hanging down, my interest was piqued. The caption described superheroes delivering Purim treat baskets (mishlochei manot) to children at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel. How sweet and how creative the idea — and the Photoshop.

During the week of Purim, Israeli hospitals are abuzz with clowns, music, masked visitors and Purim treat baskets generously handed out. No child should ever have to be in a hospital any time, let alone on a holiday, but life doesn’t always live up to our dreams of what life ought or ought not to be.

When an innocent child is already painfully separated from society, sequestered in a hospital, the Purim cheer means that much more. In Israel the efforts put into cheering up the ill, especially children, is legendary; so on Purim it’s amplified.

Even though the “window cleaners” were Photoshopped, I thought to myself that this is really symbolic of the twin energies of both Israel’s national Purim spirit and its care for its children, especially those stricken with illness.

In a sense, this is one of the themes of the holiday.

On the Shabbat preceding Purim, Jews gather in synagogues to hear a brief paragraph read from the Torah that boils down to: Don’t forget what the Amalekites did to you when you were refugees leaving Egypt.

It’s a bit of a strange ritual. One would think it healthier to focus on the future, not to dwell on wrongs of the past. Forgive and forget, right?

But before Purim, we pause to remember when a descendant of Amalek threatened the first genocide of the Jews. Remember the essence of Amalek! It attacked the Jewish stragglers: the vulnerable. That is whom Amalek preys on: the vulnerable.

Purim celebrates the relief from the actual physical threat by Amalek’s descendant, but also remembers the original Amalek — the cruelty, the weak, the ones left behind.

On this reading, anyone is capable of descending into an Amalek. Any person, any society. To abandon or to attack the weak is to be Amalek. This makes the anti-Amalek mentality one that looks after the most vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, the children and even the animals, and of course the stranger among us.

And so, the heady joy that is shared with the children at hospitals not only pulls on your heartstrings as an individual but is life-affirming as a society. This is the antithesis of Amalek; this is a society that looks after its vulnerable; in this case, the pain of children who are hospital-bound.

The laughter and love, the outrageous acts of fun and adventure that are depicted in this photo are priceless. Whether healing is always possible, bringing a smile to a child’s face is always available. Maybe laughter and love might just be the best medicine after all.

That’s what this photo radiated, the love and laughter you could only imagine a child would feel if the sweet surprise of a Purim basket were tossed at them through their hospital window, as if by an angel from the sky!

Too bad it’s just a photo, I thought to myself. Obviously something so elaborate and over-the-top like that is a fantasy even for Israeli Purim, when no stone of goofiness and shenanigans goes unturned. Face it, Purim in Israel would probably give Mardi Gras in New Orleans a run for its money.

I randomly check my email and see the following subject line: check this out.

I click on it and lo and behold, not only is it the photo of the tall building with the superhero “window washers” hanging by a thread, throwing Purim baskets through the windows — but it’s a video! A live video. I see it happening with my own eyes and can hear a crowd cheering them on in Hebrew!

It’s real! Superman, Batman and Spiderman swung mishlochei manot through the hospital windows of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Some of those children’s fantasies did materialize. Look, it’s a bird, it’s a plane.

No, it’s hamantaschen!

They were flying through hospital windows into childrens’ hands. Tossed not by static photo heroes or film superheroes, but by real superheroes.

That kind of sense of care and fun can’t be topped.

That’s Israel.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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