The night of Purim celebrations in Tel Aviv, Israel invited harsh criticism from several, including Health Minister Yuli Edelstein himself. Party revelers gathered amass, a day before the night curfew that was to be imposed in the country, with one party at the Carmel Market on Wednesday night, which was severely criticized.
As the Carmel Market party began, videos and photos of the event on Israeli media showed large crowds partying in the market, with no social distancing or wearing of masks. Police arrived at the scene and the partyers fled, avoiding fines, but the partyers then resumed the fun at Rothschild Boulevard.
Purim is a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th-century BCE, were marked for death by their Persian rulers. The story is related in the biblical Book of Esther. It is celebrated by listening to the Book of Esther in the synagogue; sending food parcels and giving charity; dressing up in costume; eating a festive meal, including hamantaschen; parties, and parades (Adloyada); and even drinking alcoholic beverages, especially wine.
Reacting to the party at an Army Radio interview on Thursday morning, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that the future loss of lives and the closing of businesses will be on their consciences. “You see how young people are also becoming seriously ill, how death comes to all ages. Come to your senses! It’s not too late.”
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman also joined in condemning the “outrageous photos of irresponsible mass celebrations and gatherings. The responsibility is in the hands of the public, and it is very unfortunate that this is how they choose to behave these days when the morbidity figures are still high.”
To avoid more gatherings during the Purim holiday that could fuel a resurgence in coronavirus cases, the Israeli government had approved a curfew that began on the first night of Purim until Sunday morning, over in Israel. Under the new night curfew rules sanctioned by the government, Israelis were barred from traveling more than a kilometer from home between 8:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., and only essential businesses were allowed to remain open during those hours. Bans on parties and hosting guests at home were also in effect during the curfew.