Spending Purim in my lovely Long Island suburb, which has a substantial Jewish community was a treat, with the usual sights of grownups in crazy hats or wigs circumnavigating the town in their minivans as costumed kids deliver m'shloah manot like some kind of Judaicized, high-fructose United Parcel Service.
But I couldn't help feeling nostalgic about the old days in Brooklyn. Outside of Jerusalem, there's just no other place where Purim feels like a national holiday, with alternate-side parking suspended and parades in the street, teens in matching costumes dancing their way in and out of stretch limos going door to door to fundraise for their yeshivas; streets blocked off for celebrations and piles of goodie baskets accumulating on every doorstep.
People wander from suedah to seudah, loudly singing al the way, and the streets fall quiet promptly at sundown as the festive meals ended and men went to sleep it all off. Chabad vehicles drive around with "Mi'shenichnas Adar" blaring from speakers. Often a guy in a costume rode a donkey down the block -- I forget if he was supposed to be Mordechai or Haman -- and like a pied piper was tailed by a long string of gleeful kids.
This was Purim for the 12 years I lived in the heart of Jewish Flatbush, and it was one of the year's highlights.
We move to the suburbs for a quieter, laid back life and are happy to enjoy it, except for the times when we're reminded to be careful what we wish for, and lament about what we left behind.
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