A new organization called Olam Haba is helping host a Purim concert and parade in Jerusalem. Gabe Crane spoke to Arutz Sheva about the event. "For us, olam haba is not just some place that exists somewhere over the rainbow," Crane stated. Ed. note:The term is roughly translated as "the world to come."
Crane says the concept does not necessarily imply a post-mortem existence or a distant future. "We're interested in what olam haba looks like in this world, in olam hazeh, and what can we do to create places of celebration and interaction and make it a better place," explained Crane.
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"I think we find so much in the world right now is based around division and conflict," Crane stated. "Even some of the popular movements that have arisen over the last couple of years, such as the Arab spring and the Occupy movement, are very much a big show of people against some small group."
By contrast Crane seeks a more inclusive atmosphere. "We all have a piece in this place," he commented.
The event will be held in conjunction with another new organization called Spiritual Judaism. The group's coordinator in Israel is Pesach Stadlin, a young man whom Crane describes as "an amazing individual."
Spiritual Judaism is planning a Purim parade with a horse and buggy which will distribute mishloach manot, traditional gifts of ready-to-eat food given to friends on Purim, as they travel from Mount Zion, through downtown Jerusalem, ending in Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood near the Machane Yehuda marketplace.
Stadlin calls it "love mischief" and promises music, healthy food and "good energy." The Jewish Unity Project, a group that performs music for Israel Defense Force soldiers. will be assisting the effort as well.
The music portion of the evening will take place on Thursday night. As Jerusalem is considered an ancient walled city, Purim is celebrated one day later there than in the rest of the Jewish world. The deliverance of the Jews, as described in the book of Esther, took place the day after regular Purim in cities surrounded by walls such as Shushan and Jerusalem.
The band Aharit Hayamim will perform as well as Shai Sorek and Michael Kelter (SHAKSHUKA). Aharit Hayamim is a popular act comprised of members from Gush Etzion, Jerusalem, France and Reunion Island. They play a mix of ethnic and world music which incorporates reggae, klezmer and other styles.
The concert will take place on Mount Zion adjacent to the Tomb of King David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. It is co-sponsored by the Diaspora Yeshiva and "Music N Art on Mt. Zion", a group that has been holding Wednesday night concerts every week in an effort to maintain life and culture in the Mount Zion neighborhood. The music is planned to last all night, with the Purim parade starting Friday morning.
A mishloach manot food drive is scheduled for Thursday with an organization called Sachi, an organization that works with twelve different groups in different Israeli cities. High school age students from low income neighborhoods will distribute the food packages to families in need in their own communities. Following the food drive will be a megillah reading on Mount Zion.
"We're trying to explore Purim as a day where old barriers dissolve, where you can't, as the Talmudic Sages said about alcoholic drinks on the holiday, tell the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordechai," Crane explained.
For Crane, this is not just another event, but his first since arriving in Israel on a special grant from the Haas/Koshland Award. He and his co-director and fiance, Alison Axelrod, are "spending the year exploring and connecting with people and figuring out how we can bring olam haba," Crane stated.
Hailing from Berkeley, California, Crane grew up with a Reform Jewish background and has become more spiritually interested in Judaism over the last few years. "I'm here to learn from the people in this country and bring a message that there is hope and it's right here, right now, not tomorrow," he stated.