From The Streets Of Purim: 12 Years Of Driving Purim Groups

By: Aron Joseph. For over twelve years now, I have been driving groups on Purim, both by day and by night. Let me tell you something, it is an amazing once a year experience. The truth is many times I would much rather be on the other side of the vehicle, or on the outside of the windshield making funny faces at some other guy behind the windshield driving, but I do get my fun, and a big Mitzvah. And yes I DO drink later on after all the collecting, when I make it back home during late afternoon for my Seudah.

I would like to share a typical Purim driving experience, and tell you all about the various groups and ages I have driven. The youngest group I ever drove was nearly ten years ago when an intrepid group of 5th graders asked me to drive them in Brooklyn. The oldest I ever drove were a gang from a Bais Medrash, and each one of them capable of driving themselves- if not for the fuel they themselves were consuming.

After breaking the fast, the group which had previously met before Maariv so as to all be in one centralized location to start their feat easily, embarked on their mission. They had written up a detailed list of where to go which was given to me as driver. I had previously insisted on one of their parent’s phone numbers as a “just in case” number to contact. That year it was not needed. They set a personal goal of raising a higher than not amount, and were gung-ho as they started. This particular group of 12 were a bunch of clowns, 10th graders and apparently seasoned at the task at hand. I cautioned them after 10:30pm, not to ring bells any further, and after about 11:00pm suggested that they begin to head home. One boy somehow had, had a bit too much, although the truth is that the Purim animation was apparent within them all. But all made it home safe and sound- filled with a lifetime of memories of a Mitzvah well done in the best possible spirit.

I one time drove a group of 7th graders. They were all a bit more timid at the prospect of collecting. Their nervousness however was only scantly detected, overshadowed by far by the exuberance and excitement of going out on Purim night like their older brothers. While not given any implicit instructions, my fatherly instincts kicked in, both in encouragement, subtle direction, and of course a distant but cautious observation. There was one boy who came back to the van with a lit cigarette, and another one begging to try it. I firstly asked the boy to get back out of the van. I met him outside and asked him if his parents would appreciate the fact that he was smoking. He was honest and said “no”. The boy took one last draw and dropped it.

While we drove off to the next stop, I pointed out to them that the Mitzvah of Kibud Av is never on vacation, and surely smoking which is very dangerous was not acceptable. I also mentioned for good measure that I would have to report back to their parents if there was any further breach in the no smoking rule. Obviously there was none.

One year a 12th grader really overdid it drinking in someone’s house. Of course I would never know whose house as the alcohol kicks in afterwards. At a point where one of his more cautious friends thought that this guy had too much, I decided that this guy needed to be left somewhere. So, convincing the group to make an “unlisted” stop at the house of a good friend of mine, I left him there, with my friends good-natured permission, with the fellow’s name and phone number masking taped too his back. As the day progressed, even the few others who had begun to have some to drink, laid off after that point.

My most difficult group believe it or not was not the ones that had too much to drink, but the ones with poor Midos. That group to me was an obvious mistake to agree to drive for from the get-go. The group was 8th or 9th graders about ten of them, and some had very poor Midos to say the least. From the moment that kid climbed into the front of the van next to me, and then replied with some profanity to some kid who wanted to sit in that exact front seat, I had this very bad feeling. It was straight after Megilah, and us breaking the fast, so no one had drunk anything, and this group already sounded like a bunch of sailors or worse. I wondered how two Tememisdika boys ended up along and I wondered throughout the evening if the parents of those two boys had any idea who their son’s “friends” were. Obvoisluy these kids thought Purim was a day to simply “let loose” and were much uninhibited in their behavior.

The bickering and arguing was persistent and while I warned them that any word I deemed inappropriate would terminate their ride, as would yelling out of the window, I still could not help very much the way they treated each other or other groups they met in the street. When one Baal Habayis came out after them to tell me that this particular institution should please not send a group to his house in the future- the boys knew they were done for. I myself vowed that I would not drive this particular group again. Alcohol was not to blame, nor Purim. This group was just an unfortunate Chevra that needed better Chinuch. I wonder if they’d behave any better on Yom Kippur.

All in all- throughout all these years, I have seen the full gambit of Purim action. Yes, many a time I was so impressed with a particular group that I even joined them in some of the houses they visited. My conveyed reflections are few but profound.

I’ve seen all sorts of things from the driver’s seat, and witnessed first hand all sorts of behaviors and reactions in the Purim streets around me. Driving needs extreme caution, as does the necessity of keeping a watchful eye of exactly which other groups may be mingling with the one under your own jurisdiction.

Two years ago, a group of teenagers were masquerading about in a super duper stretch something, and I realized immediately that they were absolutely not from any Yeshiva per say. The Chilul Hashem this group was causing was a sorry sight, and was much exacerbated by their intoxication. The truth is I’ve no idea what they were high on- but B”H, my sixth sense and years of experience cautioned me not to let my group out near them, and after sheer will power was able to convince the 9th graders behind me to come back to that particular location later. We did meet up with that group again a bit later on, and once again we avoided them.

Yet the usual Simcha is so beautiful to watch, even and may I add especially those outside my window that may have had a one too many. The Ahavas Yisroel, and Ahavas HaTorah that is expressed is matchless. The beautiful usual Achdus that prevails amongst the various groups that meet and the other Bnei Torah that roams or wobble freely about with their special Chochmas and meaningless Shtickle Toras is really Geshmak and simply stated special.

What I can tell any parent of every age group is- your child will have a wonderful, exciting, fulfilling time running about on Purim. The enthusiasm of the youngsters is contagious and their commitment to the task and goal on hand leaves little time else for any other distraction. The younger the group- the quicker they run out of the van to reenter that great world of Purim, and hustle back so fast to the van after getting their share – it is startling to a driver who had previously experienced bumbling older guys try to do an oil check before each stop. (in Purim spirit of course- so don’t ask me why!) That group of 5th graders that I one time drove were so filled with sheer joy at their first Purim driving about as a group – that they sat so obediently in the van with these huge grins just not knowing what to do with themselves. Of course I was peppered with curiosity and concern, and asked of for timing and Hanhaga the entire time. But I did not mind, as their true Simchas Hachayim mad it all worth it.

For younger groups of elementary school age, make sure to set firm ground rules with your child, and make sure the driver is a responsible counselor type. The driver should be given a contact phone number just in case a child decides to cause a serious enough infraction- let the children know in advance that they are being watched. The truth is – the younger children don’t know what to expect – and it is sometimes hilarious to listen to them talk between themselves at the ridiculousness of something they had witnessed in the house they were just in. Most elementary age children find the Vildkiet and extremes revolting, and seek shelter back in their van if things are out of hand. I’ve witnessed this more than once.

What can I say, the older they get the more the Spirit of Purim seems to mature or immature with them. A driver must keep a caring eye to make sure that safety and health stay intact. Of course every driver should have a contact number for a “just in case’ and such a thing is not just advisable for a driver of a younger group.

All in all, the Purim Street is a special place that intersects but once a year. It is paved overall with Ahavas Yisroel, and then some green and liquids. The experience is unique and can never be recaptured. Overall, be safe and healthy, yet go out and enjoy. Purim is what you make of it, make the most of it and on it!! A Freilichin Purim.

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  1. A warm, well written account that sounds accurate. I was along many times as a passanger and know although I was one of the guys doing the oil checking. But I am sure the van was leaking something.

    There is very little to be worried about as a parent especially when the driver is reponsible. 5th grade is a wee bit young though?!

    A point for this author to make in regard to his writings which are usually solid is to proof read what you write. I think you probably type very quickly and accidently add or leave out a letter in a word or a comma. I know from my own experiences.

    Thanks for the memories. Enjoy the street again!

  2. As someone who gets bored after megillah each year I volunteer to drive a group. It is a huge chesed to protect these children and make sure they get he safely.
    fathers, what are you doing Purim night? Drive your sons
    Its the best idea ever to ensure your son is safe.

  3. I’m concerned about the amount of local traffic and people in general using the streets during public school dismissals on Thursday. Are there any extra measures in place?

  4. To Local, during the public school hours the street by your school is blocked off so nobody can use that street and now that its a holiday for us you want more act taken. there is always traffic when you dismiss on thursday there will be alittle more deal with it. just like when there are your holidays and our kids still have school we have deal with the traffic we don’t get any special treatment at our dismissals

  5. hi im looking to pay someone to drive a group of 4 boys on purim day from 12 to 3 anyone intrested?and where can i pls find someone…..good pay

  6. this whole bahula should be abolished. A bunchof kids running around like wolf packs destrying peoples house and being downrite abnoxious, have do derech eretz for older people or for people waiting line before them,fighting wiyth other groups for “turf” i never saw any 2 groups dancing together (so much for achdus)etc. after two years of putting up with this kind of “simchas Purim” i closed my doors and leave envelopes by my door to be filled out and send the tzodoko by mail. But I do miss the old fashion true simchas purim

  7. Somehow I think you should drive around and see how others manage their own Purim scene.

    For some reason it must be just your house and the prevailing atmosphere inside that might bring out such behavior from everyone that crosses your threshold.

    Or is it perhaps just the lenses you use on and to gaze at Purim overall?

    Most anyone in the world can tell you that Achdus does prevail all over the place. Perhaps go around with a group you choose and see for yuorself.

    Also- it can be possible that some people misbehave. But the op wrote so concisly- that is reflective of who those people are- it has absolutley nothing to do with Purim, drinking, collecting, or anything involving the time of year. It is only reflectve of the person himself.

    Enjoy Purim. Hope your envelopes dont get trampled!

  8. I called my son’s daycamp head counselor to ask if he knew of a very responsible person to take my 6th graders group around. He had someone the next day. We are offering to pay.

    Usually the camp administartions know very well who’s out there and who can be trusted.

  9. to #15 nice speech you must of heard it in sem. I still kept some clips from from my security camaras which can shock you into reality.If it will be “letoeles” I can foward them to TLS if he would post them.PS you can watch by any house how these tzadikim “trample” the garden, not only my ” envelopes”

  10. I suppose you are right. Your harboring on watching reruns of your trampled garden creates a very bad affect on one’s emotional health.

    Your poor roses or violets or grass… yes absolutely.

    If you are a man of means- which you seem to be – security cameras and all- Marbeh Nechosim (including garden) Marbeh Daagah- you can very well figure out how to deal with your unique sensetivity to your plants as opposed to sensetivity to Bnei Torah completely caught up in the spirit of the day.

    Why don’y you buy another attached piece of property to your own- and receive all in a tent pitched there- or anywhere- or join another less inhibited and more forgiving and tolorable Bal Habayis in his own home and distribute from their.

    Yes it is an incinvienence to you- but planting a garden and complaining and degrading Bnei Torah who on Purim of all times are not exactly studying what is underfoot- especially when they do not realize- is a bigger inconvinence to the world at large.

    So in the spirit of the day- figure something out – L’fum Tzara Agra- and you will find completeness as a Jew who’s da’as on Purim would be in line with orthodox tradition and would be Daito Me’ureves Im Habriyos.

    Happy Purim.

  11. You have a very nice pen, but you are varying off topic, which is not my tolerance level
    or my giving practices (which Im very proud of, and the receivers are very content with b”h) . We are discussing the behavior of the buchrim at peoples houses on Purim ,which is unacceptable regardless of the spirit of the day. You can be daan them lecaf zecus which is fine (as long as they don’t throw up in your kitchen) but we should expect better from “Bnei Tora”. As far as your idea (sic) buying the property next door $575,000 plus demolition $12,000 plus tent $1500 etc thats close to $600,000…Nah I’ll keep my roses & garden & in the “spirit” of the day that kind of money can be put to better use i.e. nitzrochim & moisdos not to contain bochrim who wanna have FUN.
    PS For all those who know who I am, I will be available Purim day and all year round.
    Ah freilachen and Yidishe Purim!

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