Photo Credit:

With the arrival of Purim, a carnival-like celebration of the failure of a Persian vizier to carry out his plot to annihilate the Jews, the streets of Israel are filled with the merry noise of small firecrackers and cap guns being played with by children. The common Israeli firecrackers are small and harmless enough, nothing even close to those Qassam missile-like rockets being sold illegally in the US. But the noise they make is still disturbing, even frightening, to the disproportionately large population of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers in Israel — both soldiers and civilians in border communities. Less than three weeks before the joyous holiday, a protest movement has begun on the Israeli social networks, demanding attention to the emotional damage suffered by individuals who have been traumatized by one of Israel’s numerous terrorizing incidents.

Dr. Shimon Burstein, a psychiatric intern at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, published a post describing the lethal effect of the seemingly harmless firecrackers, which increase immeasurably the anxiety levels of PTSD patients: “The Purim firecrackers, the holiday’s child play, are a real nightmare for post-trauma sufferers,” he wrote. “The sounds of explosion bring back images we don’t wish to describe, smells we don’t wish to smell again; they increase nervousness, tension and fear. They revisit nightmares we can’t imagine.”


According to Burstein, the days right before and after Purim are marked by increased traffic in psychiatric ERs in Israel: “Some are heroes who paid with their mental health for our security and remained scarred and damaged, but invisibly so; some are civilians whose lives have been torn up in an instant following an attack, a mortar shell, a road accident. They are all posttraumatic stress disorder victims whose life’s routine will never again be as it used to be — and they all hate Purim, the happy holiday. The costumes and mishlo’ach manot (food gifts) do not dim the nightmare.”

Dr. Burstein concluded by asking parents to teach their children to avoid using firecrackers, saying, “these people have earnestly earned the right to this small effort on your part.”

Shai Kozlowski, a PTSD sufferer who lives near the Gaza border, welcomed the effort, and told NRG, “Anything, even a slammed door, takes us back to the battle scene — especially those firecrackers. As a result, we pay a price as a family on the holidays. Last Independence Day, for instance, I had to stay home because of the fireworks. The path to change is still long, but we’re dealing with it, and moving on.”

Kozlowski, who heads an initiative offering mobile home tours in nature for PTSD patients, related that on one Purim day, a relative pointed a toy gun at him, causing a severe PTSD reaction on his part.


Previous articlee-Edition: March 4, 2016
Next articleShimon Peres Finally Gets to Host Supermodel Naomi Campbell
JNi.Media provides editors and publishers with high quality Jewish-focused content for their publications.