Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween at the BYU Jerusalem Center

Halloween in the Holy Land was lots of fun. Since no one celebrates this pagan holiday here but crazy Americans, finding a pumpkin was a challenge. After some searching we found a green grocer named Bilal in the Kidron Valley who knew what we wanted (he has visited his brothers in San Francisco several times and had seen carved pumpkins). He told us to come back in a few hours and he would round some up for us. He did not disappoint.
The coloring and shape of the pumpkins were not traditional, but they were very carvable.
One of the pumpkins had seeds inside that had already sprouted.

Will wanted a scary one.
Joel wanted happy. Sarah's was a happy baby with a curl of hair.

For costumes Sarah was Artemis the Greek goddess of the hunt. She got the idea from the Percy Jackson book series about Greek gods on the loose in modern day New York City. Some of the students helped braid her hair and make the bow. Joel was a rubic cube and Will a ghost. Mom and dad made the costumes using discarded bed sheets (including the elastic trim of a bottom sheet), a box and some paper.

On Friday night we had two other Mormon families come over (the dads are both graduate students at Hebrew University). All of the other Mormon kids are consulate kids and went to a party there. The woman in charge of that party is our primary president. She tried to invite the eight non-consulate children, but it was not permitted. She did however give us a large bag of American candy she had imported for the party that made trick or treating most enjoyable--I even scored two Almond Joys from Will and Joel who have been well taught to pass them on to their dad.

At one point in the evening Will was out in the hallway with his costume on. Our nice neighbor Gayle Brown (wife of the director and good friend of Aunt JoAnn) came out of her apartment and saw a ghost. She started to exclaim: "Oh no a ghost!" Will was concerned that she really was scared so he quickly took off his ghost top while saying "It's me, it's just me, Will."
Marie made pizza and the kids decorated cookies. We also danced to the Monster Bash (via Youtube) and watched an old video of The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.
At 6:00 pm the kids treated the happy BYU students to a costume parade through the Oasis (cafeteria).

We then paraded up to the top level to show off our costumes for the nice security men. Bassam on the right has been working at the center since at least 1987. Back then he was young and single. Now he is married with five kids.
Descending to the third and fourth levels to trick or treat at the student apartments. Earlier in the day the American candy had been distributed to ten of the apartments.
Students volunteered to be at home from 6:30 -7-00 to welcome our two groups.

Later in the evening our kids (can you find them in the photo?) joined in with the BYU students in the gymnasium for their costume parade. The students (and faculty) were in Jordan from Monday-Thursday so the students only had Friday to come up with costumes. They came up with some very creative ones!

The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

Falafel ingredients.
A raspberry
Egyptian Belly dancers.


  1. I loved the costumes, very creative. Looks like it was a lot of fun.

  2. Even thought Haloween is not our favorite celebration it looks like you all made the most out of the opportunity to have some fun together. We loved the pictures, especially of the grandchildren. Many thanks.

  3. You missed a chilly Halloween here in Utah. Great work on the costumes.

  4. After this kind of blog posting for Halloween, I'm really looking forward to reading about your Jerusalem Christmas! Thanks for the smiles, and I LOVE Sarah's costume in particular. Great choice.