Monday, February 25, 2013

Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation Celebrates Purim - Purimschpiel Adapted To Current Roosevelt Island Times

The Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation shares this report from their Purim Celebration. (photos from Judy Berdy)

Purim, a holiday marking the survival of the Jewish people at a time of a threatened massacre, was celebrated by the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation on Saturday, February 23.

After a communal dinner, Rabbi Leana Moritt

(Rabbi Moritt leads the Havdalah service, marking the end of the Sabbath day.)

led a short worship service; it included the reading of the megillah or traditional scroll, which recounts the story of the holiday. Assisted by Gad Levanon, her reading was interrupted by children and adults wielding homemade groggers

(Ethan Wagreich holds the QUIET sign, indicating the end of noisemaking to drown out the name of the villain, as Gad Levanon and Rabbi Moritt read the megillah scroll.)

and noisemakers to blot out the recitation of the name of the man who purportedly attempted to destroy the Jews. With humor and parody as guideposts, the congregation joined in singing prayers and novelty songs to popular music and show tunes.

Later, a Purimschpiel, or play based on this narrative, was performed. Written by Mickey Rindler, the plot unfolds on Shushan Island, where Rich Wagreich,

(Maya Levanon and Sheila Berger Chazin, henchmen, learn the plan for the destruction of the Jewish people from Rich Wagreich, the evil Haman, who wears the traditional three-sided hat.)

as Haman Bieber of iCornell, proposed to extend its monopoly on all digital communications, and sought the approval of the local community board and Acting King Donald Idontcareos, played by Scot Bobo. The plan did not get off the ground; instead the Acting King was impressed by the efforts of Mordechai. Played by Mickey Rindler,

(Rabbi Moritt as Esther learns that her uncle Mordechai, played by Mickey Rindler, will make a fundraising music video in his new guise as the rap star Chai to help the victims of Super Sandstorm Sandy.)

this Jewish rap star named himself Chai and taught the members of the congregation a dance, Shushan Style. They joined him in a parody of Gangnam Style,

(Mickey Rindler strikes a pose after teaching the congregation how to dance Shushan Style, to the music of Gangnam Style.)

which became a blockbuster video on iCTV and, as a fundraiser, generated millions of dollars to help the Shushan Island residents who were victims of Supersandstorm Sandy. Meanwhile, Rabbi Moritt as Esther sang So Call Me, King-y, a take-off of Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me, Maybe, in her effort to be selected by the Acting King as his Queen. By the end of the skit, the Jews were saved and also retained access to the Internet. Other cast members included Judith Berdy,

(Judith Berdy wears tram-related items; it is customary to dress in costume on Purim).

Sheila Berger Chazin, Janet Falk, Maya Levanon and Ethan Wagreich.

The Purimschpiel's broad humor, plus references to barging and other Roosevelt Island affairs, drew laughter and cheers from the audience.

The evening concluded with delicious Hamentaschen, a traditional treat; several dozen cookies were donated by Arlene Bessenoff and Nina Lublin, plus others were baked by Amber Levanon-Seligson and her daughters Maya, Dalia and Tamar.

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