Friday, March 6, 2015

Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation Celebrates A Frozen Purim - So Do The Maccabeats And The Fountainheads In Song

Janet Falk reports on the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation (RIJC) March 4 Purim celebration. From Ms. Falk;

Shushan Island is Frozen: A Purim Celebration on Roosevelt Island

Purim, a joyous and comedic holiday celebration, filled with fun and parody based on the Biblical story of Esther, was celebrated by the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation (RIJC) on Wednesday March 4th, with about 50 people participating in a full evening of activities for all ages.

Image From Judy Berdy

After a communal pizza dinner, Rabbi Leana Moritt, dressed as a nun, Sister Fruma Sarah,

Image From Judy Berdy

led the worship service; it included the reading of the Megillah, or traditional scroll, which recounts the story of the holiday, marking the survival of the Jewish people at a time of a threatened massacre. Ably assisted by Gad Levanon, Anna Levenstein, Michal Melamed and Doron Betel, her reading was interrupted by children and adults wielding groggers to blot out the recitation of the name of the man, Haman,

Image Of Mickey Rindler as Hamen By Judy Berdy

who purportedly attempted to destroy the Jews. With great humor and parody, 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 and Janet Falk, Shushan Island is Frozen placed the four principal figures of the familiar tale on an ice-cold (Roosevelt) Island. Virtually every line of the play featured a reference to catch phrases like cool cat, cold hearted and frozen assets, plus King Ahablasio lived in Iceland House, near Coach Mordechai's Ice Cream Shop.

Image of Scot Bobo As Coach Mordechai, Owner of the Local Ice Cream Shop

The audience was invited to join in a song to a very familiar melody, here called I Must Go, as Queen Esther gathered her courage to petition the King and secure the safety of the Jews. The cast featured Scot Bobo, Mickey Rindler, Charlie Schwartz and Rabbi Moritt, plus students of the RIJC Hebrew School and some of our older children.

Image of RIJC Hebrew School Children From Judy Berdy

The Purimschpiel's broad humor and cold-themed puns, plus references to Roosevelt Island affairs, drew much laughter, groans and many cheers from the audience.

Judy Berdy & The RIJC maintained its long standing tradition of making Shaloch Manos gift bags for the residents & patients of Coler Hospital; congregation donations of socks, gloves, hats, toiletries, writing materials and other little items will be distributed by Rabbi there.

The evening concluded with delicious Hamentaschen, a traditional fruit pastry treat, baked by the Levanon-Seligson family.

For more information about the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation, please visit or call Nina Lublin, RIJC President, at 212-688-0003.

UPDATE 4:50 PM - A Reader commented below:
... I find the rabbi's use of a nun's habit in this manner very offensive....
Nina Lubin, President of the RIJC replies:
Rabbi Moritt's costume for Purim, a fun & joyful holiday whose celebration that includes the telling of a story that is an important part of Jewish history and dressing up in costumes, was not, and is not, intended to offend anyone. Taking the name of a character from "Fiddler on the Roof", and wearing a costume which, by the way, has been seen by many of us at our annual Holloween parade for the 32 years I have lived here, is just one way to celebrate an important holiday.

I am sorry if Ms. Markey was disturbed by that image, but no harm was meant.


Joan Markey said...

As a Catholic, I find the rabbi's use of a nun's habit in this manner very offensive. Being so insentive as to post it on a public website is appalling. I guess it's possible that this was done in a manner that was respectful of a different faith, but I doubt it.

RooseveltIslander said...

Added reply from RIJC to your concern as update to post.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Really? I am Catholic, too, and I doubt you will find many who think it was offensive.

CheshireKitty said...

I am a Christian and am not offended; I see the use of all the costumes as analogous to dressing up for Halloween or a costume party, or Mardi Gras/carnival. It's all meant in fun. I'm glad to see this wonderful festive religious celebration taking place on RI in the midst of seemingly endless winter gloom.

Frank Farance said...

Ms. Markey, when you say "as a Catholic", could you cite the Catechism where us other would find this inappropriate? In a couple weeks, Catholics will have their day with reenactments of the Passion and the Stations Of Cross, yet you don't find that offensive, right? Nor the Christmas shows with nativity scenes and Three Kings, held in your own church, right?

My issue with your concern is the ridiculousness of today's hypersensitive and politically correct world. What is faulty in your concern is its lack of framing what is wrong, rather than your own hypersensitive tastes projected upon Catholics.

Now unless the Rabbi were speaking blasphemous words mouthed into character of a nun, which I highly doubt, it might be intellectually and spiritually refreshing to hear perspectives from other local religious leaders, even in the good fun of the Jewish holiday.

I would have though all serious Catholics had a serious interest in Jewish tradition, as Christ had.

David Enock said...

Frank, I did not think "As a Catholic, Joan Markey was worth a reply but, yours was perfect. Thanks, David E.