Thursday, March 24, 2016

Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation Celebrate Purim Story Of Esther With Worship, Food, Songs And Political Parody - Make Shushan Great Again Was Theme

Janet Falk reports on the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation (RIJC) March 23 Purim celebration. From Ms. Falk;

Make Shushan Great Again: 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) with more than 50 people participating in a full evening of activities for all ages on March 23.

After a communal pizza, quiche and pasta dinner, Rabbi Leana Moritt, dressed as a chef, 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. Assisted by Gad Levanon and Michal Melamed, her reading was interrupted by children and adults wielding groggers to blot out the recitation of the name of the man who purportedly attempted to destroy the Jews. With humor and parody, the congregation joined in singing prayers and song parodies to popular music and show tunes.

Later, a Purimschpiel, or play based on this narrative, was performed. Written by Mickey Rindler and Janet Falk, Make Shushan Great Again wove aspects of the Presidential campaign into the familiar tale and featured King Obamasuerus (Noam), Donald Haman (Mickey Rindler), Senator Mordechai Sanders (Scot Bobo) and Secretary of State Esther Hillassah (Rabbi Moritt). (Esther is known as Hadassah in Hebrew.)

The audience was invited to join in a song to popular melody by Pharrell Williams, here called (Because I’m) Esther, when Secretary of State Esther gathered her courage to petition the King and secure the safety of the Jews.

The cast members included students of the RIJC Hebrew School, led by Anna Levenstein -- Anna assisted in the direction --, plus other members of the RIJC.

The Purimschpiel's broad humor and political-themed puns, plus references to Roosevelt Island affairs, drew laughter, groans and cheers from the audience, who applauded enthusiastically.

For example, Donald Haman (Mickey Rindler) and his Apprentices plot to kill the Jews

Image From Judy Berdy

Also, Secretary of State Esther Hillassah (Rabbi Leana Moritt) and Senator Mordechai Sanders (Scot Bobo) exchange emails to solve the peril for the Jews

Image From Judy Berdy

And the Cast sings (Because I’m) Esther a la Pharrell Williams

Image From Julia Chang

Judy Berdy and The RIJC maintained the long-standing tradition of making shaloch manos gift bags for the residents and patients of Coler Hospital and to the patients of the nursing facility in Harlem, where some of the former Island residents now reside. Congregation donations of socks, gloves, hats, toiletries, writing materials and other small items will be distributed to them by Rabbi Alcabes.

The evening concluded with delicious Hamentaschen, a holiday fruit pastry treat, baked by the Levanon-Seligson family, as is their annual tradition.

For more information about the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation, please visit or call 212-688-0003.
Happy Purim - Shake Your Grogger.