Personal Megillah Readings Uplift Hundreds in Isolation

By reporter

Purim brings a joyful and festive air to communities, as costume-clad families stroll the sidewalks, mishloach manos are exchanged amid friendly banter and music blasts from passing cars.

But for scores of Jews quarantined in their homes in New Rochelle, NY, this year’s celebrations were expected to take on a very different feeling. No gathering in shul for a lively megillah reading, no spending the seuda in the company of extended family and friends…

All day [Erev Purim], I had this sense of dread in my stomach,” a resident shared. “Purim is my favorite holiday and how could one celebrate it inside their house with no joy whatsoever?”

And then… Rabbi Levi Groner from Chabad of Pelham showed up! “Tonight as I sat in my kitchen and Rabbi Groner and a bochur stood outside my kitchen door (of course more than 6 feet away), I had tears in my eyes as he started to read the megillah for me and my husband.”

Over 100 readings outside private homes were arranged by the director of Chabad of Westchester county, Mrs. Rochel Butman, along with Deborah Landesman and Sarra Lorbert, both of whom are very active in the Alef Bet Preschool.

With the assistance of dozens of bochurim from Rabbi Zalman Heller‘s yeshiva in nearby Hastings, and other rabbis who brought the project to fruition, an incredible amount of joy was brought to those in isolation. In response to their efforts, Chabad of Westchester received a tremendous outpouring of gratitude.

“I have never cried during the opening brachos of Megillas Esther before,” shared Gary Berger online. “Overwhelmed with swirling emotions, we are eternally grateful to Chabad of Westchester for pulling off the miracle of having individual readings on over 100 patios and lawns across New Rochelle.”

A grateful individual texted Chabad: “The appreciation people have for the Megillah readings is beyond. The fact that it happened and how people felt while they were listening. So much work to coordinate and so little time to do it. Thank you a ton.”

Jews weren’t the only ones touched. A community member messaged: “Deborah, Sarra and Rochel…we just received a call from our Irish Catholic neighbors. They called to tell us how inspired they were last night by the Chabad boys. They could hear it from their window at 11:30 pm!”

The enthusiastic bochurim weren’t satisfied with reading on people’s porches – they also stopped passersby!

“These Chabad boys are amazing!” a New Rochelle resident shared with Butman. “They stopped some people on our street, who they thought were Jewish, unaffiliated, and offered to read to them. They said yes!”

In one location, a group of bochurim even gathered to daven Mincha so a Jew in quarantine could join a minyan.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this crazy Purim a little bit better!” a grateful beneficiary shared with Mrs Butman. “We will never forget this chessed you have done for the entire community.”

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