News From Ramaz
... וְהַיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה נִזְכָּרִים וְנַעֲשִׂים בְּכָל-דּוֹר וָדוֹר
וימֵי הַפּוּרִים הָאֵלֶּה, לֹא יַעַבְרוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַיְּהוּדִים, וְזִכְרָם, לֹא-יָסוּף מִזַּרְעָם
And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation...
And that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews,
Nor the memorial of them shall perish from their seed. Esther 9:28
Twenty years ago, a student initiated what has become a longstanding tradition at Ramaz: reading Megillat Esther on Purim night at Lenox Hill Hospital for patients, doctors, and nurses who are on-call and visiting families. This year, the conference room, our makeshift shul, was filled to capacity and including the time for graggers to spin, our students finished reading by 7:45, hastily ate a bagel, and off to the floors they went, patients' room numbers in hand.
Rabbi Simcha Silverman, the hospital's chaplain, and our friend and Bikur Cholim advocate, provided students with an updated patient list as late in the day as possible but reminded them that they have to "Go with the flow, because without any notice things can change, and flexibility, governs this mitzvah."
Students developed a unique style of preparation, dubbed "round-robin." Readers sign-on according to the chapters they've prepared, not an easy task. Thanks to the phenomenal dedication of Senior Yoni L., Sophomores Eli A., Zachary B, Avery S., Alumni Aaron K.'13 and Simon S. '12, and Dr. Ethan Rotenberg, who knows all 10 perakim, the students were ready. Sophomores Elizabeth C. and Daniella F. were beyond remarkable. Elizabeth quickly made a WhatsApp group, and others dubbed the girls: "Communicators." They shlepped Mishaloach Manot bags and Purim reading materials in big bags, and kept messaging the boys and Dr. Rotenberg where to go next, what patient's room to visit, and where they were stationed.
Every year brings its own unexpected and memorable experiences, ones that impact our students immeasurably. Enjoy reading about this year's Purim Miracle.
It was 10:15pm and students had just left the hospital, feeling relieved, and Ms. Benel received this text from the Rabbi: The new mom who was feeding her newborn wants to know if you can come now to her room and read for her and her family. Ms. Benel looked sheepishly toward the group, and read the message aloud to them. They answered in unison, "So let's go!" Knocking softly, they entered the room.
The newborn baby boy was in his basinet, and when students were welcomed, they noted an accent. Students say shalom, and ask about the family's Purim traditions. "We are Iranian," the dad answers. Simon S. begins reading, and he's of Persian descent, and so his Sephardic trup is distinct, and clearly Persian. The dad's eyes are teary, emotions run high.
Sometime around the year 357 BCE, (3404-5) the prime minister of Persia, Haman, and his wife, plotted to kill all Jewish people in the Persian Empire. And on that night, 2,374 years later, in a room with a newborn baby of Persian descent listening, we validated the miracle of Jewish survival!
וְזִכְרָם, לֹא-יָסוּף מִזַּרְעָם
Nor the memorial of them shall perish from their seed.