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Purim Celebration at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center

Ancient holiday combines frolicking and philanthropy

Brooklyn Daily
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Roughly 100 members of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center came in costume to the 81st Street and Fourth Avenue synagogue to celebrate Purim on Feb. 23. Congregation members dressed in an array of costumes and sampled traditional hamantash pastries and modern candy on one of the most joyous holidays in the Jewish calendar, which honors Queen Esther of Persia and her uncle Mordecai, who saved the ancient Hebrews from extermination.

“The event commemorated by Purim is one of victory over oppressors of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Dina Rosenberg.

The observance involved two readings of the Scroll of Esther, which tells how the Queen convinced her husband King Ahasuerus to prevent the slaughter of the Jews, featuring the talents of several of the synagogue’s young Hebrew students. The readings were leavened with a costume parade and plenty of sweets. Center President Ruth Masyr said what made the event was the sense of energy and enthusiasm in the congregation, which has grown in recent years after a long decline, in part because of families relocating from brownstone Brooklyn.

“We’re very busy here, and that’s really the good news. Bay Ridge is becoming more popular, and attracting a lot of young families, and they’re filling the place with a lot of fun and excitement, and a lot of children,” Masyr said.

Rabbi Rosenberg said another important part of the holiday — which continued through Sunday — was charity, and members of the synagogue visited with the sick and elderly in the community and brought them hot meals, acts of kindness the rabbi said she plans to repeat next Purim.

“We hope this will be a new yearly tradition,” Rabbi Rosenberg said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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