With 80,000 Israelis forced to spend the Purim holiday in isolation because of the coronavirus outbreak, OTS’s Yachad Program for Jewish Identity worked hard to make sure that Megilla readings are accessible to as many people as possible this Purim – wherever they may be.
For the fifth year in a row, the Tzohar rabbinical organization has partnered with OTS’s Yachad Program for “Megilla BaKehilla” readings of the Scroll of Esther and other Purim activities in 550 non-synagogue locations, including the community centers that Yachad coordinators work in year-round; cultural centers; parks; and even libraries. “The idea is to make sure that Israelis who do not feel comfortable in a traditional religious setting feel welcome and a part of the Purim festivities,” said Yachad director Bezalel Safra.
The public events were carefully coordinated within Health Ministry guidelines, though in light of the coronavirus outbreak, fewer participants participated in “Megilla BaKehilla” activities this year. In anticipation of this, OTS hosted a facebook live Purim reading, for people in isolation and at-risk.
“‘Megillah BaKehilla’ means, literally, ‘reading the scroll of Esther within the community,'” explained OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander. “But this year, due to the large number of people in isolation, Ohr Torah Stone hosted a live stream of the megilla reading on our Facebook page so that even individuals who feel alone could still celebrate Purim as part of the whole.”
Participants who were able to attend the “Megilla BaKehilla” events received a megilla with accompanying explanations to follow along. While in previous years, copies of the megilla were available in Hebrew and Russian, for the first time this year, Yachad printed over 2000 copies of the megilla in Amharic for native Ethiopian communities in Jerusalem, Haifa, Yokneam, Bat Yam, Yavneh, Tirat Hacarmel and Netanya.