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Ridge Jewish Center puts new spin on Purim tale

The Brooklyn Paper
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It was the same story told in a whole new way.

The Bay Ridge Jewish Center used a multimedia presentation to tell the Purim tale at its annual bash for the holiday on March 4.

Traditionally, revelers read the Megillah” — the story of how Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai foiled the plot of a Persian king’s advisor to exterminate all the Jews in the empire. Using a projector for the first time, the center spun the tale in English and Hebrew, illustrated the story with pop-culture references, and played clips of Hebrew school students acting it out. The newfangled retelling was an effort to appeal to a wide age set, the center’s rabbi said.

“This is one of our multi-generational programs, so we got a little more high-tech this year,” said Rabbi Dina Rosenberg. “A lot of the story is very visual and action-based.”

For instance, when storytellers mention the villain, Haman, audience members are supposed to make noise to blot out his name. To build on that tradition, organizers projected a photo of “Austin Powers” character Dr. Evil every time Haman’s name was uttered, center member Ruth Masyr said.

“It was really cute,” she said. “I think more people were engaged in watching the slides and hearing the story than I’ve seen before.”

Of course, the affair was not without low-tech, traditional touches like costumes and Purim pastry hamantaschen, Rosenberg said.

The rabbi dressed as Elsa the Ice Queen from the Disney movie “Frozen,” not so much as an homage to Queen Esther, but as a way to break the ice with youngsters.

“I wanted something the kids would recognize — it was a new way to connect with the little ones,” Rosenberg said.

In a further effort to connect with the neighborhood’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities, the center is planning a “Gospel Shabbat” featuring the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir on March 13.

Gospel Shabbat at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center (405 81st St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues), March 13, 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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