It is hard to believe it’s been a year since our world got turned upside down, but that did not hold back the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates from creating a fulfilling Purim holiday.  To get in the Purim mindset, Rabbi Lerner once again captivated the community with his fascinating pre-Purim shiur titled “Esther’s Legacy: Popularity and Power.” There was a lively discussion about leadership and popularity. What does it mean that Mordechai was liked by most? Should good leaders strive to be popular?  Rabbi Lerner seems have both, as he has led the community through this difficult year and has clearly earned a good measure of popularity, as we congratulate him on being unanimously instated in Jamaica Estates for years to come.

One of the hallmarks of YIJE is tzedakah, and the Purim festivities tie that in too.  YIJE Family Mitzvah Morning was established by Rabbi Shlomo and Karen Hochberg to help teach children the importance and joy of caring for our neighbors.  This month, in honor of Kenley Schreiber’s Bat Mitzvah, YIJE focused on our neighbors at the Margaret Tietz Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.  Beautifully decorated mishloach manoat boxes were created by families young and old, and filled with treats. The kids personalized some Purim decorations, too! 

For the fourth year running, Young Israel of Jamaica Estates was proud to host the students of The Graduate Program in Advanced Talmud (GPATS) of Yeshiva University for a monthly lecture series. The monthly lectures, sponsored by Judy & Zev Berman and Jane & Martin Shulman, provide a showcase for the women of GPATS to prepare and deliver insightful shiurim on a variety of topical issues. Turnout for the monthly Zoom lectures has been impressive.  Michal Schonbrun, in her lecture about Mikrah Megillah, spoke about the essence of the mitzvah of reading the Megillah and how it compares to reading the Torah on Shabbat. Her source sheets and a recording are available on the YIJE website at

Pre-Purim adult education continued with an incredibly unique opportunity to tour the British Museum’s Persian artifacts with Rabbi Dr. Zarum, Dean of the London School of Jewish Studies. His enthusiasm for the archeological proof of the stories in Megillat Esther and the Book of Ezra was palpable. He brought the audience into the British Museum and showed us Cyrus’ Cylinder, which is often credited as the first charter of human rights. Rabbi Dr. Zarum wove ancient Greek sources and matched them with the archeological discoveries as proof of our rabbinic texts.  Attendees learned about the politics behind the Purim story and gained insight to the excesses and intrigue from that time period.  The program was sponsored by the Appel, Burstein, Davidson, Hertan, and Riback families.

Each year, YIJE Sisterhood undertakes a Michloach Manot fundraising effort to benefit their dynamic Youth Department, and this year was no different. Their “Shabbat party to-go” mishloach manoat celebrated how much we have gone through and accomplished together as a community this year.  Members were also given the opportunity to donate to Tomchei Shabbos and send Mishloach Manot to our chaylim in Israel.

Putting those funds to good use, COVID did not stop the fun of Purim for our children of Jamaica Estates.  Having to pivot away from the from the traditional Purim carnival chagigah, YIJE Youth Director Zach Herskowitz and his staff went into overdrive to produce meaningful and fun activities while complying with the shul’s strict COVID protocols. Topsy Turvy youth groups on Shabbat afternoon was the precursor to a Sunday morning of fun, when the children were treated to “A Purim Like Never Before” production.  This program included a Purim Pandemania game show, Purim power projects, and of course a costume contest with prizes and raffles. All the children left with smiles under their masks and mishloach manoat in their hands.

Next stop… Pesach!