Twenty-six Middle School students of Great Neck’s North Shore Hebrew Academy (NSHA) - both Ashkenazic and Sephardic - joined together on Purim Day, to chant the “Gantze Megillah,” in a program initiated in 2001 by Dr. Paul Brody, a local dermatologist. “Dr. Paul Brody Megillah Readers Program,” as the initiative is now known, began upon the doctor's retirement as course instructor last year. Cantor Yitzy Spinner of the Great Neck Synagogue, assisted by Shmuel Bitton, instructed the students this year. Each student read from the beautiful megillah that was purchased by the NSHA one year ago to be used by all student readers on Purim Day festivities.
In 2001, Dr. Brody observed that no young people knew how to read the megillah, and instituted a program at the NSHA Middle School, eventually instructing approximately 400 seventh- and eighth-graders, over 20 years, who have chanted Megillat Esther in a unique student-led service for their schoolmates, faculty, and families, on Purim Day - even if Purim landed on a Sunday! Only Covid-19, in 2021, stalled this unique yeshivah program. The Middle School students are instructed in the fine art of cantillation and the meticulous notes and melody of chanting the megillah. The Megillah Readers Program has served as a paradigm for other yeshivahs and day schools. Several of Dr. Brody's students have lained the entire megillah by themselves, or shared the reading with one or two other alumni, at various shuls, nursing homes, and private individuals' homes, especially helpful during the pandemic.
In 1973, at Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, then under the helm of Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l, Dr. Brody first began laining megillah, embarking on a 51-year strong career, including 29 years at the Great Neck Synagogue. In 1985, while smuggling Judaica to Jewish "refuseniks," Dr. Brody read the megillah illegally at the Great Synagogue of Leningrad, at great peril, as it was rumored that the gabboim were affiliated with the KGB. "Better Re(a)d than Dead," he figured!
A few months ago, on June 15, 2022, a detailed Proclamation issued by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman declared the day as “Dr. Paul Brody Megillah Readers Day," in "fitting recognition and heartfelt appreciation for the dedicated service" of the doctor to the residents of Nassau County. A subsequent Proclamation was issued by NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to Dr. Brody, lauding him for his major accomplishments and “outstanding service.”