On Monday night, March 9, as the Young Israel of New Rochelle stood dark and vacant, YINR families celebrated Purim in the confines of their own homes with a virtual party hosted by Dov Katz of Krohma and OnKore Music.
On the heels of last year’s extremely popular Purim party, the YINR Department of Simcha once again turned to Katz, for a Purim 2020 silent DJ party. “They contacted me this year saying, ‘We never do things twice, but everyone loved this so much last year, that we want to do it again,’” revealed Katz.
When the quarantine was imposed and the party was canceled, Katz felt bad for the people of New Rochelle. “On Friday, I was sitting by my office, and I called Ellie Goldenberg and Mickey Nyer and I said ‘I am going to make you a Purim party!’” Katz, working with his daughter, Elisheva, decided that it would be so much more fun if they created an interactive virtual party. “We came up with a lot of things people can do together remotely and virtually.”
By Sunday morning the YINR community was invited to the virtual party and was asked to submit pictures of themselves and their families in costume and to prepare a TikTok video to their favorite Purim song.
The party also included a game of Kahoot and a video message montage from Jewish entertainers. “I was trying to think of ideas that would make the kids excited.” explained Katz.
The videos included messages from Mordechai Shapiro, Simcha Leiner, Benny Friedman, Eitan Katz, Joey Newcomb, Gad Elbaz. Uri Davidi, Shim Craimer and Shulem Lemmer. Shapiro stated, “I can’t imagine what you are going through in your homes. This whole thing should end really soon.” Freidman added, “Happy Purim, enjoy the party, we will sing together and dance together really soon, all the way to Yerushalayim.” Davidi stated, “I wanted to wish all of you a happy Purim. We are all thinking of you; you are in our hearts, all of you sitting in your homes who can’t go out and enjoy Purim the same. We are over here; we hope and daven that anyone who need a refuah sheleima will have one.” On his way to Israel, Cramer relayed, “I am on my way back to Israel to be quarantined for two weeks. Thinking of you all. Hopefully this will be over very soon and we will dance and sing together.” Lemmer stated, “Purim is a time of miracles. We are all with you; we are all thinking about you.” Leiner concluded, “I want to wish you all the best and a year of joy and happiness and next year we will dance together in the basement of Young Israel of New Rochelle with a full band and the whole community together.”
“I have never used Zoom before. The feedback we received was incredible,” Katz explained, adding, “I have been getting emails from people saying their children were miserable and they were trying to instill the Purim spirit for their families and this really did the trick where they really felt involved in something that normally is such a great communal holiday… Kids spend all year looking forward to Purim. We created a virtual community where people got to celebrate together. It was such a great experience. I was so happy to be able to facilitate that for you guys.”
“It was pretty upsetting that we had to cancel the chagigah,” stated Mickey Nyer, event co-organizer. “Dov was so understanding—even before we had to officially cancel, once he had heard what was going on in New Rochelle he said not to worry, if we need to cancel we will work something out.”
Nyer continued, “I got an urgent email to contact Dov because he had an idea. When I saw that email I got super excited and immediately thought he’s going to try to do this virtually! But what I didn’t think was that he was going to turn it into a virtual extravaganza! He and his daughter thought outside of the box for an entire weekend and came up with the most amazing program for all ages! The support came pouring in once we publicized the idea. No one could even imagine that it was going to be as spectacular as it was. Overall it was a home run!”
Co-organizer Ellie Goldenberg added, “Dov Katz saved Purim in New Rochelle! He helped us continue our annual community Purim celebration. We all watched our virtual Purim unfold into an amazing chagigah production we could never have imagined was still possible. Our children were in costumes, energized, smiling and engaged. It provided a much-needed escape and entertainment for us all.”
By Judy Berger