The SCOOP

            The Happenings of Congregation Beth Israel
              March 2022

Why Do Jews Get Their Shpiel-on for Purim?

The 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (this year, Adar II) is upon us, and you know what that means!

We celebrate the joyous festival of Purim commemorating the survival of our people, thanks to Mordechai and Esther, as the Jews had been marked for annihilation by Haman and Ancient Persian rulers.


So how does this well-known megillah narrative translate into one of the most amusing and jovial holiday traditions, better known as the “Purim Shpiel?”


Shpiel, which actually means “play” or “skit” in Yiddish, came into “vogue” in 15th century Europe. Ashkenazi Jews celebrated Purim with silly monologues that would usually mock an aspect of the Book of Esther or with parodies of holy texts that entertained public audiences. Some of them would get so vulgar that they had to be banned!

By the early 1500s, the custom for Purim shpiels shifted to be performed in private homes during the festive Purim meal. It is believed that the custom of performing Purim spiels emerged as part of the general merriment that accompanied imbibing alcohol on this holiday (L’chaim, gulp!).

The Purim shpiel is still performed in communities and synagogues across the globe… and even at CBI, most recently in 2019, right before the pandemic started. Some shpiels are really humorous monologues; others include puppet shows performed for young kids. The spiel that parodies a Broadway musical, with scenery, costumes, song, and dance, is a personal favorite at CBI.

Whatever the format, Purim spiels are a wonderful example of Jewish continuity through a tradition begun hundreds of years ago. Something this fun is likely to help this Jewish holiday tradition persevere well into the future.

Chag Purim Sameach!

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Sometimes our congregants move. And we are here to announce such a move. Please let the Scoop team know if you have any information you'd like to share with the community.

Our dear friend Claire Schoenfeld has a new address:

Atria on the Hudson
321 North Highland Avenue #217
Ossining, NY 10562

Her new contact info is as follows:
Phone: 914-432-7376

She would love to hear from you!


Purim Prank, or are they really putting those poor gefilte fish in plastic bags?



Upcoming Events


The Rabbi Speaks


Dear friends,

As I sit down to write this, a sovereign nation is being attacked by a much larger, bully of a nation, and war has suddenly appeared on the radar screen of humanity. It is anything but a happy or merry time. We are, perhaps, at the precipice of a new world order. Only time will tell.

And yet, despite the precariousness of the times, we must compartmentalize. It’s the only way to live. Just as we had to the past two years with Covid. 

As with many things in life, life has to go on, despite all that is happening around us. It’s the only way to cope. Yes, we need to focus on the catastrophe in the world, give charity to the proper organizations to help the refugees, and try to do anything to make peace happen, including heading out to a protest or two.

But we should never use anything in the world as an excuse to ignore ourselves and our backyard.

In our case, we must still focus on building our local community, engaging in acts of local kindness, going to work, and celebrating holidays like…Purim.

Yup, here we are once again, that most wonderful and fun of Jewish holidays. And this year, unlike the past two years, we will do it in person in our sanctuary. In our own proverbial backyard. 

Interestingly, the holiday of Purim addresses tyrants like Mr. Putin and is all about the triumph of the little man over the oppressive bigger one.

Haman was such a tyrant. Let me take advantage of the times, he said, let me incur the ruler’s wrath when he is susceptible to it, let me create a false narrative to support and bolster my claims. Let me, in other words, justify evil.

Purim teaches us there is no justification for evil. Evil is evil, and good and right will always emerge on top. It might take some time, it might take Queen Esther and Mordehai to make it happen, but attacking a country just because you can and are stronger should and will never fly as long as the rest of the world is there to support freedom and liberty.

Thankfully, most of the world does support those values, and by the time this gets to you, I hope that the initial combat is over and that all sides will lay down their arms. 

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. Let us hope for a happy Purim where the world is safe and peace will reign.

We can only hope that the side of justice and liberty prevail.

I hope to see you in CBI on Purim eve, March 16, at 7:30 PM (see the flyer above).

Rabbi Abe

Knock knock. 

Who’s there? 


Vashti who? 

Vashti dishes
and I’ll give you a hamantash (or a donut)!

March Birthdays   
March Anniversaries
  • Richard Krauss
  • Stanley Small
  • Patty Rothstein
  • Lois Glanzer
  • Ken Goldberg
  • Linda Levine


  •   Angela & Abraham Sabbas     
March Yahrzeits

Paula Kleine                                  03-05 
Harry Gerber                                 03-06
george Glasser                             03-14
Claire Scharaeter                          03-16
Marvin Levy                                  03-24

Fannie Kleine                                03-25
Sigfried Rothschild                        03-27
Issac Rosenkranz                         03-28
Joseph Brass                                03-29
Lee Schoenfeld                             03-31


In Memoriam & Yahrzeits

Kevin Brandes: (in memory of Stanley Hyman)
Sondra Bernstein: (in memory of her husband, Marvin, Mother, Ruth Volin)
Alan Mantis (in memory of his wife, Adrienne, and cousin Marvin Fricklass)
Muriel Levine: (In memory of Nat Levi's sister in law, Cora Lewis Levi)
Angela & Abraham Sabbas: (in memory of parents Leon and Efthia Sabbas)
Claire Schoenfeld: (in memory of Lee Schoenfeld)
Robin & Richard Krauss
Susan Medeloff
Bruce Janvey

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Cathedral Gardens, NY 11550

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