A milestone at the North Shore Hebrew Academy (NSHA) Middle School in Great Neck will be reached when 18 eighth-graders and four alumni, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, will chant Megillat Esther for their schoolmates, faculty, and families on Purim Day, Thursday, March 21.
Over the past 18 years, over 300 students at the Academy have been instructed by Dr. Paul Brody, a dermatologist by profession. (In one photo, he is the second from left, middle row, holding a Megillah case; in the other photo he is wearing the tallis of his zayde, who convinced him to learn how to read the “gantze Megillah,” surrounded by his students.)
This unique program, introduced by Dr. Brody, has become part of NSHA’s curriculum, enabling students to read the Megillah at various synagogues, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes for those unable to attend public readings. Head of School Rabbi Jeffrey Kobrin (back row, at far right) and Middle School Principal Rabbi Adam Acobas (not shown), who makes the initial recording for the Sephardic students, facilitate the students’ hectic schedules to enable adequate review time with Dr. Brody. The students have achieved a distinctive accomplishment, joining a small, qualified group who possess the knowledge to publicly chant the Megillah. Dr. Brody’s Megillah, from which the boys will read, was presented to him and his wife by the renowned Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman, shlita (known as the “Disco Rabbi”), of Migdal Ohr institutions, for their dedication in helping underprivileged Israeli children.
Dr. Brody, who has read the Megillah for more than 45 years, first leined it in 1973 at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hill (YIKGH), and read it there and at Kehillas Aderes Eliyahu (Rabbi Teitz’s shul) until 1993, when he and his family moved to Great Neck, where he has read Megillat Esther at the Great Neck Synagogue (GNS) since. Dr. Brody chanted the Megillah at the Great Synagogue in Leningrad in 1985, despite great peril, where the gabbaim (sextons) were actually members of the KGB! “Better read than dead!”