This past week, we culminated the reading of Sefer Shemos, and more importantly, the two-week summative narrative of the construction of the Mishkan with the painstaking listing of every single donation. In his essay on Parshas Pekudei, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states:
We now understand what the Sanctuary represented. It was a micro-cosmos, a universe in miniature, constructed with the same precision and “wisdom” as the universe itself, a place of order as against the formlessness of the wilderness and the ever-threatening chaos of the human heart. The Sanctuary was a visible reminder of God’s presence within the camp, itself a metaphor for God’s presence within the universe as a whole.
A large and fateful idea is taking shape. The Israelites, portrayed throughout much of Exodus as ungrateful and half-hearted, have now been given the opportunity, after the sin of the golden calf, to show that they are not irredeemable. They are capable of great things. They have shown they can be creative. They have used their generosity and skill to build a mini-universe. By this symbolic act they have shown they are capable of becoming, in the potent rabbinic phrase, “God’s partners in the work of creation.”
This past Sunday, we celebrated the Prize is Right, a wonderful event that was enjoyed by all. Just as the Mishkan was built through teamwork, by asking each and every person to donate and help, preparations for our Prize is Right event were the same. A large group of parents joined together and worked as a team to help build our own little Mishkan, the school, where Torah is studied on a daily basis. We learned that it takes many people to replace the work that Mrs. Elissa Felder did for so many years, and in many ways, she created the template for all Prize is Right programs. This year’s event was successful because it involved so many people, representing a large cross-section of our community. Under the guidance of the committee, Mrs. Elisheva Bielory, Mrs. Felicia Haas, Mrs. Shoshana Lapin, Mrs. Amanda Pompili, Mrs. Tzipora Purec, Mrs. Tzippy Scheinerman, Mrs. Shani Schwartz and Mrs. Chana Faiga Twersky, many individuals created a menu, decorated the room with an Italian Purim theme, created posters, solicited gifts and so much more. Special thanks to the PHDS office staff, Mrs. Jeanne Bishop and Mrs. Mindy Schachter, for all of the support services they provided. On behalf of the Executive Committee and the General Board, I extend our heartfelt appreciation to all who assisted in making this year’s Prize is Right such a great success.
Our fundraising efforts are continuing as we prepare for Purim and reach out to our out-of-town donors. Last year, I spent Purim in Lakewood, NJ, and was, b”h, able to raise a substantial amount of money. Due to last year’s success, I have made the decision to celebrate Purim in Lakewood once again. We realize that many families customarily send mishloach manos to us; this is greatly appreciated and we recognize your desire to wish our family a happy Purim, but we kindly ask that you not send mishloach manos to us this year. After Purim, I will be traveling from New York to Eretz Yisroel to attend a family simcha and to conduct my annual seminary research and alumni reunion event for our many alumni living or attending school in Israel. I will be visiting eight different seminaries from across the spectrum, visiting alumni and investigating new schools for our current and future graduates. Special thanks to NEAT alumna, Aviva Rotbard, who is attending seminary in Israel this year, for coordinating the alumni get-together. If you have any questions in regard to seminaries, please feel free to contact me before Purim.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman