Dear Friends of the Lakewood, NJ, community,
For Purim night, I will be giving tzedakah checks at our shul, Kollel Ner Avrohom, Inc. (KNA) on the corner of Case Road and Arbutus Dr. Here are the details: 1. Checks will be written as $25 per person with a maximum of $250 per group.
2. There will be six professional security guards to supervise KNA activities on Purim night.
3. There will be live music and food at KNA. All activities will start at 9:30 PM. Checks will end at 1 AM but dancing can continue until 2 AM.
4. There will be a member of our Kehila dispensing alcohol with a security guard supervising that function. No alcohol will be given to minors. No alcohol will be given to adults who appear overtly intoxicated.
5. The Ezras Noshim will be open with security guards to prevent any men from going to the second floor where the women will be.
6. There will be a second reading of the Megilla for women in the basement at 8:45 PM. After that, women should either exit the shul or go to the second floor to watch the dancing.
7. I will not be discussing tzedakah with anyone on Purim.
Those collecting tzedakah will have to fill out a very short form at the shul’s men’s entrance then proceed to the Bais Medrash for food and dancing, the checks will be filled out by staff, and the checks will then be sent to the KNA Bais Medrash to be distributed while people dance. I will be in the Bais Medrash dancing.
On Purim day, I will not be receiving tzedakah collectors. I want you to know that I feel very badly about this and I feel very conflicted over it.
For many years, I have pushed myself beyond exhaustion giving tzedakah on Purim. Over most of the last 10 years or so, on Purim afternoon, I collapsed with severe exhaustion.
For example, a few years ago, a friend of mine came to my home and found me lying on my couch on Purim afternoon, around 3 PM, with my limp arm hanging on the floor. He laughed and said “I see that someone started drinking early”. I told him that I had not consumed even one drop of alcohol.
By Purim afternoon, I am typically so fatigued that I literally, truly, can’t move my arms or legs. The fatigue has been painful. I mean this literally. I have been in pain from the level of fatigue. I have not attended any Purim parties. I have not attended any large Purim seudas. I have not gone with my sons to their Rebbes. I have not been able to visit with most friends and relatives. I have been a “tzedakah machine”, fending off pressing crowds, then I have collapsed Purim afternoon which ended my Purim activities for that year.
Last year for Purim, due to the stress in my life, I did not receive tzedakah collectors. I had a very new and unique experience (for me). I enjoyed Purim. I was asking friends if this is what happens for other people on Purim. I actually enjoyed myself. Instead of being a check-factory, I had an enjoyable time and I did not collapse on Purim afternoon. I did not deal with crowds of people pressing me. I did not deal with attempting to distribute one check every minute over a 10 hour period. I actually enjoyed Purim. I also saw what happens on Purim around Lakewood whereas I had only seen the inside of a few rooms of my home for many years of Purim before that.
Therefore, this year, I am going to try to strike a balance between a highly organized and supervised check-writing Purim night and then enjoy Purim day with my family, relatives, and friends. Part of me feels very badly about this, like I am letting down the Kehila, but there is only so much that I can do. I beg for your understanding and your forgiveness.
I wish you a Freilechin Purim.
Kasriel Roberts (a.k.a. Rich Roberts; Richard H. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D.; Dr. Roberts).