By COLlive reporter
The biggest event on the social calendar of Chevra Ahavas Yisroel in Crown Heights, the annual Purim party, is being toned down this year.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Rabbi Chezzi Denebeim abruptly canceled the March 15 bash after he said he experienced an “awakening” during a recent trip to Israel.
Instead of cramming up to 600 “hip congregants” into the congregation’s Albany Avenue synagogue, the celebration this Sunday ought to be a “meaningful, Torah-infused” affair, Denebeim wrote to members in a Feb. 14 email, according to the Journal.
The decision to hold a small, sit-down meal is being offered instead and “has divided Rabbi Denebeim’s followers,” reporter Sonja Sharp writes. “The synagogue has been credited with pulling many other disaffected young people back toward prayer, even as memoirs of the formerly faithful crowd best-seller lists.”
Denebeim was quoted as saying: “My whole attitude had become about making this big party and having an extremely active Facebook page and making great events and mixing the pot. In a certain way I lost sight of the real, like what are we really trying to achieve over here?”
The Journal reported that some embrace the rabbi’s more sober vision of Purim, while others said the cancellation scuttles a community might be mistaken for garden-variety Brooklyn hipsters.
“The community wants a more authentic experience,” said Yocheved Sidof, an educator and mother of four who has been involved with the shul since its inception. “For some people, Purim is a time to let loose and let your guard down, but that’s not really what Purim is about.”
Read the full article on WSJ.com