The students of Yeshivas Lubavitch in Singleton Road, Salford, this year brought Purim to more people than ever before.
The Megillah was read 19 times every hour, on the hour at nearby Beis Menachem.
And hundreds of traditional Purim gifts mishloach manos were handed out in care homes, hospitals, schools and private homes.
“The operation, which involved 45 yeshiva boys and other volunteers, ran like a well-oiled machine,” said 20-year-old bocher Eli Nochum Block, who acted as Control Tower dispatcher.
“We handled hundreds of calls on our special Purim hotline, sending boys to read the megillah wherever needed.”
Eli Nochum, whose home is in San Antonio, Texas, added: “We received many calls from people who were housebound or too ill to go to shul to hear the megillah.
“And there were at least a dozen calls from women who had recently given birth and were unable to leave their homes. In every case we arranged a megillah reading for them.”
In all, 30 megillahs were used many of them borrowed from members of the community.
Yeshiva student Berel Paltiel, 21, of Port Washington, New York, was the “On the Hour” man, ensuring that the telling of the Purim story every 60 minutes ran like clockwork.
“The megillah was read hourly at Beis Menachem in Park Lane, Salford, from 7pm until 1am,” he said.
“Then the next day we began at 7am, with the final reading at 6pm.”
Crowds came from all sections of the community from ultra-Orthodox to completely secular.
“Many of the readings attracted 100 or more people,” said Berel. “In all, well over 1,300 heard the megillah there.
“They ranged from small children to teenagers and adults and many were dressed in Purim outfits. “We even put on a special entertainment program for the young ones.”
Yeshiva student Mendy Mishulovin’s role was to help out wherever needed.
“I read the megillah at 1 o’clock on Sunday morning,” said Mendy, whose hometown is Los Angeles. “Then at 2am I learned I was to read it again five hours later. So there wasn’t much time for sleep that night!”
There wasn’t a moment to relax either as Purim day unfolded.
“I went wherever the Control Tower dispatcher sent me,” explained Mendy.
“It included attending family Purim parties, discussion groups with teenagers and dancing with old folks in care homes.”
But there was also one poignant and emotional visit for Mendy.
“I was sent to visit a man who was desperately ill and I took him mishloach manos,” he said.
“The look of appreciation on his face at being able to experience the Purim spirit was amazing.”
No sooner had Mendy returned to Purim HQ than he received another call from the dispatcher . . . this time to read the megillah for university students on the other side of town.
Every call for assistance was successfully answered by the Purim team, but sometimes it was a close-run thing.
Eli Nochum explained: “We received a call at 3pm requesting a megillah reading virtually right away. But all our readers were out ‘on calls’.
“The thought of letting anyone down was unthinkable, so we called on one of our ‘reserves’ a member of the community who saved the day.”
Eli Nochum also recalled one moment of sheer delight.
“One of our yeshiva boys, a French boy who speaks little English, was sent by taxi on a Purim mission to a private house,” he said.
“He discovered that the cabbie was Jewish and persuaded him to listen to the entire megillah.
“The taxi driver thanked him with tears of joy in his eyes.”