The NSHA Middle School Megillah Readers Program, initiated two decades ago by Dr. Paul Brody, was named in his honor as was a recently purchased beautiful megillah, to be used by each student reader on Purim Day. The announcement was delivered by Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Kobrin, Rosh HaYeshivah and Head of School, at the Middle School graduation exercises, held in the main sanctuary of the Great Neck Synagogue this past June.
“Dr. Paul Brody Megillah Readers Day,” declared a detailed Proclamation issued by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, which was presented as a “fitting recognition and heartfelt appreciation for the dedicated service of Dr. Paul Brody to the residents of Nassau County.” Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, also issued a Proclamation lauding Dr. Brody’s accomplishment.
Dr. Brody, a dermatologist by trade, has instructed 400 or so students – both Ashkenazic and Sephardic – starting with just eight students back in 2002. This year’s group included 35 of the 39 eighth graders and 2 seventh graders.
As a result of Dr. Brody’s initiative, the entire NSHA Middle School participates in a student-led megillah reading, attended by their parents, grandparents, siblings, and faculty on Purim Day, even when the holiday falls on a Sunday. The model created can serve as a paradigm for other Jewish day schools and yeshivos.
Dr. Brody himself has leined the Megillah for 50 years, including 28 years at the Great Neck Synagogue. Beginning in 1993, at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, under the tutelage of Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l, Dr. Brody began his famed megillah-reading career. Prior, he had learned the nusach at Yeshiva University’s Cantorial Training Institute (now the famed Belz School of Jewish Music).
In 1985, while smuggling Judaica to Jewish “refuseniks,” Dr. Brody read – at great peril – the Megillah illegally at the Great Synagogue of Leningrad. The gabbaim were reputed to be KGB agents. “Better read than dead,” figured Brody.
Dr. Paul Brody shares a deep connection to Queens, having grown up and resided in Kew Gardens Hills for 40 years, prior to moving to Great Neck. His illustrious parents, Mr. Harvey and Mrs. Bea Brody z”l, were amongst the early pillars of the Orthodox Jewish community that now flourishes throughout Queens.