Dermatologist Paul E. Brody of Great Neck Estates is flanked by Russell and Eli Mendelson, two of more than 325 students that he has instructed over the past two decades at the Middle School of the North Shore Hebrew Academy, in the art of chanting Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther), which is read on the joyous holiday of Purim. The Mendelson brothers are among a handful of those students who have mastered the skill of chanting the “Gantze (Entire) Megillah.” Dr. Brody chanted the Megillah for the 26th year at the Great Neck Synagogue on Purim night and day, Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25 and 26 and at the Young Israel of Great Neck on Purim morning.
Russell chanted it in a simultaneous service at GNS Purim night. Eli, of Goldman Sachs, read it two years ago and the brothers have collaborated, sometimes splitting the reading.
They are the sons of Dr. Robert Mendelson, Director of Medicine of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Annie Mendelson, who is a Village of Great Neck Trustee.
In the photo, Dr. Brody—wearing the more than 100-year-old Tallit (Prayer Shawl) of his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Jacob Brown, of Blessed Memory, who convinced him that learning to chant the “Gantze Megillah” was not insurmountable is holding his Megillah Scroll, which was presented to him by a sainted Rabbi from Israel’s Northern Galilee, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman of Migdal HaEmek, in its silver case. The Mendelson’s are holding “groggers,” which are noisemakers used to drown out the name of the evil Persian Prime Minister Haman, whenever his name is read in the Megillah. In his right hand, Russell is swinging contemporary “Hamans” designed by Dr. Brody’s wife Drora—simulating the historic hanging of Haman and his 10 sons, who plotted to destroy the Jewish Nation. The unique ability to go to individuals’ homes to chant the Gantze Megillah is paramount, particularly this year during the pandemic.