Ta'anit Esther with Hadar 2021
Ta'anit Esther with Hadar 2021

Join us (virtually) on the Fast of Esther for a day of learning, prayer, service, and ritual.

Thursday, February 25 | 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM Eastern


Purim marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives, bringing to mind the words of Megillat Esther, “Venahafoch Hu” - “and it was turned upside down.” On the day before Purim, the Fast of Esther offers an opportunity to reflect, pray, and commemorate this moment.

The fast marks a time when the Jewish people faced imminent danger by fasting, praying, and preparing for Esther to change their fates. One year since this pandemic began, we still have much to do together. We will mark the lives lost, ask for healing of the sick, and hope that in the coming year, the world will once again take a sharp turn - this time towards good.




Co-Sponsors (in formation):

  • Afikomen Judaica
  • Asiyah Jewish Community
  • Berkshire Minyan
  • Beth El Synagogue
  • B'nai Jeshurun
  • Brandeis Hillel
  • Cambridge Minyan
  • Camp Ramah Day Camp in Nyack
  • Community Synagogue of Rye
  • Congregation Agudat Achim
  • Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
  • Congregation Beth Elohim
  • Congregation Beth Israel
  • Congregation Beth Shalom
  • Congregation Mishkan Tefila
  • Congregation Shaare Zedek
  • DC Minyan
  • Eitz Chayim
  • Fort Tryon Jewish Center
  • Jewish Collaborative of Orange County
  • Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City
  • Kane Street Synagogue
  • Kavana
  • Kehilat Hadar
  • Lab/Shul
  • Moishe House Somerville
  • Mount Zion Temple
  • Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue
  • Orangetown Jewish Center
  • Pelham Jewish Center
  • Romemu
  • SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All
  • Shir Tikvah
  • Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael
  • Temple B'nai Brith of Somerville
  • Temple Israel Center
  • Temple Ohabei Shalom
  • Tremont Street Shul
  • Washington Square Minyan
  • Westchester Jewish Council

Schedule of Events:


11:00-11:50 AM

• Session 1: Above and Beyond: Musical and Textual Reinterpretations of Kaddish with Joey Weisenberg and Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

Join Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and Joey Weisenberg as we dive into the Kaddish from textual and musical perspectives. We will concentrate on the phrase “l'eila min kol birchata v'shirata tushb'chata v'nechemata” - “Though You are above all forms of blessing, song, praise, and comfort” and ask the question: What does it mean that God is above all comfort? Learn a new perspective and a new melody for this timeless prayer.

12:00-12:50 PM

• Session 2: Permission to Rejoice in the Midst of Suffering with Rabbi Aviva Richman

Purim is a holiday of joy - but is it really possible to rejoice when we're surrounded by loss, uncertainty and fear? What is an authentic way to access the joy of Purim coming out of a year like this? During this session, we will explore rabbinic traditions that address the complexity of joy head-on, starting from our first moments as a people crossing the sea to the emotional roller coaster of the Purim story.

1:00-1:30 PM

• Mincha

If weather and other conditions permit, we will livestream an in-person, socially distanced Mincha service. Otherwise, we will offer a guiding reflection and make time for Mincha independently.

1:45-2:30 PM

• Session 3: COVID-19 and Incarcerated Populations: An interview with Rabbi Gabriel Kretzmer Seed, NYC-based prison chaplain. Moderated by Yitzhak Bronstein, Director of the Maimonides Moot Court Competition

The COVID-19 pandemic has been uniquely challenging for incarcerated populations and communities. Gain a glimpse into what Jewish life is typically like for people who are incarcerated and learn about how these lives have been impacted by COVID-19.

We’ll hear from Rabbi Gabriel Kretzmer-Seed and then have an opportunity for action as we take some time to process our experience and write / draw / sing personal messages, words of Torah, and/or niggunim that will be delivered to Jewish inmates.

2:40-3:40 PM

*Due to unforeseen circumstances, we've had to change this slot.

• Session 4: Children of Believers with Rabbi Avi Strausberg

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, often known as the Eish Kodesh, wrote from the Warsaw Ghetto during 1939-1942 during times of immense darkness and horror. His drashot offers us a window into what it means to be a person of faith in times of crisis and uncertainty. In this session, we'll learn two drashot of the Eish Kodesh that explore the nature of faith and use these as a jumping off point to reflect and articulate our own personal relationship to faith.

3:50-4:50 PM

• Session 5: a Reflective Writing Workshop Facilitated by Rabbi Avi Killip

We will use the mode of journaling to reflect, process, and maybe even learn something from this past year. Bring a favorite notebook and pen, or plan to type. Join us for this hour of quiet, personal reflection. No sharing will be required.

5:00-6:00 PM

• Session 5: Live Tehillim (Psalms) Reading

We invite you to read Tehillim with us as we commemorate both the immense loss of life of the past year and pray for healing for those in need.

6:00-6:20 PM

• Ma'ariv

6:30 PM

• Megillah: Join us for a livestreamed reading of the megillah

The megillah should be heard live and in person. For those who have no safe way of doing so, we are offering a reading over Zoom. While one may arguably be exempt from hearing the megillah altogether, it is still more appropriate to hear the megillah remotely by technological means rather than not to hear it at all. Please be sure to connect to the Zoom meeting through phone audio to ensure an uninterrupted, unbuffered connection. Learn more about this pressing halakhic question here.