From the Commie Archives (April 7, 1992; Volume 56, Issue 10) — Purim Chagiga A Smash, Raises Questions of Planning
Editor’s Note: In honor of Purim, The Commentator has reprinted the news article about the Purim Chagiga from 1992.
Over 1600 people crowded into the Beit Midrash in Tannenbaum Hall for the annual SOY Purim Chagiga. The festivities followed the Megilla reading on Purim night, beginning at 9:30 pm and continuing past 2:00 in the morning. YC and SCW students sang and danced to the music of the Neshoma Orchestra with continuing vigor throughout the night. The dancing paused only for the presentation of the annual Purim Shpiel at midnight, picking up again around 1:00 am. One of the evening’s highlights was the entrance of Rav Meir Goldvicht and Rav Dovid Lifshitz into the Beit Midrash, surrounded by over one hundred students who had followed them from Rav Meir’s apartment. The hundreds of students already in the Beit Midrash immediately surrounded Rac Meir and Rav Dovid, singing and dancing with incredible intensity (see picture, p. 1).
The Shpiel drew many laughs from skits which “Lamm”-pooned YU administrators, faculty, rabbis, and students. The skit drawing the biggest laugh was a very “moo”-ving scene in which a YC student discovers that the Stern girl he’s been set up with bears a remarkable resemblance to a cow. Donald Bixon’s uncanny imitation of Rabbi Yosef Blau, which even Rabbi Blau admitted was a “good imitation of me,” topped the evening’s impersonations. The Shpiel also included, for the first time ever, a cameo appearance by a female, when “Rabbi Lamm” (Jonathan Kroll) fielded a question from “Sweetie” SCWSC Vice President, Lisa Mayer.
The Chagiga may have been a victim of its own success, though, as many students complained that the Beit Midrash was overcrowded. Some students felt that the Chagiga should have been moved to the more spacious and better ventilated Weissberg Commons; others, however, felt the Chagiga should stay in the Beit Midrash.
Ari Mosenkis, Chairman of the Purim Chagiga, and Allen Pfeiffer, SOY Treasurer, made the final decision to keep the Chagiga in the Beit Midrash. Mosenkis explained that “there’s much more ruach in the Beis Medrash.” Additionally, Mosenkis noted that Weissberg Commons has terrible acoustics and columns which would block the view of the Shpiel for the girls. Mosenkis also feared that the Shpiel would turn into a social event if moved to Belfer. A final concern voiced by Mosenkis and Pfeiffer was that Rav Dovid Lifshitz, whose presence added much ruach, might have felt uncomfortable attending the Chagiga had it been held in Belfer.
Shea Farkas, president of SOY, felt that the Chagiga was “a great success, adding to the ruach and feelings of the day’s events.” Nevertheless, Farkas, who is also an EMT, expressed concern that the overcrowded Beit Midrash posed a serious safety hazard. Although no one was seriously injured this year, Farkas noted that in the past some people had to be brought to the hospital for injuries sustained due to the overcrowding. Regarding the suggested move to Belfer Commons, Farkas responded that “there’s a good case to be made both ways, but for next year I would recommend moving to Belfer because safety has to supersede sentimentality.”
The overcrowding was especially severe for the women, who had less space to begin with. Since YU policy is to not let students from Stern into Rubin or Morgenstern Halls on the night of the Chagiga, women who wanted to leave the Beit Midrash had to stay in the equally crowded refreshment and coat rooms or go outside in the ongoing snowstorm. Susan Schlussel, president of SCWSC, described the crowded Beit Midrash as “inbearable,” complaining that “there was no room to dance.” Schlussel hoped that the Chagiga would be moved to Belfer next year.
Faith Chudnoff, President of TAC, disagreed, saying, “I’d rather be a little crowded in the Beit Midrash than move to Belfer; it would take away from the spirit of the Chagiga.”
Rabbi Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani, explained that “we have a lot of factors to balance,” regarding the debate over whether to relocate the Chagiga to Belfer. “We don’t want to lose the atmosphere of the Beis Medrash,” said Rabbi Blau, noting that “the Beis Medrash represents the essence of the Yeshiva.” On the other hand, he admitted that if it becomes physically impossible to keep the Chagiga in the Beit Midrash a move to Belfer might be necessary. Rabbi Blau stressed that because the Chagiga is an SOY event, students themselves must make the ultimate decision regarding the crowding problem. As an alternative to moving to Belfer, Rabbi Blau offered the possibility that “it may be the time to evaluate if the women should have their own Chagiga at Stern.”