Posted by: chnightlife | February 24, 2010


Purim @ Nightlife!

By Chanah Poltorak

Walking up the Avenue to Nightlife in Indian head-dress and Megillah in hand, I knew that Purim had officially begun. Sort of.

Leaving Nightlife a good many hours later, I didn’t only know that it was Purim; I felt it. And with rhythms still in my head, muscles aching from dancing and newly deepened friendships; I’ll have this to hold on to until next year – at Nightlife in Yerushalayim, of course.

At the event’s start, at least fifty young women filled the room, and they kept on coming. Costumes represented the fashions of a smattering of nationalities and every decade of the twentieth century at least. The program featured an exclusive Megillah laining by Rabbi Yehuda Dukes, a lavish dinner and funky cocktails – masterfully mixed – and, the highlight, “Open Mic Night”, a talent show featuring the singers, musician, poets and comics among us.

Watching the performances, we weren’t just an audience; we were cheering, singing, swaying and laughing along, hour after entertaining hour. What I discovered as the performers took their turns was that I don’t have to go far to find incredible talent, creativity and inspiration! Taking my place behind the keyboard to give my own hobby a try, I had a different kind of thrill – the uniquely moving experience of being able to play a piece that means so much to me with a crowd, by then a hundred strong, singing along.

That’s one of the things Nightlife does so well:  bringing girls together to relax, let go, and connect in new ways. A Nightlife tradition, “Open Mic Night” is a rare opportunity for Nightlife goers – young women who live in Crown Heights, whether as in- or out-of-towners, and spend their days and lives in a variety of ways – to open up and share.

Now well into its third year, Nightlife features weekly events and regular farbrengens. Its most recent programming included:  Kabbalah And The Zodiac of The Jewish Months with Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson; Are You A Dreamer?  – a discussion on dreams in Torah and today, led by Mrs. Freidy Yanover; Mrs. Nechama Eilfort farbrenging on Chof Bais Shvat about Shlichus, life and where the two overlap; Will The Real Shadchan Please Stand Up? – a session with Mrs. Esther Twerski on the spiritual dimension of shidduchim; a series of health and wellness workshops and more.

Amazingly, Nightlife is volunteer-run and community supported. Founded by Moshe Rubashkin, Nightlife is spearheaded by Rochel Leah Shapiro and runs on the dedication of its appreciative attendees who help organize, advertise, and pitch in wherever needed. The Rubashkin residence is home to the “Nightlife Lounge,” as it’s fondly known, where events are graciously hosted in comfort and style. Every event includes delicious dinner and refreshments, all donated by generous Crown Heights businesses, and its special programs are sponsored by community members who care.

To me, the most memorable part of the evening took place when it seemed that it was about to end. The stage was cleared, the chairs put away – and the dancing began! Well after midnight, in circles or solo, with close friends and acquaintances who had only just met in one room, we danced like you can only dance at Nightlife. The energy and exuberance made it clear that the spirit of Purim had come out of the Megillah and became as real as the dance floor beneath us and the hands we were holding.

When some weary souls were beginning to head toward the door, a surprise announcement turned them right around. Word had it that Lipa Shmeltzer, on his way from performing in Oholei Torah, was about to arrive.

Sure enough, it was Lipa, in feathers and face paint, who soon came down the stairs. In his trademark style, he improvised a song for the occasion, before making a l’chaim and making his way.

The lesson? Stick around when you’re at Nightlife. This Purim, I’m glad that I did.


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