Reading Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther), or hearing it read, is a religious obligation on Purim, for adult women and men. However, this can present a challenge for those who cannot easily attend services in a shul (synagogue).
To address this need, Saul Singer—a resident of Kemp Mill for 19 years–started the Rose & Bernard Singer Megillah Reading Program 6 years ago to provide “house call” readings to those who cannot easily attend services. His objective, he said, “is to ensure that no Jew in our community misses out on hearing a megillah reading because of illness, infirmity, or due to some other reason that prevents him or her from getting to shul on Purim.”
In 2007, its first year, Mr. Singer made matches between about 10 readers and 15 listeners, numbers that have held relatively stable since then. Based on this year’s response so far, he predicts that the need will be greater, and he said he hopes that more readers will come forward to make certain that the demand will be met.
According to Mr. Singer, most the readers are from Kemp Mill, although there are some whom he has not met, having communicated with them only by phone. Similarly, the listeners have been overwhelmingly from Kemp Mill, and he has been able to accommodate one or two residents of other neighborhoods.
Rabbi Yaakov Bieler of Kemp Mill Synagogue and Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum of Congregation Young Israel Shomrei Emunah, both of Kemp Mill, said they have referred people to him over the years.
Mr. Singer said he dedicated the program to the memory of his parents, Bernard and Rose Singer, who died in 2006 and 2007, respectively. This program is an especially fitting tribute to his parents who, he says, gave him the megillah he still uses to read on Purim.
According to Rabbi Yaakov Bieler, “It’s truly a wonderful memorial to his parents. By naming the program in their memory, he does great honor in associating them with this great act of chesed.”
Rabbi Rosenbaum added that “It is so special when members of the community work to strengthen the community.”
Mr. Singer himself has been reading the megillah for shut-ins for over 40 years. This year, the tradition is being extended to another generation. Mr. Singer’s son Zev, a trial lawyer for New York City, after a long period of diligent preparation, will be reading the megillah for an ill senior citizen who is unable to get to synagogue. Zev Singer will be using his great-grandfather’s megillah, which has been in the family for well over 200 years.
Since 2007, Saul Singer has served as Senior Legal Ethics Counsel for the District of Columbia Bar. In that capacity, he provides confidential guidance to Bar members on difficult legal ethics issues. He also teaches Legal Ethics at American University’s Washington College of Law.
Previously, he worked for the Justice Department and several law firms, and was a solo practitioner. He also has 14 years of corporate and insurance experience as an actuary, mathematician, and manager.
He davens at Congregation Young Israel Shomrei Emunah in Kemp Mill, where he is the baal koreh at Monday and Thursday morning services.
This year, Purim starts the evening of Wednesday, March 7. Mr. Singer asks that those who can read the megillah and those who may need someone to read for them contact him at 301-593-1193 or at email@example.com.