Baltimore, MD - March 2, 2017- Although Baltimore can boast that it has more scheduled Megilla lainings than most cities--in great part because of its high Washington, DC employee commuter population, in addition to uncontrollable life circumstances--not everyone who would like to hear Megilla can be accommodated by its bustling schedule. Enter The Megilla Connection.

Rabbi Moshe Juravel, a longtime rebbe at Torah Institute and a veteran ba’al korei, founded The Megilla Connection soon after moving to Baltimore in 1974. Since then, he and his numerous volunteers have ensured that anyone who is unable to attend a Megilla laining, will not be deprived of one.

The most times Rabbi Juravel has lained in one Purim—day and night--is eighteen times. “On the average, it is fifteen times; it’s nearly impossible to do more than that, not because of reading the words, but because you have to get from one place to another other to lain,” explains Rabbi Juravel.

He has personally lained in such venues as hospitals, drug rehab facilities, workplaces, and geriatric centers—for cholim, for the homebound and those too weak to go out, and phobics, among others. In 1986, he even lained for a busload of people on the way home from Rav Moshe Feinstein’s, z’l, levaya. And, last Purim, when six travelers were detained at BWI, due to a snowstorm in Denver, he made a 1:30 a.m. laining for them at his home.

Custom-tailoring his laining for his audience is par for the course for Rabbi Juravel. He once lained for someone who was barely literate in Hebrew; he wanted to hear every word. It took him an hour and a half to lain. In another instance, someone told him he had to be in the hospital in 25 minutes, and asked him if he has an 18-minute laining. For those of German descent, when he gets up to “Vayislu es Haman”, he sings the age-old Yekkish tune which is also sung at Yekkish Sheva Brachos.

Laining has been in the Juravel family for generations. “My Zaida lained, my father lained, I lain, and my children lain. We all lain. I have no children in Baltimore; my sons and sons-in-law lain where they live.”

Rabbi Juravel cannot give enough great credit to his wife, Shulamis, for all she does to help him in his passionate endeavor.

“My wife has a big portion of this mitzva,” notes Rabbi Juravel. “She takes care of all of the other mitzvos of Purim for our family, in addition to answering the phone and making connections between lainers and listeners throughout Purim.”

“Our Purim revolves around Megilla laining,” says Mrs. Shulamis Juravel who, goodhumoredly compares herself to a Hatazlah dispatcher, describing how she fields calls for her husband, Rabbi Moshe Juravel, and catches him on his cell to tell him where to go next. “It was paskened for my husband that he is patur from all the mitzvos of Purim--except for Megilla laining—although he does do them. I take care of our mishloach manos; he comes flying into the house about five minutes before shekiya.

“One year, when I had to be out of town, at my daughter’s in Detroit, we even had all the incoming calls forwarded to our daughter in Lakewood,” continues Mrs. Juravel. “It’s a family affair!”

After laining Megilla on the average of 15 times, throughout Purim, for 43 years, Rabbi Juravel has his share of fascinating stories.

“Anything that pays money, I give away; I’m allergic,” jokes Rabbi Juravel. “I also give away any geshmaka one; I save myself the interesting ones.” These are just some of his interesting cases.

Just when Rabbi Juravel thought he would experience his own Purim miracle, last year—i.e., be able to go home and take a break between lainings—he received a call from his wife. He had just lained for someone in a locked-down unit in Shepherd Pratt when the request came in from a couple who just had a baby boy at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC); they were just a block away from where he was.

“I lained for the one-hour-old baby, together with his parents,” recalls Rabbi Juravel, “and I told them I reserve the right to teach their son how to lain Megilla when he’s older. Had I gone home, obviously, there was no way I could have gone back; it would have been too late.”

 “Once, I was asked to lain for a man who had a heart attack,” remembers Rabbi Juravel. “He had just arrived at Sinai. I asked him, ‘Are you aware that you just had a heart attack?’ He answered, ‘I’m very aware, but I’m not laining, you are!’ I said, ‘100 percent; no problem.’”

Last year, Rabbi Juravel lained for Dr. Nathan Klein, z’l, whose last days were spent in Levindale. He was prone, because of his illness, to falling asleep. Since the clocks had already been pushed ahead, by Purim, it would make it even harder for Dr. Klein to stay up. Rabbi Yosef Berger paskened that Rabbi Juravel could lain as early as plag hamincha, before Purim, and that he should not make a bracha, because if Dr. Klein would fall asleep he would not hear every word.

“I told his son, Ari, that I would be happy to lain for his father, but only if he could be there to try to keep him awake,” said Rabbi Juravel. “I lained without a bracha and when I got up to the last perek, with about eight pasukim to go, I asked Dr. Klein if he heard every word. When he told me he did, I paskened for myself (and I was correct, I found out later). I told him to make the three brachos, and then I finished laining. Ari and I sang and danced a little. On Shushan Purim morning, Dr. Klein was nifter in his sleep. He was able to make a Shechecheyanu 24 hours before he was nifter.”

Rabbi Juravel tells another story of a woman who, years ago, called the Juravels to have someone lain for her husband who had suffered a stroke. Nobody wanted to lain for him because everyone believed he was just a vegetable at that point. His wife demanded that we lain. One year, when he was in the hospital, Rabbi Juravel couldn’t get anyone to lain for him, so he went, himself. The patient was sitting there totally unresponsive.

“I hesitated to make a bracha,” said Rabbi Juravel, “because there was nobody there to make a bracha for. He hadn’t been responsive for years. His wife said, ‘He is fully responsive; he knows everything that is going on. Don’t listen to the doctors. I’m going outside.’ I started laining; she wasn’t back yet. She showed up in Perek Gimmel. When I got up to Haman, her husband picked up his finger and banged on his chair three times with his fingernail. I almost fainted. I was davening that she should come. She showed up, she saw it happen. He was nifter six months later.”

As Rabbi Juravel emphasizes, “It’s not a one-man operation; trust me.” One of The Megilla Connection’s most active volunteers is Dr. Russell Hendel, who dedicates his entire Purim to laining for others. He can lain eight times at Sinai Hospital, alone. Most of the other lainers lain three or four times. The huge list includes: Rabbi Jonathan Marvin, Dr. Rephoel Lieder, Yehuda Lehrfield, Shmuel Davis, Yitzchak Perlmutter, Moshe Singer, Binyamin Saunders, Shlomo Noach Katz, Moshe Yaakov Cohen, Yehoshua Levine, Yehuda Novice, Yisroel Tzvi Schwartz, and Zevi Abraham. Chabad also sends lainers to The Megilla Connection.

Other volunteer lainers are Rabbi Juravel’s former Torah Institute students. He gives boys who want to prepare a free recording of the Megilla to help them; each year, many an eighth-grader lains.

“I tell boys, after their bar mitzvah, don’t waste all the learning you did for laining for just one time; it’s not hard to learn to lain Megilla,” says Rabbi Juravel, who tests six or seven teenagers annually, so they can go out and lain. “I deploy them.” 

As of this writing, Rabbi Juravel only had eleven or twelve lainings booked, but he was confident that there will be even more bookings by Purim, including last-minute ones.

“I’m waiting for the White House to call,” quips Rabbi Juravel.

If you are able to lain or drive someone who can lain. Or if you own a Megilla that is available for use on Purim, please call The Megilla Connection, at 410-358-9215

As in years past, BJL offers a Megilla Zmanim chart  - this year with upgraded features - that enables anyone whose schedule has changed the ability in one glance to  see options from the listing of all  Megilla readings throughout the community. Check for it on Monday, Mar. 6. (If your shul or your private home reading is not listed, please email with the information to be added.)