The main reason for Babka’s trip to Israel was to meet Danish. Danish did not disappoint. My dad would have loved this particular Danish, and I really hope that wherever he is, he is able to enjoy her as much as I am.
I had a lot of conversations with my dad these past few weeks. I figured that since I was the only woman in a jean skirt, I might as well be the only woman talking to herself walking the streets of Sanhedria Merchevet. I had never been to this area of Jerusalem before, and it was not what I expected. The residents all live in a beautiful bubble, surrounded by Torah and small children. And medium-sized children. And large children. The siblings all watch each other, and the babies help the smaller babies up and down the myriad of stairs. The whole enclave smells like challah and kugel before Shabbos and the roads are closed for 25 hours so no cars can enter. It is certainly something to behold.
We benched Rosh Chodesh (the special prayer for the new, upcoming month) this past Shabbos, and it was for the month of Iyar. My dad’s first yahrzeit is on the 23rd day of Iyar. One whole year. So in addition to being the only woman in synagogue who wasn’t wearing stockings and a sheitel, I was also the only woman in shul sobbing hysterically during Birkat Hachodesh. Because, as I have said before, and those of you who have been through this loss know all too well, grief hits you in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. I just figured that they thought I was crying because I left my sheitel at home. And that is all I will say about that.
Let’s go back to my “myriad of stairs” comment. Son #2 and DIL #2 live in an apartment atop 77 steps. 77 steps! I would like to tell you that I am coming home in better cardiovascular shape than I was when I left, but I am not sure that is true, due to the abundance of cheesy potatoes that I consumed at the Kinar Hotel. In any event, I had dreaded these 77 steps. But I am proud to say that I am not scared of them anymore. And my kids have trusted me to carry my Danish up and down these stairs many times over the course of my visit. The stroller stays locked up (with a bicycle lock) in the lobby. My DIL #2 and I were having a conversation about what happens when you finally make it down all those stairs, carrying Danish, and you realize that you left her blanket upstairs, or her pacifier, or her diapers, or, if you are in a real rush, her! (Just kidding about that last one.) DIL #2 shared that she weighs the importance of what she left upstairs and decides whether or not it is worth it to go back up. So I took this statement, and ran with it. Picture this — an adult board game called, “Is It Worth It?” Let’s all play a few rounds, shall we?
Let’s say that Miriam Esther has to take her twins to their doctor appointment. Her double stroller is already in the lobby, so she gets her diaper bag and fills it with bottles, diapers, diaper cream, the boys’ favorite stuffed monkeys, and Tylenol in case they need it after their shots. Miriam Esther brings little Yaakov Koppel and Avraham Yitzchak down the 83 stairs and then she realizes that she forgot the baby wipes and her kosher phone so she can call the doctor when she gets there. What should she do? If she doesn’t go back upstairs, she risks both boys having major diaper situations and with no wipes — well, we know how that ends. Back 10 spaces and recite 4 kapital of Tehillim while making a fresh batch of sprinkle cookies. I think it would be a very popular shidduch date activity. Let me know if any one of you are in the board game business!
In any event, this magical trip is closer to the end than it is to the beginning, and I just don’t want to think about. The thing about being a parent is that you raise your child, and that child, God willing, gets married, and that child and his wife are the new decision-making team, and you are just along for the ride. And sometimes that ride takes you very far away.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is looking to start a support group for grandparents who have grandchildren in Israel. Please email her at email@example.com