Once upon a time, many, many years ago, there was a land with no smart phones. A land where people could not instantly hear good or bad news. A land where no one knew what wedding you were invited to or what party you were excluded from. A land where peace and quiet of the mind and heart were always available to you.
Unfortunately, that land has changed over many, many, many years. And unfortunately, we have all been privy to the beautiful faces of the heroes who have fallen fighting for us. Every beautiful face has a name, has a story, has a family. And while our hearts are breaking, and so many have still not been returned home, we gain strength from the bravery of those who continue to defend us. We gain strength from prayer, from doing chesed, and from each other.
A friend of mine, who is not religious, was always amazed when I would tell her stories about how friends and neighbors came together to help. Many years ago, when Husband #1 had his first kidney stone on a Shabbos, we were quickly able to “deposit” each of our boys somewhere and did not even have to worry about them. This happened again with the “frankenstorm” of 2011. (I think it was 2011.) We were at a bar mitzvah in Englewood, two boys were at friends’ houses and one was with my parents. And there they stayed for a few days, until we could get to them. I know this is nothing like the unity we are experiencing now, but I am going somewhere with this.
Last weekend, I was blessed with my Strudel, her sister, and her parents coming for the weekend. They had a family simcha on the other side of town, but they still stayed with me. (God bless DIL #1) I got to hang out with my Strudel and I even brought her to an aufruf kiddish that we were invited to. (God bless the makers of cake pops.) We had a wonderful time, as we always do when we are together. Strudel got to have a playdate with our friends’ new dog. It was all lovely, thank God. After Shabbos, Husband #1 and I actually had plans, which rarely happens. I received some texts from Son #1. “Do you know where Bunny is?” “We cannot find Bunny!”
Bunny is Strudel’s other bff. (I am her first bff.) Bunny and Strudel have been through a lot together. Long story short, even though Bunny was where I told Son #1 to look, Bunny did not make it back to Far Faraway (where Strudel lives with her sister and her parents). This broke my heart. I was tempted to drive Bunny back to Far Faraway that night, to reunite Strudel with her bunny. “Bunny in Teaneck,” Strudel sobbed to her father.
The first thing I did was post a request on Facebook. That has never been successful for me. What to do, what to do? “Aha!!!” I thought. “I will go to WhatsApp for help,” I said out loud to myself, because Husband #1 can no longer hear me if he is in the other room. No, our house didn’t get bigger. Yes, Husband #1 is getting older and cannot hear as well — or is just ignoring me. That is for another column.
So I sent a WhatsApp to a group I had set up for something else. I wrote, “Does anyone know anyone going to the 5t today???” Well, this genius (me) was so focused on getting Bunny back to Far Faraway that she forgot there were people on this group who didn’t even know what 5t meant. (It means the Five Towns.) I was getting responses from Israel, Atlanta, Costa Rica — I had confused many people. But I found a ride for Bunny. Thank God. Another boymom was going out to the Island of Long to hang out with her grandchildren, and she volunteered to take Bunny right to Strudel.
Bringing Bunny to Strudel is not the same as sending bulletproof vests to soldiers. It is not the same as sending clothing and toys to families that have been forced to evacuate their homes because of horrific events. But it is the same in the sense that our community can be truly wonderful. We can come together and do incredible things. And it should always be this way — not just when things are bad.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck cannot believe that it is almost 2024. She is looking forward to the new Weight Watchers commercial that always airs right after the clock strikes midnight…