As Sukkot approaches, we cannot help but remember the times (not often) when we experienced snowflakes dropping into our soup while eating in the Sukkah. They don’t call it the North Country for nothing! Considering that this year the chag is so early we cannot imagine that the problem will exist. Instead the other recurring dilemma on a warm beautiful day or night while eating in the Sukkah was the arrival of bees!
Nina remembers her great frustration after preparing gourmet style meals for all of her guests to watch them eat either as quickly as possible so that they could get away from the bees or just run inside the house in desperation, hardly eating anything. So much for a long beautiful night of eating in the Sukkah and thoughtfully planned out epicurean feasts.
Another special memory is of our Rochester children sleeping in the sukkah no matter what the temperature—wall to wall sleeping bags lined the floor of the sukkah—some under the table and only severe rain could really stop them from retreating into the house.
Each year Chabad of Cote St. Luc for Simchat Beis Hashoeva would bring a singer to Montreal during Chol Hamoed to perform in Centennial Park, which was only three blocks from our home. Just recently the park was renamed Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park in memory of the late prime minister. The park is very large and has a lake where one can go paddle boating and which everyone uses for tashlich on Rosh Hashanah—the Sefardim lined up with their rabbonim on one side of the lake and the Ashkenazim on the other. In the middle of the park is a stage and rotunda where the concert always took place. Mordechai Ben David and Avraham Fried were some of the names that we remember having come in the evening to entertain the community.
In the midst of Centennial Park is a playground. Our daughters would frequently take their children there to play on the swings, etc. There is also a large sprinkler park. Several times our daughters would mention upon returning from the park that although there were many children in the park they became aware of the fact that they were the only mothers present watching their children. The other children present were being supervised by either a baby sitter or a nanny. It reminded us of the time that Nina took one of our grandsons to a program in his nursery at the Riverdale JCC because our daughter, his mother, was home sick. She realized that at this special program for nursery children she was the only one there that was actually related to the child in the program. The babysitters sang along with the yom tov songs.
This subject is not one that we would normally find ourselves writing about until we had an uncomfortable experience at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Teaneck Road. We sat at a table enjoying the company of several of our grandchildren and suddenly realized that there was a child screaming at the top of his lungs. We turned around to see where the commotion was coming from and watched a little boy (with red hair) sitting in his stroller while his caretaker and several other of her friends who were with their own charges were drinking their coffees and laughing and carrying on in conversation while this child was being totally ignored. After 20 minutes of screaming (I only regret that I did not take the child’s picture), we left the store. The laughing and the camaraderie continued for who knows how long. To this day we are annoyed with ourselves that we did not intervene. These had to be frum children perhaps whose parents live in the apartments close enough to walk to Dunkin’ Donuts. How crazy it is that we never seem to know what the right thing is to do.
Frequently we turn on the news at 10 on Fox and prior to the news beginning there is a message, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” We feel it is necessary to paraphrase that and ask,“Do you really know who your children are with?” We do not doubt how carefully babysitters are checked out, but perhaps it is not a bad idea to come home early one day and just appear. It will either be extremely reassuring or it will help you realize the mistake that you have made.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick