April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I’ve got an idea for a new reality show. I call it Three-Day Yontiff.

Three families, living under one roof, compete over preparations for a three-day yontiff, let’s say, Sukkot. One bathtub, one shower, for 12 to 20 people. Each family is given a different budget. Within that budget, they must decorate a standard 10” x 12” canvas Sukkah, buy the children new clothes, buy enough food for six four-course feasts. The food must be pleasing to the eye, with all-meat and all-dairy variations, multicultural and delicious. Points taken away for families who serve on paper. All preparations must take place during the four days following Yom Kippur.

As for selecting contestants, let’s mix it up. One rich family with lots of help, one poor family with lots of kids, maybe an Israeli family that only observes one day.

Let’s throw some wrenches into it! How about the meat delivery that doesn’t show up until the day of the holiday, and is left by the delivery man outside the garage door overnight? A freak hurricane, leaving inches of water in the basement that your entire out-of-town family is supposed to sleep in? How about the poopy diaper that needs changing just as the mother has her hands plunged elbow-deep in a vat of slimy meat, in the throes of making stuffed cabbage? Let’s not forget the bored children who bicker and leave wrappers, shoes and Wii games around the TV, although their mother needs help vacuuming, laundering, polishing, ironing, and cooking. And this is a good one; a child who announces that he has lice, just as the mother comes home from that last trip to the store! A child who gashes himself badly enough for stitches, and must be rushed to the ER, seven hours before sundown!

So many possibilities.

Other challenges: the emergency trip to Amazing Savings for more aluminum pans, only to find that there aren’t any standard-size lasagna pans left. The rainstorm that destroys one Sukkah’s exquisite, hand-crafted decorations and blows the walls out of a second one. The cleaning lady who quits the day before the holiday. The college-aged daughter who brings a friend home for the holiday, a friend who only eats Satmar Shechita meat, Cholov Yisroel milk, no gluten, and no nuts. Laughs ensue when the sleep-deprived mother has a mental breakdown from all the nonstop shopping, cooking, cleaning, mediating, scouring, soothing and serving, after surviving thirteen of these feasts in the previous two weeks.

What’s great about this show is its portability; I envision a Three-Day Yontiff Teaneck, Three-Day Yontiff Five Towns, Three-Day Yontiff LA, Three-Day Yontiff Miami Beach, Three-Day Yontiff Sephardi Style!

Who would the judges be? The in-laws, of course! That’s the beauty of this game show. No one ever wins.

What are your ideas for challenges?

By Helen Maryles Shankman

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