April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This year I will celebrate living in Teaneck for 18 years. My chai anniversary. We moved in on a lovely day in March. Son #1 was yet to turn 2 and son #2 was 6 weeks old. It is hard to appreciate the joy of moving into a home from a small apartment when you have not slept in over a year, but it was still very exciting. The walls were freshly painted, the carpet was clean and life was good.

When you move into a home, you also move into the community. People I had not seen since high school came over with candy and other housewarming gifts. Though there are still some people on my block whom I have yet to meet 18 years later, for the most part we were happy we chose Teaneck. Who am I kidding? I had no idea if we were happy, I just wanted son #2 to sleep through the night, and I was so fat that I could only fit into maternity clothes. The thought of going out in public made me sweat with fear.

What I also remember was how excited I was when husband #1 and I received our first bar mitzvah invitation. Our first simcha in Teaneck! People liked us (it was fleeting, but it did happen). But wait, the invitation specified that we were invited to a kiddush after davening. What did that mean? Were we supposed to get a babysitter? Who would babysit on a Shabbos afternoon? How could I leave son #2 when his favorite pastime was screaming? (And being adorable—he was always adorable, even when screaming.) We had no idea what to do. We asked the few people we knew and they said if only our names were on the invitation, that only we were invited and not our kids. What to do, what to do… In the end, we found someone to watch our babies. I was looking forward to the two hours of freedom and the food (obviously, some things never change).

We get to the kiddush and we see that everyone else brought their kids. Clearly we asked the wrong people. Over time, we learned that everyone does what they want. Some folks leave their kids outside of the room and bring them food, some folks bring all of their out-of-town relatives and feed them as well. When we made our bar mitzvahs, some people asked me what they should do with their kids. (Don’t worry, I gave them a polite answer of “Of course you can bring them,” and not “Seriously? Are you really asking me that question? Was their name on the invitation? Do you think I have nothing else to do but answer this question two days before my simcha?”) Truthfully, it was fine if people brought their kids. I had had one too many l’chaims and would not have noticed if the president of the United States showed up… and now you all know why I do not drink scotch anymore.

So the years have gone by and, thank God, we have been invited to many smachot. Yes, I am fully aware we were only invited because of husband #1, but the point is that some of these affairs have been very lavish and some very heimish. I have been able to wear the dresses that I spent too much money on for my affairs to other people’s happy occasions. All good. You can never go to too many bar mitzvahs or weddings. But a few weeks ago, I received an invitation that I never thought I would get.

Though I have many friends on Facebook, in real life they are few and far between (so surprising with my charming personality and witty sense of humor). Though, over the years, I have become pals with a lovely, friendly neighborhood dog. I will not say his name because I don’t want to embarrass him, but I love this dog. He always seems to be out walking when I am walking and he always takes the time to say hello to me and lick my hand. We get each other. I am honored to say that he invited me to his bark-mitzvah. That is right, a bark-mitzvah. I am not sure if he will be laining, but I am pretty sure I can wear pants to this event, which makes me really, really happy. I feel that I have reached the pinnacle of social climbing with this invitation and have come full circle since that first kiddush invite that I received 18 years ago.

The moral of this story? You have got to celebrate everything… Mazel tov to my friend the friendly dog. I hope you like cufflinks…

Banji Ganchrow is in the midst of breaking all of her New Year’s resolutions. Oh, well, there is always next year…

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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