April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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My son was chosen to give out nosh at Shabbos party this week. And by “chosen,” I think I mean “alphabetically.” I don’t think they do this on merit.

If you don’t have kids, I should explain that Shabbos party is a really big deal. It’s not every day that you get Shabbos party. It’s only about twice a week.

The other time Shabbos party comes about is at home on Shabbos afternoons, or, if Shabbos afternoon is really short, then sometimes on Motzei Shabbos. Our home Shabbos party is the one time per week that I give my kids candy without making them actively earn it. This is as opposed to the candy that I give out during the meal when my kids answer questions correctly (I have to pay them to pay attention in a school where I already pay tuition. I’m paying both sides here.) and the candy they sneak during the week when they somehow always forget to sneak the wrappers into the garbage. And the candy I have to give them for behaving at the dentist.

But Shabbos party is a great way to help your kids look forward to Shabbos. I mean yeah, sure, there’s the Shabbos seudah, where we have a lot of great foods, and some of them are just as good as Shabbos party. But that’s not a party; that’s a meal. You’re strapped to the table and you have to make polite conversation, and you have to help, and you can’t have dessert unless you finish everything on your plate, but it’s three entire courses, which is something you never have during the week.

“Who on earth can eat chicken after they’ve already eaten challah, soup and fish? I weigh 35 pounds! You think I’m interested in dessert? How come when I go to a chasunah, I’m allowed to get up between courses and dance around? A chasunah’s a party, right? What kind of party do I have to sit quietly at the table and listen to the grown-ups talk?”

Yes, a lot of the conversation does focus around the kids, but it’s mostly, “What did you learn in school?”

“Why are we talking about school? What kind of party is this?”

But one thing they have learned in school is Shabbos party. They learned about it the first week of kindergarten. Every kindergarten has “Shabbos parties,” which is as opposed to “regular parties,” where everyone brings in some kind of nosh, and unless everyone comes in with the same thing, they all go home with a bag containing an unwrapped mix of several types of nosh that do not go together, such as candy corn and popcorn, and everything tastes like everything else.

But with Shabbos party, only two kids bring in candy. In kindergarten, there’s a Shabbos Totty and a Shabbos Mommy, and they both bring candy into the marriage, which is, I guess what makes it such a good shidduch—their mutual love of candy. A lot of couples don’t have that.

My son, Gedalyah, is in Pre-1a, and for those of you who don’t live in the New York area, Pre-1a is a grade that we made up so we don’t have to teach our kids Aleph Beis and ABC in the same year, and have them write words going in random directions using a combination of Hebrew letters, English letters and numbers, like an abnormally safe computer password.

But there are no girls in the class, so according to a note Gedalyah brought home, he was chosen to be something called a “Shabbos host.” The hosts are in charge of buying the food. The guests are in charge of showing up five minutes before hadlakah and asking after Shabbos whether they should strip the beds.

But that wasn’t all the note said. Apparently, he was supposed to bring something very specific for Shabbos party—apple juice.

This was a first for me. Last year, Gedalyah could bring whatever he wanted. And as far as I know, no one ever thought to bring a drink. When it was his turn, I used to bring him to the store and let him pick something, and then I’d say, “No, pick something else,” because there’s no way I’m sending in 22 of those candy-laser-muktzah-flashlights so the teacher can spend the rest of the day not teaching. Then I’d steer him toward something cheaper. Though one time he convinced me to send in whistle lollies. I made sure to include an apology note.

But the rebbi specifically wrote that Gedalyah had to bring two bottles of apple juice. I don’t know how one kid is supposed to carry two bottles of apple juice. Two bottles of apple juice is heavier than my kid.

I was worried that Gedalyah couldn’t lift the juices, so I had him bring up both bottles from the basement, just to see if he could. He was able to do it with one bottle in each hand, but he had to keep putting them down. I figured he’d be okay once they were in a knapsack.

So I put the bottles in his knapsack, and he couldn’t get it on, because you have to first lift the knapsack behind your back with one arm, and he couldn’t do that. I had to drive him to yeshiva, get out of the van, and put it on him myself, and then watch him tumble backward for a bit before leaning forward and running, trying to keep his momentum before he fell over. I have no idea what he did when he got to the stairs.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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