empty Slice of Life

Hunger At My Door

I don’t recall exactly how old I was when “the man in the car” showed up on our street, but I was...

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Before my son got married, every member of my immediate family had been born between October (several in just this month alone) and December.  With the addition of my daughter-in-law and grandson, we spread out a bit more - but not much.  So, birthday season is in full swing, with my oven working overtime to produce a steady stream of birthday cakes.  Despite the fact that everyone expects to be presented with these cakes on the Shabbos before their birthday, I continue to bake and then hide them until we bring them out.  The recipient cooperatively goes along with the show and acts surprised.  It’s part of the family tradition.  During this period, I think back to the time surrounding each of my children’s births and remember every last detail as if it were yesterday (which incidentally it was).

 We have a friend who absolutely loves visiting Israel.  I mean loves! He can’t get enough of it.  He marvels as he walks around and cries out, “Everything here is Jewish!!  The air is Jewish air!  The food is Jewish food! The national holidays are Jewish holidays! The doctors are Jewish doctors!  The hospitals are Jewish hospitals!  The grass is Jewish grass!  The stones are Jewish stones! It’s amazing!”  It truly is amazing.  Even the policemen are Jewish policemen. This phenomenon lends itself to the most interesting exchanges. 

I am very happy to say that my son finally made it home from the army last week.  It was really touch and go for a while due to quarantine and a host of other issues, and my son told me not to expect him home until this week.  But truthfully, he thought he would get home last week and was hoping to surprise me. But nothing is predictable in the army.  You never know what will happen for certain until it actually happens.

My family loves the north.  We appreciate the greenery, the waterfalls, and the cooler temperatures.  We’ve taken countless family vacations to the Golan during all seasons of the year.  When we are looking for a change, we head to the Galil, also up north.  Rarely do we venture down south, but this week my husband and I had reason to travel there, and we thoroughly enjoyed taking in the new sights.

Weather is a funny thing in Israel.  On September 1, the summer is “over.” At the end of Simchas Torah, people heartily wish each other a good winter.  The chagim have passed.  School has begun (usually). Winter is here.  Supposedly.  But I don’t know - it hasn’t felt much like winter to me, with the scorching sun and above-80-degree weather we’ve had these past few weeks.  After reciting tefilat geshem, we usually get a drop of drizzle here or there, just to let us know that our tefilot were heard.  But despite the advertisements for sweaters and warm coats now being sold, there’s not much reminiscent of winter in these parts. I always wonder who exactly is buying those coats when many are still walking around in shorts and flip flops, and people are still heading to the beach.  I would say that just looking at those ads for warm clothes is enough to make me sweat, but I’m usually sweating way before I even see the ads.  We are still using our air conditioning at home and we are not yet able keep up with our family’s demand for ice (no, we don’t have an automatic ice-maker in the door of our fridge).  Last week we started to say “V’ten tal u’matar.”  “Winter is now upon us,” people say in earnest.  Personally, I wouldn’t call it winter exactly, but it seems we may be beginning to ever so slowly turn the corner.  The days are still warm, but not brutal.  Towards evening, something that almost resembles a chill can be felt in the air, and sightings of people wearing sweaters is a distinct possibility. But winter? Not the term that comes to mind.  But then the other night came the rain! Real heavy rain! Cats and dogs. Complete with thunder and lightning - the kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night with a bang. 

Between lockdown, quarantine, and just plain corona, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time at home. I’m not complaining - I love my home. Also, the people in it.  But sometimes I get the feeling that I’m not just quarantined at home - I’m actually quarantined in my kitchen.  For years, my family has been saying that no matter what time Shabbos starts, no matter who is coming for Shabbos, I am glued to my kitchen on Friday.  But it’s not true!  I usually take a few laundry breaks outside of the kitchen.  Does that not count?  I also always aim to have a relaxing cup of coffee before Shabbos.  And even if I do that in my kitchen, I think it should count as an activity outside my kitchen.  But I typically run out of time before Shabbos and the coffee just doesn’t happen. If we go away for Shabbos and I’m off from cooking, my family members ask me what I will do with myself on Friday, as though I don’t have the capability of engaging in activities outside the kitchen. They say this as though it’s an oddity. But I’m wondering where else should I be?  Am I missing out on something of great importance?  I don’t know.  But I definitely spend a lot of time in my kitchen, and not just on Fridays.  And especially now, with several family members quarantining at home, I am beginning to wonder if life actually does exist outside my kitchen.  Besides the general food preparation in quantities of which I am no longer used to cooking, there are also other reasons I don’t seem to manage to get out that much.