There is a sweetness like no other when people who have been friends for more than sixty years have a chance to get together for a couple of hours and just schmooze and catch up on life.
I recently did just that.
I was in Israel for my husband’s first yahrzeit in December. My friend Sandy arrived a week later for a short stay and that was the perfect opportunity to get together with Libby, who lives in Israel.
We met at a café in Jerusalem one morning and sat enjoying good food, and even better friendship, for about five hours.
Fortunately for us, it was one of those cafes that invite customers to stay as long as they like.
Libby Goldberg (all surnames here are maiden names) and I were born one month apart. Our parents were good friends from the Young Israel and we were wheeled together in our baby carriages on the boardwalk of Brighton Beach. I wonder if our mothers had any idea back then that they were setting in motion an everlasting friendship.
I met Sandy Singer when all of us started first grade at Bais Yaakov of Brighton Beach. After a few weeks my mother transferred me to another school, but by sixth grade I was back and the friendship that started then between the three of us has lasted all these years. My mother had a name for that. She called it a lifelong friendship. And so it is.
We have been there for each other in happy times and in sad ones. We have joined in each other’s simchas and comforted each other in times of sorrow. And then there were all the times in between.
Our old group also included Talya Cohen, who lives in Israel but was on a business trip out of the country at the time, and Lorraine Schwartz, who missed our little reunion by a couple of months.
There is so much to be said for having shared memories of long ago. It isn’t often that all three of us are in the same country at the same time, so when it does happen we try to grab the opportunity to get together.
Having such a good time with these lifetime friends made me stop and think about what makes a friendship so solid that it can last decades, especially when our chances to see each other are few and far between.
Perhaps it is having a shared past history.
Perhaps it is knowing some of each other’s vulnerabilities.
Perhaps it is always remembering everyone’s birthday.
Perhaps it is remembering each other’s parents and grandparents and sisters and brothers when so many of our newer friendships never got to know them at all.
Perhaps it is all of these things – plus a shared commitment to the same Torah values. In addition, we agree on so many critical issues of the day. We also all share a strong desire to live in Israel, though only Libby and Talya presently do.
Whatever accounts for it, I am very grateful for the gift of true, lifelong friendships and the occasional opportunities for us to meet and sit together for hours and just pick up where we left off.
What does it matter if our hair is gray now? Or if not all our teeth are our own? Or if aches and pains surface from time to time? We all still feel like those young girls of long ago. And when we look at each other, that is whom we see.
Can anyone say it isn’t so? And just maybe it is the very act of getting together whenever we can that keeps us feeling young. May it continue for many years to come.
Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.