For those of you who have (fortunately!) never been within earshot of my home on erev Shabbos, allow me to unequivocally assure you that I was definitely NOT the individual who coined the acronym TGIF! On the contrary, even after four-plus decades of making Shabbos for my family, I will be the first to admit that I still find Fridays extremely challenging. Chatzos Club? Not on my radar screen. I’m happy to make it to the licht benching ‘finish line’ on time, without encountering any major mishaps (burst pipes, flat tires, appliance failures, etc.) along the way!
So it is certainly the epitome of irony that here in the Holy Land the common thinking is that “Friday is the new Sunday!” I respectfully beg to differ! To the best of my knowledge, unlike Fridays, Sundays do not include a looming deadline by which all activities must be completed… and then abruptly cease! But apparently I’m in the minority here. Which is why many people routinely schedule family outings, parties, and other events for Friday. As in erev Shabbos, aka my most challenging day of the week.
It was therefore with decidedly mixed emotions that I received the announcement and invitation from my dear cousin several weeks ago. Mazel Tov! The well-received memoir that she had published over ten years ago in English had just been translated and reprinted in Hebrew! She had undertaken that year-and-a-half long project as a labor of love, mostly to benefit her Sabra children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I was very happy for my wonderful relative/mentor/friend, and proud of this, the latest in a string of impressive accomplishments.
However, a quick perusal of the invitation accompanying her glad tidings confirmed my queasy suspicions: She was hosting a ‘book launch’ for family and friends on (you guessed it!) an upcoming erev Shabbos, from 10 a.m. – 12 noon. And to complicate matters further for Friday-challenged moi, it was scheduled to be held at her son’s lovely home, nearly an hour’s drive from my humble abode!
Talk about mixed emotions! On the one hand, I was genuinely rejoicing for her; on the other I was already experiencing some degree of anxiety regarding the less-than-ideal timing.
For all of you readers thinking, “Why can’t you just get your act together, and plan ahead for Shabbos?,” allow me to state the following in my defense: First of all, I honestly do start thinking about Shabbos early in the week; sometimes as soon as the previous motzaei Shabbos! And my married kids, seven of whom b’H live in Israel, know my mantra ad nauseum already, “Please let me know by Tuesday if you would like to join us, so that I can shop and plan ahead!”
Needless to say, “Kids will be kids” still holds true virtually every week, regardless of the fact that those ‘kids’ are all married, and many have families of their own b’H. So on the week in question, our youngest daughter reserved on schedule for Friday night, our youngest son put in a request for the leil Shabbat meal on Wednesday night, and another son woke up on Thursday afternoon to ask if his family of five could join us for lunch. Better yet, ten of my husband’s high school students asked my husband on Friday morning (yes, the Friday of the book launch!) whether they could come for seudah shlishit.
I hereby rest my case!
I managed to go back to the stores yet again to accommodate all the eleventh-hour requests, and ultimately decided that whatever could not be purchased after that we would manage to do without. However, one item on our last-minute shopping list was of the do-or-die variety, and a trip to several local stores came up empty…
Whenever we host my husband’s students for the final Shabbat meal, we routinely serve bagels, cream cheese, lox, veggies, salad, tuna, nosh, and (drumroll!) individual cups of chalav Yisrael Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert. (You may begin to see why they enjoy coming to us!)
But as we were rushing out after my husband finished teaching on Friday morning, that elusive frozen treat was still not-to-be-found in the supermarkets or candy store. We were already running late, so we had no choice but to pile into the car and head off to our cousin’s erev Shabbos gala brunch.
To make a long story short, not only did we and our ‘celebrity’ houseguests (our brother and sister-in-law, visiting from the U.S.) receive a royal welcome, our late arrival meant that we had missed all the speeches! And the beautiful guest of honor was literally glowing, belying her recent acquisition of the age of ‘gevurah.’ It was a tremendous pleasure and nachat to see dozens of our cousins after a year-plus of Covid-19 restrictions, and (best of all!) the gorgeous and delicious buffet was not only still amply-stocked, but an incredible edible delight to both the eye and the palate!
And, in what seemed at first to be a mirage brought on by the excessive heat (and perhaps wishful thinking), our host began circulating around the spacious dining room bearing a large wicker tray filled with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cups.
Both my husband and I perked up immediately and accosted him to ask where he had bought them. The bad news: They were not to be found locally; he had made a special trip to the B&J factory in Yavneh to purchase them. The good news: He had bought more than enough, and had an extra dozen or more that we could potentially buy from him! The really great news: He refused to accept payment! Before we headed home, his wife packed fifteen of them into a cooler, along with three ice packs, and happily gifted them to us!
So not only did we spend an hour or two reconnecting with three generations of beloved relatives while celebrating our cousin’s latest achievement, we also unexpectedly found the most important missing item for our Shabbos menu!
We returned home tired but exhilarated, and b’chasdei Hashem the rest of my hectic Shabbos preparations went miraculously smoothly as well. Plus our Shabbos was enhanced by the other goodies we brought home with us: autographed copies of our talented cousin’s brand new book, each bearing a loving personalized inscription, meticulously-researched printed family trees, and a neatly-typed copy of our cousin’s heart-warming speech…
Ironically, instead of being the predicted tension-wrought nightmare, that erev Shabbos turned out to be one of the best Fridays in recent memory. TGIF indeed!
Best of all, once the dust finally settled on the Ben & Jerry’s BDS fiasco and it became apparent that supporting Ben & Jerry’s Israel is a mitzvah of the highest order, you can be sure that I am ready, willing, and able to do my part. In fact, I may conceivably earn myself a lofty place in the World to Come by virtue of this delectable mitzvah alone!