By Phyllis J. Lubin
“I see that they scheduled Parents’ Weekend on the first days of Sukkos this year. That will be tough to swing,” mentioned Leib to Rochel when the SUNY Albany calendar arrived during the summer.
“Don’t worry! You did Parents’ Weekend last year. No need to come again,” Rochel pointed out.
“You don’t want us to come?” I inquired.
“It’s not that I don’t want you to come, it’s just that no parents are coming—it’s Sukkos and it will be hard for you,” Rochel explained.
That made sense. Sukkos was a three-day yom tov stretch this year and it would be difficult to be away from home at that time. We truly enjoyed our time at Shabbos House (the Chabad of SUNY Albany) with Rabbi Mendel and Rebbetzin Raizy Rubin last year, but we wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome by being there for an entire yom tov.
As time passed, my husband noticed that Chabad of SUNY Albany was offering an “alternative parents’ weekend,” understanding the difficulty of attending the one over Sukkos.
“I see there is an alternative parents’ weekend coming up in November,” my husband pointed out to Rochel.
“Don’t worry! As I said before, you did Parents’ Weekend last year. No need to come again.”
“Are you sure? Won’t you be lonely?” I asked.
“I’ll be fine. Besides, it’s the Shabbos that is only two weeks before Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ll be returning home then anyway.”
A couple of weeks later, the conversation went something like this:
“By the way, Raizy Rubin said that you are welcome to stay at Shabbos House again for Parents’ Weekend.”
“But I thought you didn’t want us to come.”
“I never said that I didn’t want you to come. I said that you didn’t have to come this time.”
“So you do want us to come?”
“I wouldn’t mind if you came . . .”
Apparently, Rochel and her friends had discussed the concept of the parents coming to this alternative Shabbos and the consensus was that they were all coming—so why not us?
The beauty of the Jewish contingent at SUNY Albany is that because it is relatively small, it is close-knit.
Rochel had a few requirements: two packages of American cheese; a full, fresh David’s Pizza pie; and most importantly, no embarrassing her in any way while we are there.
We remembered the cheese, we had David pack up the pie in individual slices, and I pray we didn’t embarrass Rochel too much.
The Rubins were incredible hosts. Having the opportunity to spend another Shabbos with their wonderful family was truly a treasure. Rabbi Mendel and Rebbetzin Raizy take care of all the students in a special way. And Leib, Yosef, Lea, and I were treated like part of the family as well. Yosef made himself heard during the davening and Rabbi Rubin made sure to allow Yussie to lead his usual “junior chazzan” prayers.
Besides spending time with Rochel, we had the opportunity to bond with other parents and students. Shabbos was both restful and filling—please forgive me, Weight Watchers! Motzaei Shabbos we feasted on pita pizza, we roasted marshmallows in a fire pit, and a student mini-band serenaded us with our favorite tunes.
Thanks to Rochel for allowing us to spend this precious time with her and the other students and parents, and thanks to Rabbi Mendel and Rebbetzin Raizy and the entire Rubin family for making us feel right at home yet again.
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.