Fanyta (aka Tziporah) V. transferred to Queens College after her sophomore year, probably around 2005 or 2006 and yet was quite eager for all of us (yes, kids too!) to come down to her wedding in Lakewood NJ. We do have many fond memories (and pictures) of her time her with us, she was refined and eager, sincere and warm. Mushky stayed home with little EM, Moshe and Bluma, while we drove down with Bassie, Sara and Chani. Thanks to the guys, they kept up the Sunday Minyan Brunch!

We were getting close to NJ, when we got a call from an alumni couple from 1999. They saw on Facebook that we were traveling down to a wedding in NJ and wondered if we could meet up for a short visit. This alumni family lives in Israel for many years now but we used to see them occasionally when they visited with family in NY. Recently they haven’t been coming in as much, and since their family moved out west we don’t get to see them as much. So we were quite surprised to hear they were in Teaneck NJ for a few hours before their flight back to Israel that very afternoon. We took a slight detour off our trip, and stopped off to see them. The last time we saw them, we learned this lesson about 3-DAY YOMTOV, this time we had a different inspiration while visiting them:

This past Shabbos they stayed at the Long Island home of another Shabbos House / UAlbany alum from 1999. On Shabbos morning he was looking through the books for something to learn or read and came across “Once Upon a Chassid” with inspirational stories relating to the weekly Torah portions by Yanki Tauber. Inside the book was the graduation letter we wrote in 1999 to this alum and it still there prominent on his bookshelf! (This dates back to the days before we wrote the graduation letters inside the Shabbos House cookbook).

We changed into wedding clothes and headed down the Garden State Parkway. As we neared Lakewood, the snow flurries turned to snow, and there was quite a bit of accumulation. The wedding hall was in one of the brand new school buildings built on the outskirts of the growing Lakewood community, quite impressive in fact. The school was all brick, Colonial or New England look, pillars and portico out front. The wedding hall was more lavish and elegant that we expected. The good thing about coming early is that we got to see the Kallah before most people got there, and enjoyed the smorgasbord (especially as we were quite hungry from the long drive).

It was one of those weddings where we didn’t know a lot of people, but reached out and made conversation. There were many Rabbis in attendance from the groom’s Yeshiva in Israel and from various outreach organizations in the New York area. There was a lot of hats and a lot of lively and joyous energy. A young nephew of the Kallah told me “You look like Rabbi Wolowik!” (the Chabad Rabbi in the Five Towns). I met a young Lakewood Yeshiva students whose cousins were friends of mine way back in Yeshiva days. And at our table there was a sweet young couple from Chicago. We asked if they knew our sister and brother-in-law Moshe & Elkie from Chicago (even though Chicago is a big city) and indeed they did! They lit up as the described Moshe’s post-Kiddush farbrengens at the Lincolnwood synagogue where they both pray!

It seemed that the snowfall and slick roads kept guests from coming and made others quite late. And it also made us leave at 8pm, just after the Chassan and Kallah came in to the wedding hall for the first dance. We had a long trip ahead of us, so we had to head out. But we couldn’t come to Lakewood without stopping by for a quick visit to Motti and Ilana (both UAlbany and Shabbos House alumni). This time we visited them in a spacious basement apartment where they are living temporarily as they hope to close on a home in a nearby Lakewood neighborhood. The kids were asleep by the time we got there, but we got to see photos of how their girls have grown, and have a quick conversation before heading back up to Albany. We got home about 1:30am.

All in all, a very special trip. Got to see two alumni families, and celebrate with one alumna as she embarks on a new family of her own.