We usually try to limit our travels during the academic semesters because of all that needs to get done here. But as it happens we’ve been doing a lot of traveling, 5 times in under 15 days this mid-November 2015.
(1) Our first trip this November (after Mendel’s one day at the Chabad Conference) was down to Staten Island for a Shiva. We went, just Raizy and Mendel, to see Rachel (’00) who was sitting shiva in her parents home after the untimely passing of her mother. Rachel was one of our first close friends at UAlbany, and an active student leader in her time. Perhaps it was due to our first trip being for a Shiva that pushed us to better travel for Simchas.
(2) A double-bris for twin-boys isn’t that common, and we were especially excited for Wendy (’07) and her husband Andrew (as well as for Wendy’s parents, now first-time grandparents, who are very fine folks whom we’ve known and respected for a long time) – so we made the 5-hour trip to and from Philadelphia (the Hilton City Avenue Hotel to be exact) to attend their double Bris on Veterans Day. The kids had no school so we came down with all them aside for Moshe and Mushky who stayed back for various reasons. At the Bris we did get to see alumna Natalie and her husband Jordan, both attorneys in Philly. Speaking of attorneys, we wanted to see alumnus Zalmy, his wife Dr. Lana and their baby, but the timing didn’t work out (this time). Next time, we’ll have to make time to see more alumni there (including Randy H. and Jordan D. both in Grad School there) as well as see some of the historic sights like Independence Hall, the biblical verse and crack on the Liberty Bell, etc.. We have cousins there, too, in the older part of downtown, and Chabad on Campus colleagues. Another time!
(3) Genna (’10) is engaged! We had to go down for their Lchaim party on Sunday. The kids were great about getting back into the car for an in/out trip to Brooklyn. It was great to see many of Genna’s UAlbany friends, plus Raizy’s parents who lived down the block from the celebration in Crown Heights, and Raizy’s sister and brother-in-law Nechama Dina and Rabbi Sholom Ber from Monsey who have been a second home and Shabbos House II for Genna after college. And above all to see Genna so happy, beaming and gleaming, and her very sweet fiance Michael from San Diego. We got to meet some of Michael’s family and of course, we go back a long way with Genna’s parents, who remain close with us to this day.
(4) Ben (’12/’14) and Stephanie (’14) were both very active at Shabbos House, Lchaim and a big part of the UAlbany Jewish campus community. They’ve since married and moved to Glen Oaks which straddles Queens and Long Island. They had a baby boy and the Bris is early enough on Friday morning that we can drive in and back even on a short Friday. Interestingly, the Rabbi of their synagogue in New Hyde Park grew up in Albany and go back a long way with the Rubin family here. Small world!
(5) Lauren’s (’12) wedding is on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The whole family is headed down to NJ for this one! She’s marrying Yigal of Houston, they were set up by two of Raizy’s sisters: Chanie of Houston and Nechama Dina of Monsey, and they’ve been thrilled ever since. Lauren is already working down in Houston as a school counselor. We are very happy to be able to celebrate with them on their special day. We remember Lauren’s very first visit to Shabbos House as a prospective student with her father. We remember where they sat in the Sukkah that night. We remember what we spoke about. And we’ve made so many unforgettable memories since.
These students have given tremendously of themselves, invested in our community and been incredibly devoted to Shabbos House. It isn’t cliche to say that they’ve become family.
Given all of our obligations here, and the growing number of alumni each year, we can’t always make these long in and out trips. It just isn’t possible. But they way it works out during this time of the semester, when things are busy but less hectic, and perhaps because of the recent Shiva, we’re happy to drive in and celebrate Simchas with alumni whenever we can. May we share many wonderful and joyous Simchas, whether in person or in spirit.