On the first Sunday of 2014 we drove down to New York to see the Lazaroff’s (Raizy’s sister and family) of Houston who made a big family road trip (stopping in Dallas, Tulsa, St Louis, Ohio along their way) to New York for a family wedding and in honor of their eldest daughter’s Bat-Mitzvah. Our kids were very eager to drive in and see them. So we did.

The drive in wasn’t bad. We first stopped at the Rebbe’s Ohel (gravesite in Old Montefiore in Queens) to pray as a family. We haven’t been there together as a family since before the summer. True, it was chilly outside, but also heartwarming. It was an opportunity to write down that which is on our hearts, or for the younger kids recent milestones and achievements, and share that with the Rebbe in a spiritual yet tangible form, and pray to G-d in that auspicious place for assistance in all that we need.

It was hard to find parking in Crown Heights. The snow was still deep, and piled high in some places. The parking areas on the streets were still not fully plowed out. We circled and circled, and lamented the difficulty in finding a space. Bluma pipes up from the back of the car: “Everyone else is able to find parking!”

It was great to see the Lazaroffs. Their kids grew a lot (which happens when you don’t see children for a while) and our kids hit it off right away. It also happened to be their daughter Rivky’s birthday, so we got to celebrate with them. We caught up and shared family matters, and also Chabad things, and ideas for programming and classes.

Rabbi Mendel and Moshe went to meet Mendel’s brother Rabbi Efraim Rubin who was studying (he does Rabbinic research and freelance writing and translation) at a study center on Empire Blvd. While there we met Yehoshua K. who remembered Mendel as his Tanya and Talmud teacher many years ago at the Ivy League Torah Study Program in the Catskills, and is now also a co-worker with a Shabbos House alumni. It was good to see each other and catch up after the years .

The drive back wasn’t as easy. The NY/NJ Palisades was so thick with fog, you could hardly make out the road’s line markings. Once past the Thruway Toll Plaza, especially near New Paltz, there were numerous cars off the road with emergency vehicles assisting every few miles. The road was icy, so we took it slow, and BH got home OK. Our ramp at home was a thin clear sheet of ice. Thank G-d we got home OK.


Monday morning is when the Polar Vortex skimmed our area, and the temperature dropped like a rock. Mendel did a little research on the Polar Vortex, checked it with our meteorologist alumni friends and write this piece on “An Emotional Twist to the Polar Vortex”. Albany City Schools closed for the day, but other area schools were open. Maimonides, our kids school, opened with a 2-hour delay.

Also on Monday we spent quite a bit of time working on the Regional Shabbaton planned for March 7-9 at Albany. Its exciting and we’re looking forward, but also requires quite a bit of planning and preparation and logistical arrangements. Students, stay tuned for developments and also the housing hosting sign-up as the semester starts up again. Please ask friends and siblings at other upstate NY campuses to save the date and think about coming. Chabad Houses at many upstate campuses will have details soon.

Mushky continues to study for her SATs. Rabbi Mendel took the kids to the Guilderland Library to return books and take out new ones. We found a few nice new Picture Books that we haven’t seen before, including a few good ones by Patricia Pollaco, and by Tom Lichtenheld. Moshe is headed up to Montreal for two days with his classmates and Rabbi Rubin Sr. to participate in the Siyum HaRambam there (Rabbi Rubin is the featured speaker) enjoy Montreal Kosher eateries, see some of its Jewish institutions, and tour a couple of sites before they head back on Thursday.

Raizy did a lot of organizing work in the Shabbos House office, hopefully we’ll have a enough time this break to get to everything. There’s a lot of backend paperwork and things to do. Hope to get catch up!