Originally, we didn’t have much planned for this Sunday of Sukkot, after all it comes after a 3-day holiday when students were here celebrating for six festive meals… but it turned out to be quite the busy day after all! Two surprise stop-in alumni visits, a Minyan Brunch, traveling campus Shluchim, explaining our kids how carburetors worked, and a mega bite in the Sukkah, and more…

Sunday mornings are always a big cleanup and transition day for us. Then Raizy went out to Kosher Price Chopper in Colonie to get the Bagels for the Brunch (something Mendel usually does) while Mendel updated the Mendel’s Messages on the website and kept little Rivka happy.

Minyan Brunch was earlier than usual due to Hillel’s apple-picking outing at noontime. Nice on-time Minyan but with lots of extras for the Sukkot holiday, including Lulav, Hallel, Hoshanot, Torah Reading and Musaf. No Talmud class this morning, we will get back to that after the holiday stretch. A student’s family joined us for the Bagel Brunch in the Sukkah, along with the alumni family  (class of 2000) who was here for the first 3 days of Sukkot and headed back home that morning.

The kids needed to get out and there’s a tradition of Chol HaMoed trips, so we drove up to the “The Way We Were” car show on the streets of downtown Ballston Spa, where hundreds of old cars were on display, vintage cars, muscle cars, with their proud owners and refurbishers eager to share the cars history and the work they put into bringing it back to life. One thing that caught our attention was the carburetors prominent on almost all old engines. Our family’s first car after marriage was a used Chevy Celebrity (forgot the year, but it was from the 1980’s). The last repair job we did on it before it went out to pasture was the carburetor, and our next car already had fuel injection. Tried to explain to the kids the difference, especially as it applies to life: what we take in, how we mix it together and regulate that mixture and what we make of it… to fuel our lives and give us energy and motivation.

From the car show we drove to the Shteeble on New Scotland in Albany, where there was a Children’s Sukkot Rally. Bassie won a toy piano/keyboard, and generously decided that would make a nice birthday present for her sister Esther Miriam. After the rally we drove back to Shabbos House for a family Sukkot get-together and birthday for Esther Miriam.

In the driveway we had a surprise guest! Eliot brought over Michael A. who graduated in 2013 and has since begun serving in the IDF, was a dorm-counselor for a yeshiva in Israel and may now go to medical school in Israel as part of his army service. It was so good to see him, many memories! We pulled out a photo album or two, flipping pages, he asked us to email him some of those photos. We really ought to take the time to do that for alumni, we have so many memorable times together…

At the family gathering it was learned that Mendel’s parents moved to this area to be the Rebbe’s Shluchim and establish Chabad here this very week in 1974, in middle of Sukkos exactly 40 years ago! We got into a whole conversation and trip down memory lane discussing one of Rabbi Rubin’s earliest Mitzvah promotions: The Shabbos Candle-Lighting Matchbooks. see link for that interesting piece of history. We brought out the related artwork that hung in the old Shabbos House, and took family photos with it.

After family left, a large group of students came by. We offered them a quick bite in the Sukkah, a big platter of rugelach in fact, and we all said two blessings together aloud, one on the rugleach and the other on the Sukkah. Then we sang the Sukkahleh song together, quite a few remembered it from past years, though few of these guys had been to our Sukkah yet this holiday. It was a great feeling, sung with gusto and energy. It was just 5 minutes in the Sukkah but felt eternal, like the Sukkahleh song of 2,000 years…

We went into the Sukkah for a little tea, and found traveling campus Shluchim there, the new family at Hamilton College in Clinton NY near Utica. We were so happy to show them around! They just moved out and already had Sukkot there… amazing. We wish them much success.

Then it got quiet in the house. We worked on getting the kids to bed, and then worked with Zeide Galperin to edit his Sukkah in Tashkent story for online posting. And then another alumni popped in for a quick visit. We went out to eat some soup in the Sukkah. He’s in town to work on an investment rental he bought here. He puts in a lot of the work himself along with a team, comes up on weekends when he can get away from work in the City. It was great to catch up, we’re glad he took out some time from tiling and cabinets to see us and enjoy a little Sukkah feel, too.

So we thought it would be a quieter Sunday, but it was filled! A blessing indeed!

And believe it or not, we started another puzzle! this time it’s 1,000 pieces but square shaped, and has a Jewish theme. It’s still a work in progress, out on the table in the big room, getting places – a few pieces at a time.