Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Av 5766 - August 16, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Highest Commodity
by Risa Rotman

[Written last summer . . . ]

This summer I felt obligated to take my younger kids out for a big outing while the older kids were away at camp. It didn't seem fair that every day the younger ones would watch as the older ones packed up with extra nosh, swimming gear, and board a bus and were off, while they stayed home to color pictures or visit the same neighborhood parks.

When someone offered tickets to "Funland" that they were unable to use, we figured this was the big opportunity. I had been at "Funland" previously and knew what to expect. Crowds and crowds, hot and sticky outdoors, trying to keep track of my kids and my sanity. What can I say? It's not my dream attraction but then, again, my kids wouldn't think much of my tastes, either. I have to admit that "Funland" does try to present activities for all ages and genders with alot of regard for the charedi community's needs.

Although there were even more activities this year than last and a tremendous amount of effort was exerted, one item was sorely under-available: tables, and particularly chairs. The park was suppose to open its doors at 11:00 a.m. So when we arrived at one minute to eleven, I thought we were doing really good. That was until I spied the two hundred families already within the gates. So early? I thought this was the country where everything is known to be notoriously late.

At first I didn't understand why everyone was grabbing white plastic chairs with great energy. Those chairs seemed like the rarest commodity in town. Soon I was wishing that I had invested in the plastic chair business myself. We had decided to leave our picnic stuff in the car and only bring some snack stuff for the time being. It would have been nice, though, to put it down by a table so that we could have a meeting place with the kids.

One table had chairs all around but on each chair there was an item guarding its place; a backpack, a water carrier, a diaper bag. They seem to be saying, "Don't move us..." At another table sat one or two older men with chairs all around. Although they were deep in conversation, they seemed to have a countenance that said, "Don't even ask for these chairs. We are saving them for our kids and grandchildren."

This seemed the modis operandi of all the tables around; being guarded with a message that said "Already taken." Finally I actually found some chairs that looked unused and unguarded. I was about to take them when one of the workers said, "You can't have those. They're for the workers." I wanted to answer back that if you are working then you don't need them but instead I simply pointed out that there didn't seem to be enough chairs. They shrugged their shoulders and I went back to my husband.

Just then a young man (we never did find out his name) came over to my husband and said, "We have some room at our table if you need."

"Thanks," we said, grateful to call a small place our own. It turned out they were three brothers spending the day together. One brother brillantly brought his own fold-up table-and-chairs set. After that we were all coming and going. While my attempts to procure chairs failed, the sons of our gracious hosts had managed to magically round up several. Our timing worked out perfectly. Just as we finished our picnic lunch, our hosts were starting their own so that we could vacate in time for their use. We were even able to provide them with a cup and towel for handwashing.

Some might think that the chairs were the rarest commodity that day. Unfortunately a spirit of generosity and sharing was almost as lacking as the chairs. I am happy to know that even in such times there are still those special people who retain their goodness and giving spirit.


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