By Phyllis J. Lubin

Everyone is back where they should be this fine morning as I sit in front of the computer and muse about the events of the past couple of weeks.

While Rochel enjoyed her brief time in the Holy Land, the contingency at home planned for our “vacation.” Prior to Rochel’s last-minute inclusion in the Birthright trip, we had planned on taking her on our adventure. The thought had been to conjoin Yussie’s one day of vacation (Martin Luther King Day) with the HAFTR beginning days of vacation. We had originally planned to leave Sunday, January 19, travel to the Great Escape Lodge in Lake George with Rochel, Yosef, Lea, and my eldest daughter in tow (while Rivka returned to Stern, and my husband worked diligently during his busy tax season) and return Rochel to SUNY Albany on that Tuesday.

And then Birthright called on the morning of January 6, and Rochel left on her plane that night, slightly confusing our plans. No worries. We would move our trip up to Monday, January 20 (Rochel was due to return that morning), take her with us to Lake George, and then bring her back to SUNY Albany the next day, and stay somewhere else midway to home on Tuesday night to round out our vacation.

January 12, I received the following text: “I really don’t think I’ll be able to handle the water park the day after Israel and the day before I go back to school. I need time to relax or I’m not going to be doing well, so I don’t know what to do about that.”

My text back: “U seem grumpy . . . did u have fun today?”

And hers: “I did. This is a fun trip . . . but I’m serious about the water park. Please confirm u understand I can’t do the water park.”

Can’t do the water park? This was Rochel’s choice of a relatively local vacation destination. She scanned the available indoor water parks. We had already visited Great Wolfe Lodge a couple of times and loved it, but were looking to try out another venue. And this hotel was only 50 miles from Albany! It was a great mix!

In fact, Rochel had happened upon this particular hotel a couple of years back (life before SUNY Albany), and I felt that a trip to Lake George was just too far for just a couple of nights in the winter. Now that she needed a ride back to school, Lake George didn’t seem so far away.

But if Rochel was going to be a grumpy and tired camper, we would have to change our course. Fortunately, we are what you would call last-minute schedulers; I hadn’t actually made reservations anywhere at that point. But I had already divulged to Lea the concept of a water-park vacation destination, so this had to work out somehow.

“Look, Mom! Move-in for SUNY Albany actually begins on January 19, so we can drop Rochel off at school on the 20th and still have our vacation in Lake George,” my eldest daughter pointed out. I think my college graduate was actually excited for our adventure!

Did that make sense? Would Rochel mind if we dropped her off a day earlier than planned? There was only one way of finding out . . .

“I certainly don’t mind going to school on Monday. That would give me two days to rest up before school starts. I feel bad to miss the Lake George trip, but this really does make the most sense,” Rochel imparted from one of her actual Israel phone calls.

This was shaping up. I was able to make reservations for the Great Escape Lodge by the 14th (actually very advance planning on my part) for two nights. I would pick up Rochel on the “red-eye” on Monday morning at around 6:30, and we would be on our way to SUNY Albany by 10 a.m.– that would give Rochel just enough time to see Lenny and all the grandparents, shower, do laundry, and pack before our exodus from Cedarhurst. Then, knowing that we would be staying in Lake George for two nights, we wouldn’t mind getting there a bit later on Monday night after returning Rochel safely to her dorm room.

Monday morning arrived all too soon, and at 6:10 I received the following text: “Landed”

“Mazel tov!!! Call when u get ur luggage!”

“R u here?”

“Not yet! U didn’t get ur luggage yet. Call or text when u get to the luggage area before u get ur luggage and I’ll leave.”


At 6:20 I received the text: “At baggage.”

And so of course I arrived at the airport way too early (I have a habit of not sleeping the night before a morning pickup, and then getting restless and getting there way too soon).

At 6:41 a.m. I inquired, “Which building?”

“Abt to be questioned,” she replied.

What did that mean? She was being questioned at the baggage area? That didn’t make sense.

“I’m here,” I explained. “where r u?”

“Still looking for bag”

“Oi! I might have to move–I’m waiting outside.”

Suffice it to say that I didn’t find Rochel until about 7:30. And of course we missed the turn-off to Rockaway Turnpike and didn’t get home till closer to 8, but Lenny was waiting for us to arrive.

Our morning after that was a jumble, but we were indeed on our way by 10:20 (only a little later than envisioned) and were able to see both sets of grandparents, do the laundry, and even “chapped in” breakfast at Rochel’s favorite bagel store on Central Avenue.

It was great having those few hours to be with Rochel on the way to Albany and hear some tidbits about her whirlwind trip to Israel.

Somehow I was able to make the trip up to Albany in three and a half hours. The traffic was fine, and the bridges weren’t as frightening as I had envisioned them to be (I was able to make it up to 38 miles per hour on both the Throgs Neck and the Tappan Zee bridges, which to me is practically speeding)!

After our all-too-brief stop-off at Rochel’s dorm amidst some snow that had recently begun, we were on our way to the Great Escape Lodge in Lake George, New York.

At this point I see that if I don’t end here I will surely miss my deadline to make it into this week’s edition, so I will have to save the details of the rest of our trip for next week! Until then, drive safely and keep warm! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children–Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea–and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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