By Phyllis J. Lubin

“Vesamachta . . . B’chagecha . . . V’hayita ach sameiach!”

“Not yet, Yussie. First Sukkos, then Simchas Torah!”

“Aw, not fair. . . . I love Vesamachta!”

This is a conversation we had countless times prior to Simchas Torah. For Yussie, time does not pass fast enough. And once one holiday ends, he eagerly anticipates the next one. The closer we get to the actual holiday, the greater his excitement.

His excitement is infectious! He brings smiles to everyone’s faces, and you can’t help but join in when he sings.

As I write these musings, the weeks of the month leading up to Yussie’s favorite holiday of the year have finally passed. The anticipation is over, and the joyful memories of this holiday season have passed as well.

The week of Sukkos seems to have been one party after another! We were blessed to have both my parents and my son and daughter-in-law joining us on the first days. Somehow we managed to have most of our meals in a rain-free outdoor experience. Shabbos of chol ha’moed brought more guests to our temporary living area. For Sunday lunch, the Lubin/Davidson/Sterenbuch crew gathered to formally celebrate Rochel’s birthday.

Rochel was actually born the day after Yom Kippur. What an interesting Yom Kippur that was! I was put on strict bed rest, while the older children (at the time: 7, 4, and 2) were entertained by my mom, with periodic checks by my husband, who tried to daven in shul as much as he could. My in-laws and parents occupied the children motzaei Yom Kippur, while Lenny and I left for the hospital soon after Yom Kippur. Rochel Raiza was born that morning, and she has brought immeasurable joy to our family ever since.

Rochel and Yosef have a special bond. Yussie always seems to want to bake something on yom tov–just because you can–and Rochel enjoys trying out new recipes with him. This past yom tov, Rochel and Yosef discovered homemade pretzels. They have become addictive! Shortly before leaving for shul Simchas Torah morning, they popped a batch in the oven.

Simchas Torah was joyous. But both Yussie and Lea are getting older. Neither can sit on Lenny’s shoulders anymore. I couldn’t help getting a little teary that they have reached this milestone. But the happiness of the holiday remains. This year, Yussie proudly held a small Torah (thanks to Rabbi Wolowik’s treasure trove of little “toy” Torahs) while doing hakafot in the shul. He made sure that we had an opportunity to kiss his Torah numerous times.

One of the biggest thrills of this holiday season, was when on yom tov Yussie had an opportunity to be the junior chazzan (with the help of the rabbi). Hearing Yussie’s strong voice as he bellowed “Ein Kelokeinu” gave me such inspiration!

Yosef recently turned 12, which means his bar mitzvah is coming up next summer. What will that mean? Will he understand what that milestone will entail? Do we? Is there a religious rulebook for “special needs” young men and women? What will fast days mean to him? We tried to get him to grasp the idea of fasting this past Yom Kippur. We were actually able to bypass serving him breakfast, but right before leaving for shul I noticed that he had snatched the box of grape tomatoes. . . . I guess technically in his eyes he was fasting, since he skipped his usual breakfast–oy!

When you have children you are always learning new things. Every child is different, hence each approach to everything is a little different as well. May we all merit, with Hashem’s help, to gain the insight as to how to treat each child as they should be. A happy and healthy new year to all of us! 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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