By Phyllis J. Lubin

My conversation with Yosef on Friday, December 5, went something like this:
“What time is everyone coming for Shabbos?”
“Just us this week, Yussie.”
“What time are Naftali and Nina coming with Maurice?”
“They are not coming this Shabbos, Yussie. The bat mitzvah celebration was last week.”
“What time are Grandma and Zayde and Bubby and Zayde coming?”
“Not this week, Yuss. Just us this week.”
“Aw. Why not?”
“Lea’s bat mitzvah celebration was last week. This Shabbos will be quieter.”
“How about Rochel?”
“Nope. Rochel went back to Albany. She will be back next week for the Chabad dinner.”
“How about Rivka?”
“She is staying at her Stern dorm this Shabbos, but she will be back next week, too!”
“And Michal, Hallel, and Nachum?”
“They went back to Israel,” I explained.
“What about Uncle Harris, Aunt Ora, and Cousin Yaakov?”
“Not this week, Yuss.”
“So who is coming for Shabbos this week?”
Yosef loves company. He enjoys having guests, and don’t be surprised if when he sees you on any given day, he invites you home for a meal!
We surely had a lot of excitement the Shabbos of Parashas Vayeitzei (November 29). We were finally celebrating Lea Gittle Lubin’s becoming a bat mitzvah. Her actual Hebrew birthday was a couple of days after Rosh Hashanah, but due to logistical reasons, the best time to officially celebrate was Thanksgiving weekend. Both Rochel and Rivka had a brief vacation from school, and the date for Lea’s friends and family party was available on the HAFTR bat mitzvah calendar for November 30, hence this weekend was chosen.
The weather on Shabbos was perfect. We had been baking cookies and cakes for a couple of weeks beforehand and we were ready! Lea made us all proud when she gave her d’var Torah at our Shabbos afternoon tea to a packed audience.
Time surely has sped by. All the planning for this one weekend, and now it is in the past. Our sparkling Lea was the belle of the ball and impressed us all with her maturity and grace. Many of her neighborhood friends trekked over on Shabbos afternoon and returned to celebrate with her at Cho-sen Island the next day.
At Cho-sen, her friends and family worked hard on a special chesed project through the organization Zichron Chana Bayla. The girls decorated T-shirts to be used as hospital gowns for sick children. Hopefully the beautifully decorated shirts will brighten up a sad and frightened child in a hospital bed. Lea gave yet another lovely d’var Torah on Sunday, and made us all proud yet again.
And now we have a bit of quiet this week . . . until next Sunday.
A couple of months ago, Rabbi Wolowik came by my office for a chat. The rabbi is no stranger to the Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP offices at 132 Spruce Street in Cedarhurst, and seeing him here was not surprising. But what he wanted to discuss was a shocker. He had a request. He had been discussing Friendship Circle with its director, Batsheva Borenstein, and they both thought it would be great to have a Friendship Circle “ingredient” honored at this year’s dinner. I pondered and asked, “So you want to honor Yussie at the dinner?” No, the rabbi explained, they wanted to honor Lenny and me at the dinner. As both Friendship Circle parents and Chabad shul “partners,” the rabbi felt this would be a good combination. What to do? I explained that we are not a draw to bring people in, and certainly not a great source of funds, but if this would give honor to our shul while at the same time give Yussie a great party, we were in.
Please keep in mind that our dear friends Rabbi Zalman and Chanie Wolowik are on constant call to every member of the community. Their smiling faces and hearts of gold are what draw everyone to that remarkable building on Maple Avenue in Cedarhurst.
Personally, our lives and the lives of our children have been touched by Chabad as well. As parents of a special-needs child, we always worry how people will react to our wonderful son Yosef Binyamin. We are so proud of him and of his accomplishments, but, to be honest, at times he can be a handful. From day one, both the Wolowiks and the youth directors, Rabbi Meir and Mrs. Hadassah Geisinsky, opened up their hearts to Yosef and our family. There was never a moment when we did not feel welcome.
Chabad’s Friendship Circle under the direction of Batsheva Borenstein has given our family a sense of camaraderie with a wonderful group of people and with all the programs under its auspices; Judaica Circle has given Yussie his foundation in Yiddishkeit; Mom’s Night Out events give me tons of support; and other social programs include father-and-son bowling nights, Sunday Circle, and Sibs Circle.
This dinner is taking place on December 14–just two weeks after the excitement of the bat mitzvah! For those of you who have not yet purchased raffle tickets or made a dinner reservation, there is always room for more at the Chabad of the Five Towns. Just click on the dinner link today at, and please try to participate in some way.
And so, dear Yussie, yes, it’s “just us” this Shabbos–we need some quiet before the next event!
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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