Yussie and Lea at Kulanu
Yussie and Lea at Kulanu
Yussie and Lea at Kulanu

By Phyllis J. Lubin

As I sit here in the Kulanu gym waiting for the show to begin, I am remembering a time as if it were yesterday. I recall bringing Yussie to the Kulanu Sunday morning program, along with his older sisters who were working as shadows (usually his), with Lea at my side. At that point Lea was just a toddler.

“Why don’t you just leave Lea at the program this morning, while you get some free time for yourself?” remarked one of the program supervisors.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. You have certainly left us with enough staff to help out!” she smiled as she turned to my older daughters.

What an amazing experience that was! Having a whole morning just to myself! I seem to remember that my husband was at work that Sunday (tax season), and it was a beautiful morning to just stroll along Central Avenue.

I hadn’t had time all to myself in a while. Having a child with special needs, we were having therapists coming into the house for Yussie throughout the day practically from when he was born. Lea and Yussie are only two years apart, so while the various therapists arrived at the home to assist Yussie, Lea was there to observe. Lea has grown up with Yussie and has been his “shadow” for her entire life. Because Yussie was slower to acquire certain skills, they were practically learning how to walk at the same time!

And so Lea started attending the Kulanu Sunday program from an early age. At a certain point my older daughters moved on from being Sunday-morning shadows, but Lea continued. She became my eyes and ears on Sunday mornings to let me know how Yussie was doing.

As a youngster herself, she was assigned her own shadow, until a couple of years ago when she decided she was old enough to be a “helper” rather than a “helpee”! Lea, at the age of eight, began helping Bonnie with the art and music program. This past year she has graduated to become a shadow herself.

Here we were now: at a breakfast on a recent Sunday morning, honoring the shadows, and Lea, at the ripe old age of ten, being part of that group! This is a big year for Lea, the culmination of her first year as a shadow at the Sunday-morning program, and graduating fifth grade at the same time. She is leaving elementary school and moving on in the fall to middle school. My baby is growing up!

Kulanu had a wonderful program that Sunday: the children performed along with their shadows in adorable “hoedown” costumes. Both Yussie and Lea were proud to show off, and Lea was especially happy to accept a nice Kulanu bag as a token of appreciation given to all the shadows for the work they have done every Sunday morning. They could have been sleeping late or relaxing, but instead were giving of themselves for the sake of others. We were all especially delighted by the beautiful brunch. This was the last Sunday morning event of the season, but we are all looking forward to the annual Kulanu carnival on June 9. I hope to see you all there! 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 MothersMusings@gmail.com.

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