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A Simcha A Day

Michal Eisikowitz

It’s the problem that everyone prays for: too many simchahs. Yet, having scores of simchahs, say the experts, brings with it its own complexities — to be navigated with wisdom. Family First spoke with some seasoned simchah-goers to glean advice and inspiration on how best to capitalize on this divine outpouring of joy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Averaging two brissim and one wedding/engagement party per week, plus plenty of pidyon habens and kiddushim sprinkled throughout, great-great grandmother Mrs. Faige Tessler* of Bnei Brak is a full-time partygoer — and she’s forever grateful.

“Hashem has showered me with blessing,” she declares.

And yet, despite her deep feelings of gratitude, this feisty octogenarian — along with many others — admits to the real challenges that accompany the nonstop bliss: conflicts, competition, time constraints, and more.

Wanted: More Hours Each Day

For most veteran simchah-frequenters, simply finding the time to attend every event is the hardest part. As the prevailing retirement age creeps steadily higher (thanks to a rough economic climate), many baby boomers find themselves holding down full-time jobs well into their 60s or 70s while juggling many responsibilities at home.

“If it ever gets too much for me, nonfamily simchahs are eliminated first,” says Monsey–based Mrs. Kreindy Lamm,* a beloved morah who’s worked for the past five decades in a Queens cheder. Mrs. Lamm — who kein ayin hara has about 55 married grandchildren and now mostly attends weddings of great-grandchildren — says that with her grueling schedule, she had to cut back.

“To beat the traffic, I need to leave to work at 6:15 a.m. But to manage my daily Tehillim and morning bicycle ride, I wake up at 4:40 a.m. That means I need to get to bed early!”

A whirlwind of energy, Mrs. Lamm relates that on mornings after family simchahs, she either takes off or comes late. For all other affairs, she leaves quite early.

“This way I’ve participated in their joy; I’ve made the effort,” she says.

New Yorkers Mr. Yoily and Rechy Weiss have adopted a different approach to the inevitable dearth of time. Renowned for their enthusiasm and spontaneity, the couple has been sighted jumping into a car straight from work and driving five hours to participate in a simchah. But in their case, it’s not always family first.

“We have an open home,” explains Mr. Weiss, “and we host many single baalei teshuvah. When they get married, these brave souls often have no one to invite; their families aren’t always interested. Our presence at their simchah means the world to them.

“As a rule, we aim to attend every affair. But if we have to limit, we go to where our absence will be most keenly felt. And sometimes that means giving up a large, well-attended family simchah for a no-frills wedding where the showing is dismal.”

For great-grandmother Mrs. Harriet Skaist of Far Rockaway, time is less of an issue — it’s the logistics and finances that pose the problem.

“My children live across the globe,” she says. “I’d love to attend every simchah, but it’s not always feasible. My husband and I are semi-retired and tickets are expensive; sometimes we have to draw the line.”

She dolefully points out another deciding factor: health.

“I never dreamed health issues would thwart my simchah plans, but life’s taught me otherwise. While attending an out-of-country wedding last year, I arrived at the height of the allergy season — and soon became awfully sick with asthma. Though the local doctor prescribed medicine, he gave me the wrong dosage and didn’t tell me how to wean myself off of it. It was a rough few weeks, and I felt very lost and helpless. I’ve begun to think twice before leaving the care of my trusty doctor for an extended period.”

Still, Rabbi and Mrs. Skaist try their hardest to be there. A special rebbetzin blessed with similar simchah “plights” once told her, “If I can’t make it up, I don’t miss it,” and Mrs. Skaist strives to follow this golden rule.

“The bottom line,” she says, “is that we want to chap arein on all this nachas — these are the dividends of the love and chinuch we’ve implanted in our children.”

Halfway across the planet, Mrs. Faige Tessler can’t relate to these globe-trotting dilemmas. In stark contrast to the Skaists, she’s never traveled more than one hour to a family simchah. The reason? She’s been granted the rare zchus of having every single one of her children and grandchildren within a 100-kilometer radius of her Bnei Brak home. And with nachas that easily accessible, she rarely misses an opportunity.

“This is my life now,” she says thankfully. “I still have a small, home-based business to run, but taking the time to attend simchahs is by far my primary preoccupation. And it’s my joy.”


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