Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Shabbos with the “Girls”

Machla Abramovitz

Their husbands have passed away, their children and grandchildren live far from them. But these four women, the youngest of whom is 74, have each other. They get together weekly to share Shabbos — and life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

shabbos tableIt’s 6:30 p.m. on Shabbos afternoon, and Debby is patiently waiting for me in the lobby of herWilderton Avenueapartment building inMontreal. She is a petite brunette whose appearance belies her 80 years. “We’re all very excited about you coming,” she quietly tells me. Debby and the “girls,” as she and her three friends refer to each other, have graciously invited me to Shalosh Seudos.

Debby lives on the ninth floor of this 1960s highrise. But today, thankfully, we have no steps to walk; we’re eating in Susan’s apartment on the first floor. A 74-year-old with sparkling blue eyes, Susan opens the door with a flourish. “Welcome to my home,” she beams, enthusiastically giving me a hug.

In an extremely large living/dining room, I find the other two “girls.” Seated on an armchair beside the patio door is Helen, the eldest of the group at age 90. She’s dressed in a brown skirt and white top. She warmly welcomes me with a smile and a wave of her hand, as does the elegant, ash-blonde Bobbi, classically dressed in a tasteful beige sweater set and skirt. Bobbi, 83, is seated beneath some beautifully crafted needlepoints — “My mother made those,” shares Susan, an ever-attentive hostess.

It’s a comfortable room. The summer sun flows through the white sheer draperies, casting a golden glow on the ivory walls. My eye catches a montage of family photos. “That’s my son and his family, and that’s my husband,” Susan says proudly, pointing out a picture of a short, cheerful-looking man standing among many grandchildren. A small smile appears on her face as she gazes at the photo.

The dining room table is elegantly set. “No paper plates,” Susan emphasizes. A lovely white tablecloth adorns a table laden with platters of tuna and gefilte fish, deviled eggs swimming in peas and carrots, spreads, hard cheese, challah, bread, and a large salad. “Bobbi helped me prepare,” Susan tells me. “She’s the fancy one among us.”

Susan has been hosting Shalosh Seudos for the “girls” for years. For the Friday night seudah, each lady takes a turn hosting and preparing the meal in her respective apartment on a rotating basis. Invitations are also extended for both meals to frum ladies living alone in the building: there’s Nancy, a retired bookkeeper; Doreen, a retired nurse; and their good friend Rose.

Although from different backgrounds — Susan and Bobbi are fromBudapest,Hungary, Helen is fromMichalovce,Czechoslovakia, while Debby is the odd girl out, having been born and raised inBaltimore,Maryland— they share a common life situation: each has lost her husband. As well, none of their children or grandchildren lives inMontreal.

But even though there’s no family around, they’re not alone — they have one another and for that they are especially grateful. “When Bobbi was sitting shivah,” Helen tells me, “I told her children, ‘Don’t worry about your mother; we will take care of her.’”

Graciously, Debby invites us all to the table. There’s no need to ask twice. We wash, hamotzi is made, and we dig into the delicious food. Within moments, the conversation becomes boisterous — Bobbi’s and Susan’s Hungarian accents distinguishable from the others. 

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"