"Ahhh.” Benny closed his eyes and sniffed with appreciation. “I smell Tatty’s cholent!” 

“Mmmm,” Tzipi added, knocking on the cottage door. “Chicken soup with kneidlach!” 

“Come in, kids,” Gedalya laughed, ushering them into the tzimmer. “Hudy, they’ve finally come!” 

Mommy elbowed the kitchen door open and joined her family in the small living room, both hands still sticky with dough and Tatty’s apron wrapped twice around his slender form. “Tzipi! Benny!” she called to them, opening her arms wide to embrace both at once. 

“It felt like you were gone forever!” Benny hugged his mother so tightly she staggered, catching on to Tzipi to keep her balance. 

“You’re as strong as a horse, Benyamin. What on earth are they feeding you in Bnei Brak?” She planted a kiss on his cheek. 

A cloud of dust from Mommy’s apron tickled Tzipi’s nose, causing her to sneeze over and over. “Mommy, it’s so good to see you again!” she exclaimed, sniffling a bit. “You’re fixing apple strudel?” 

“L’kavod Shabbos Kodesh,” their mother replied, giving a wide grin. 

“Do you need help?” Benny asked, preparing to roll up his sleeves. He loved working in the kitchen with his parents. 

“No, Tatty and I are managing very well. We’ve been working since early this morning and by now everything is nearly ready. Are you hungry?” 

The children devoured double portions of Tatty’s Yerushalmi kugel and Mommy’s sweet potato kugel with pecans, while peppering their mother with questions about where she’d been and sharing details of their adventures since they’d last seen each other. As usual, Mommy’s answers were vague, and she quickly changed the subject, but they were used to this. 

“Would you rather take a nap before Shabbos or explore a little bit outside?” Tatty asked. 

Benny glanced out the window and then down at his full stomach. “It’s a hard decision,” he admitted. 

“Come on, Benny, don’t be a spoilsport. Let’s go outside and explore,” Tzipi urged. 

“Take the key,” their father told the children. “Mommy and I are going to rest for an hour or so. Lichtbentshen is at six thirty. Be sure you’re back in time to shower and get dressed.” 

“Where’s the shul?” Benny asked. 

His parents exchanged glances. “We’ll daven by ourselves, son,” his father explained. “There isn’t a minyan here and there’s no shul near enough for us to walk.” 

Benny was surprised to hear this. He knew how strict Tatty was about always davening with a minyan, and Mommy was certainly aware of this too. “Why didn’t you come to Bnei Brak for Shabbos?” he asked his mother. 

Stifling a sigh, Mommy told him, “This is the only way we can be together right now.”