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LifeTakes: Clashing Calendars

Libi Mendelson

The most anticipated date on the balabuste’s calendar isn’t the first day of school. It’s actually “Beis Noach” — the Monday after Succos ends

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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N o matter when Isru Chag Succos falls out, the remains of the long, busy chagim hover in the air until after Shabbos Bereishis. Come Monday morning, the start of the first full week of school and cheder in over a month, many a balabuste heaves a sigh of relief and begins to attack her massive to-do list.

And massive it is. For everything is postponed until “after Yom Tov.” Dentist appointments. Winter coat shopping. Organizing closets. Putting summer clothes in storage and taking winter clothes out. Starting that new diet/shiur/gym commitment. Anything non-urgent yet necessary waits for that anticipated date of Beis Noach.

Alef Noach of 2015 found me on the phone with my sister, discussing the impending relief from the endless cycle of challah-fish-chicken soup-kugel that stood between us and all those important things we hoped to accomplish.

“I’ve entered a new stage,” said my sister. “Beis Noach no longer heralds the Resumption of Normalcy. I have a bochur now; my family’s bein hazmanim extends until Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.”

Having made her first bar mitzvah a year prior, her son was entering yeshivah ketanah for the new zeman, so he wouldn’t be returning to Talmud Torah on the magical day of Beis Noach.

“I’m not here to one-up you,” I sighed, “but Beis Noach is no magical day for me this year either.”

“Oh, right,” she commiserated. “I forgot it’s Columbus Day.”

I belong to an exclusive contingent of frum women who plan their lives not only around the Jewish calendar, but around Eid Al-Adha, the Chinese New Year, and the other eclectic holidays on the Board of Ed schedule.

One of my children has special needs and attends a specialized program inside a New York public school. My gratitude for this program — free of charge, located nearby, staffed with warm frum teachers — is boundless. The one sticking point? The endless parade of American holidays, pseudo-holidays, and other inexplicable days off.

Last year they upped the ante by spreading inclusion and multiculturalism far and wide. They added a day for Muslim students and one for the Chinese community. Which meant that the day after Yom Kippur, when all a mother wants is to see her children safely off to school so she can get her act together for Succos, Yoni was home.

His confusion over being off for the third day in a row created a perfect storm of aggression and intense sensory-seeking behavior. The one respite program in the neighborhood cannot handle him (with good reason), so it was up to me to scramble to find caregivers to assist me. People are not usually available on random days in the middle of the month.

When Cheshvan is ushered in and the calendar beckons, I schedule everything around Yoni’s schooling. Columbus Day is soon followed by Election Day, a half day for PTA, Veterans Day, and the two-day Thanksgiving break — all before Chanukah. Throw three nephews’ weddings into the mix, and I feel like I have a perpetual hangover. As soon as Chanukah ends, enter a ten-day break for winter holidays. It’s brutal.

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