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SisterSchmooze: Weathering the Storm

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Leah Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

We Sisters have experienced our share of storms — of the literal, figurative, and spiritual varieties. Let us regale you with our turbulent tales

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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S torms. Blizzards. Hurricanes. Words that evoke images of mass destruction — fallen trees, washed-out bridges, power outages, treacherous ice, car pileups. We’ve all weathered storms of some sort, sometimes literally, occasionally figuratively: in our feelings, in our relationships, in crisis situations. We’ve been deluged with work, mothered teens with raging hormones, witnessed tempestuous relationships.

Storms, however, can have a positive side. We’ve heard crowds erupt in thunderous applause. We’ve been struck by flashes of lightning (brainstorms!), showered with gifts, inundated by torrents of happiness. Climatically, storms swirl around an eye — an eye that brings moments of calm and peace amid the turbulence. Spiritually, storms often bring out the best in people — uniting them, arousing feelings of concern, worry, and love for others. When the weather grows bad, people calm one another’s fears, protect each other from harm, help those who need to rebuild, console those who grieve.

Yidden, especially, do well in storms. We usually come out stronger. Not only do we help one another, we also find ways to live al pi halachah, according to Jewish law, under the direst conditions.

We Sisters have experienced our share of storms — of the literal, figurative, and spiritual varieties. And we’ve weathered them in all parts of the world, from Connecticut to Florida to Beit Shemesh. Come in out of the rain while we regale you with our turbulent tales. 

Marcia relives…

Hurricane Hakafos

Boca Raton, Simchas Torah 2005. Men dancing with Torahs beneath swinging skeletons, witches, and ghosts. Kids waving flags, perched atop their fathers’ shoulders, pawing at jack-o-lanterns, bats, and spiderwebs. A man held aloft, singing “Mipi Keil,” the top of his tallis grazing pictures of tombstones. Elderly people in wheelchairs on the sidelines, watching the spectacle, listening to the singing — expressions ranging from disbelief to thrill.


A week and a half earlier. We knew she was coming. Wilma. Pounding across the Yucatan Peninsula, swirling across the Gulf of Mexico toward South Florida. So why were we heading straight toward her?


To be with our kids, of course. Our oldest son and his family had just moved there. A mere hurricane wasn’t going to prevent our spending Succos with them. Besides, it beat staying home and worrying.

Wilma was forecast to hit Boca on Hoshana Rabbah, so we spent the first calm-before-the-storm days dining sumptuously in the fan-cooled succah. On Chol Hamoed, I switched into child-of-survivor mode, stocking up on essentials: drinking water, juice boxes, powdered milk, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, and seven-day yahrtzeit candles. While my family laughed at the crowds hunkering down for the incoming storm, I knew that practical planning does not constitute panic. It’s just facing reality.

Hoshana Rabbah. All night, we listened to raging winds, torrential rain, and ominous crashing noises. In the morning, Boca lost power. Although it was daytime, the house was dark with all the blinds drawn. Without a/c or open windows, we shvitzed. While windows rattled, the men said Hoshanos by candlelight, and the kids colored by flashlight, sipping chocolate milk from those little boxes and gobbling corn niblets from the cans I’d bought.

During the storm’s one-hour eye, we ventured outside — after extricating ourselves from the tree limbs blocking the front door. What a sight! Cars beneath fallen trees. Toys and tricycles strewn everywhere, blown out from no-longer-screened-in porches. Birds caught in gusts, even during the eye — flying backward! (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 542)

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