"O kay, people, chicken steak,” my sister Nechama announces. “Oh my gosh, I have to text Yossi. He’ll totally crack up. Like, hello, please call pounded chicken on the bone steak.”

We all laugh and eagerly attack the food. This part of the Anshei Chesed dinner is great. If only we could disappear before the speeches begin. Sitting next to Nechama, my eyes follow her fingers as they type. Enjoy the “steak” lol. Maybe smarter not to become fleishig and we’ll share that sinful mochaccino thingie again.

Under the table, my thumb massages my own phone screen. The last time Mendy and I shared a mochaccino thingie was, um… when?

“Hey,” Malkie says, nudging me. She shovels her stir-fry onto my plate. I wink, hand her my blueberry muffin in exchange, and we high-five. Nothing beats sisters.

Nechama’s phone buzzes. I watch her face break into a grin, and then she’s tapping away on her screen again, her mouth hanging open in that stupid, spacey shanah-rishonah smile.

Holding my phone in my lap, I unlock it and go to my messages. Mendy. Can u pick up my shoes from shoe repair? Another one, Running in to wedding to say mazel tov, will be home a bit late. I continue scrolling through our chat history. A bunch of technical messages. Reminders, questions, quick favors. There isn’t one warm or funny message, nothing bonding, not a single sentence that invites a smile.

My sisters yak away, about the hurricane, the sale in Macy’s, if fish sauce jelling powder is or isn’t made from fish bones. Sheva suddenly scrapes back her chair.

“Where are you going?” Malkie asks.

“To the mechitzah. Anshi texted me to meet him there.”

She returns a few minutes later bearing a dessert plate; Napoleon with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. “Just a dare,” she says, chuckling. “Anshi swore he wouldn’t touch dessert — he’s on Tanya’s diet for three months now. So we made a deal that I’ll eat it for him.”

More laughter, and then, predictably, the discussion shifts to diets. Nechama is glued to her phone again, and when Sheva finishes eating, she snaps a picture of her empty plate and types out a message. I can’t read her screen from across the table, but I picture the message clearly. Had you in mind!!! And probably a bunch of heart and smiley emoji.

And Sheva is 14 years past shanah rishonah.

Something crackles in my chest. I squeeze my phone under the table, breathe deeply, sip water. Nothing helps. The fury rises, hissing, and suddenly, fireworks explode in my throat. “This is ridiculous!” I thunder. “We get together for one night out, and you guys are like not even here. If you prefer to text all night, why did you even come?”

I know I should be looking down and blushing furiously, but instead my eyes shoot sparks at Nechama, then at Sheva.

“Whoa, chill,” Nechama hoots.

“Yeah, what got into you?” Malkie says. “Getting all frummie on us and stopping to text?”

“I’m not stopping to text!” I fume. “But when I go out with my sisters, I thought it would be nice to spend time with them. Not with my phone.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 569)