1st Candle: We play for our absolute favorite senior citizens home EVER—we are regulars there, but there must have been some new residents.
I play my violin and sing my little Yiddish heart out. After the show an older lady comes up to complain to Sruli. He shleps me over. Lisa—this lady said you didn’t sing any Yiddish songs. Why don’t you sing a Yiddish song especially for her? She looks at us. “I don’t like Yiddish songs.” We stop. How about a Hebrew song? So I sing BaShana Haba’ah right there, just for her. “BaShana Haba’ah? Next year?” she says. “I need luck THIS year!”
A few minutes later an older man came over to complain that I didn’t play the violin.
Afterwards I crisscross the GWB twice in one horrifically trafficky hour to pick up babies and make it back to Family Chanukah party. Meantime
Sruli has a supervised (yes) visit with 16 year old daughter who tells him:
“she steals you from me, doesn’t let me speak to you for over four years even on the phone, lies to the judge, threatens me daily, fights with me physically, and now my mother gives me a new laptop for Chanukah and tells me I should love her.” The supervisor gives them an extra 10 minutes and they light Chanukah candles in the car-- together for the first time in 5 years.
3rd Candle: We play for the fanciest elementary school—Hogwarts in Long Island. My big boys come home for the night (Oy I am dreying from delight) and together we light-- as 20 month old Charlie Re say-- the “Chammika Candles.”
4th Candle: We play for an old shul with a new Rabbi and brand-new Cantor—5 blocks from where I grew up. It’s now a chulent of ethnicities, ages, and everything else—tough to make EVERYONE happy—but I must admit we rock the house. At the very end we sit on the in the middle of the dance floor with the remaining 10 kids skooched around us and play accordion and violin and sing. It was Sruli’s idea and it was magical.
5th Candle: We perform the service for a church in Englewood. Verrrrrrrrry loooooooong and sloooooooow Hasidic nigunim. You could hear a pin drop—just like back at the Young Israel of Scarsdale. Haha.
And I get to hear the word “chalice.”
6th Candle: We have sequential dentist’s appointments. My one and only filling (from when I was 12! Impressed?) is replaced with fancy white stuff. Afterwards, I go to the gym, drooling from one side of my numb mouth. Can’t eat, good for the diet.
7th Candle: My favorite: We play for a fancy synagogue in Queens—big Chanukah party. After the concert a woman comes up to me: “Oh! You were soooooooooo wonderful! But—there’s no toilet paper in the ladies room.” I tell her I will see what I can do.
8th Candle: We play our traditional Chanukah Concert for a senior residence in Westchester. Our big band includes “my son, the Baritone Sax player” poopoopoo, and his adorable friend the drummer. Zachary does a jazz version of Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn that leaves me crying with admiration and love. The residents eat him up. Seeing the juxtaposition of my physical future (decrepit and wheelchair bound) and my real future-- my strong and handsome and talented son (poopoopoo again) leaves me crying again—a Life is Beautiful moment that only a parent can have. I plow through my recently adopted atheism and thank God.
The last day of Chanukah we play for yet another senior residence and manage to make many people happy. I am truly happy—and not only because I have 2 days off before our next concert. That night in a lame-o attempt at girlish cuteness I up-end myself onto the sofa where Sruli is splayed—we had been flirting—and despite a week of latkes and fried everything and only one gym—the sofa stays totally put.
Now THAT’S a Chanukah miracle.