I would like to begin by wishing all my readers a very Happy Chanukah. I hope you all get the presents that you want, the type of donuts that you enjoy, and the miracles that you have been praying for. The other day, I saw something on Instagram that pointed out that each night of candle lighting is representative of something that you can pray for. Not to be lonely, for a healthy pregnancy, for a good marriage, and, I am assuming, general happiness and good health. It certainly makes candle lighting more meaningful. I hope that all of those things come to fruition for everyone praying for them.
When my boys were younger and still believed in materialism, the candle lighting couldn’t go fast enough before they started tearing open their presents. Isn’t it fiunny how times change? Now one of my sons doesn’t speak for 30 minutes after lighting candles. He just learns. It is beautiful. He still likes getting presents though, but they are usually in the form of a tome/book/sefer/not sports-related…you get the picture. It’s all good because, remember, the alternative is him selling crack to minors. Rest in peace, modern Orthodoxy. Anyway, let’s get to the point of this column.
I had a really nice weekend. Why? You may choose to ask. Did I run over someone whom I don’t like? Did I turn some arrogant individual in to the IRS? Install hidden cameras in someone’s office? No, don’t be ridiculous.
My weekend was so nice because I got to have brunch with two of my favorite people. One, I see a few times a year because she lives only a few bridges away, but the other was a real treat. The other flew in from Atlanta for a wedding. The last time I saw her was at Son #2’s wedding, but we really didn’t get the chance to spend that much time together. This time, I got her for almost two whole hours, and the three of us got to spend time doing what we always do best. Eat. Yes, you knew that was coming. I cannot even imagine how many calories we consumed together in Stern College for Women and Others — thousands? millions? Hundreds of bagel dogs and trips to the bodega across the street for Drakes Cakes and who knows what else. Ahh, good times. I would love to be able to say that I had an amazing metabolism back then and the calories burned right off, but you know me well enough to know that that was never the case. I don’t even think I have a metabolism! And that is okay.
In any event, my friend from Atlanta is a total rock star, and not just because she was a bridesmaid at my wedding and we are still friends all of these years later. She is a rock star because she and her husband founded JScreen. For those of you who don’t know, JScreen is a test that screens for hundreds of Jewish genetic diseases, and they not only call you to tell you the results, but they explain the results to you. For example, one of my sons has a genetic condition that can result in not metabolizing anesthesia properly. But there are also those who find out they are carriers for more serious genetic illnesses.
And why did they start JScreen? Because when they got married and had genetic testing, they (and others like them living in smaller communities) were only tested for a few of the more well-known conditions, and then they had a beautiful little girl who has ML4. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they took action to make sure that no other family would have to go through what they are going through. I know I am not doing them justice, but that is only because I have written about them before, and my friend doesn’t even know that I am writing about her now. And she is simply incredible. (My other friend is too, but even she would agree that no one measures up to Atlantagirl.)
We are all hanging out and talking about this, that and the other, and she is just awesome. She doesn’t complain, she just inspires and amazes me, and I am so grateful that I met her more than 33 years ago.
So let’s now bring this back to the holiday of miracles, and to hoping that all of the research being done for ML4 and other illnesses will bring an end to all of them.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck, on a lighter note, was finally able to shop in the girls section of a toy store, and even though she wanted to buy Strudel a Barbie head so she could help her cut her hair off, Babka knew it was totally inappropriate for many, many reasons.