Frimet Goldberger’s children, Shloimy, age 9 and Rachel, age 7.
While the daughters and sons of America are celebrating their fathers, I am spending my Father’s Day celebrating my husband, the man who raised us — our family — and stood by me through the tumultuous journey to help me build a new foundation from the ground up.
My husband, for those of you who don’t know him, is an unlikely match for a woman like me. Where I am loud and willing to share deeply-personal stories, he is a fiercely private man who loathes publicity. (He asked not to have a photo of him appear with this blog post.) Where I am the gregarious half interested in meeting others, he is the homebody who prefers to spend time with his loved ones.
One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, after we had returned from our Passover getaway in Orlando, we had a family weigh-in in the master bedroom of our rented ranch. After all the matzos and steak and gooey potato starch and almond meal based cookies we consumed, the digital scale was guaranteed to be unpleasantly surprised. No, I will not divulge the very personal and mortifyingly high number that appeared on the little screen when it was my turn, but I will say that I immediately dusted off the pitiful juicer tucked away in the kitchen and made a resolution to work out at least five days a week.
Frimet Goldberger’s children enjoy their recent family road trip. She admits being happy to get out of the driver’s seat for good.
Road-tripping is one of those overly romanticized activities we read about and want to — no, positively have to — add to our bucket lists. Get in a car — instant Kerouac. Or so we romanticize.
Mark Twain wrote in “Tom Sawyer Abroad”: “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” To which I add, “For 18 hours, cooped up in a mid-size car with children asking, ‘Are we there yet?’ while the driver mindlessly eats chocolate and chips and bangs her head on the steering wheel to keep awake.”
Getty Images // Families in Kiryas Joel
Recently, while sitting at a relative’s wedding in Kiryas Joel and picking at the soggy stuffing under the skin of the chicken thigh and listening to the gossip around me, I had an epiphany: I really, badly miss Kiryas Joel.
So, when I got home and kicked off my heels, I took to the Forward website and quickly, before I had any regrets, compiled a list of comments from my articles that prophesied this moment — the moment of guilt and nostalgia for a place that birthed me and gave me boundless love, affection and freedom.
Female friendships are difficult to understand. The bonds that women forge — the really close friendships — are almost invincible. Although I hesitate at stereotyping female friendships, I nevertheless believe some of the stereotypes to be true.
Maybe it’s because I have recently realized that my daughter is treating her friendships differently than my son is, and that to her, finding new friends and forming strong bonds with them is an important process. Or maybe it’s because my own process of finding and maintaining friendships has evolved lately, that I find myself contemplating the connection with the women in my life often.
While attending a major Las Vegas tech conference for work a couple of years ago, I found myself following a Hasidic couple around the convention center. Their presence at the tradeshow was not completely shocking — many religious Jews work in consumer electronics sales (just look behind the counter at B&H in New York City — but I was delighted to catch a glimpse of them. We made our way slowly through the tightly packed throng gawking at the gargantuan Intel Booth — they, making casual conversation about operating systems in Yiddish, and I eavesdropping gleefully from a few paces behind. The wife doubled back for a moment and bumped into me. “Anshuldik mir,” I squeaked. Excuse me. The look of utter surprise on her face stayed with me for weeks.
Some of my cousins happen to live in a town in Orange County, NY, adjacent to the Satmar Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel. Whenever I stay with my (completely non-religious) cousins, I feel compelled to pay a visit to the small shopping center in Kiryas Joel. I get a thrill from the supermarket, with its Yiddish signage and patrons shopping for Cholent ingredients (packaged meat is even labeled exclusively for this purpose). I stop to browse through the rack of Yiddish children’s books outside the clothing store (only children would read for pleasure in Yiddish in this community). I can’t overstay my welcome; tourism isn’t exactly encouraged in Kiryas Joel.