Getting Stuck inside the Shul in Meah Shearim

Getting Stuck inside the Shul in Meah Shearim

This past Shabbat morning, after all the women had filed out of the shul I often attend in Meah Shearim, I decided to stay on a bit longer. I watched the Rebbe nodding goodbye to a few hundred of his Chassidim as they passed by him with the teensiest bow. Then I had a conversation with Hashem for a few minutes.

I was having, like, the awesomest time and crying from the spiritual high and thinking how I wanted to stay late like this every Shabbat when I headed down the stairs and for the exit and realized it wouldn’t budge. I’m claustrophobic, so getting locked in anywhere is one of my worst nightmares. And there I was…locked inside the women’s entrance to the shul.


Right next to me was another door leading to the dining room where about a hundred of the unmarried Chassidim were about to eat lunch. This is too embarrassing, I thought. I am NOT going to make a fool of myself and start banging on this window…But then I realized that my claustrophobia was even stronger than my pride, and I started banging. The Chassidim, I soon realized, were waiting to say the blessing over bread, so a few of them just looked over at me with blank looks for a minute or two.

And this is what I thought of:

Dustin Hoffman interrupting Elaine's wedding in the final scene of The Graduate.

Dustin Hoffman banging on the window to interrupt Elaine’s wedding in the final scene of The Graduate.

In the end, one of the Chassidim came down the stairs to help me. And he opened the door with one hard push.

I was feeding my kids after they came home from school when I heard the following words, “Shalom, you have reached United Hatzala. If you would like to order an ambulance, please press one…”

I ran over and found my 13-month-old Yaakov holding the phone and saying his favorite word over and over “Abba! Abba! Abba!”

Somehow Yaakov had managed to:

1. Turn on the phone.
2. Turn on the phone’s speaker.
3. Dial 1
4. Dial 2
5. Dial 2
6. Dial 1

And this is what I thought of:
curious george
An older sister reported that my 1st grader Yoel had been misbehaving with a friend on the bus home from school. He’d been misbehaving so badly, in fact, that the driver had announced over his loudspeaker, “Children! This is not a playground!”

This warranted a stern conversation between Yoel and his father later that afternoon:

Father: Yoel, I heard that the driver yelled at you on the bus for misbehaving.
Yoel: No, Abba, that is absolutely incorrect.
Father: What do you mean?
Yoel: The driver did not yell at us for misbehaving. All he did was yell “This is not a playground!” And that is completely true. It is NOT a playground. We were playing on the bus.

When I overheard this conversation this is what I thought of:

And then Yoel turned from his Gemara-teaching father’s mind to his fatherly heartsrings…”And Abba, what do they want from me? I’m not allowed to misbehave in school. I’m not allowed to misbehave at home. If i don’t misbehave on the bus, where will I misbehave?!”



  1. thank for the great laugh today, chana jenny!!
    it always amazes me how different parts of my life keep popping in and engaging in the present…

  2. absolutely delightful!

  3. This was a very funy, touching post. Thank you!

  4. LOLL That was simply precious. Great laugh! Great kid! Dash to the whole family.

  5. Tanya Chana

    Superb Chana Jenny. Just the light relief I needed at the end of the day.x

  6. Bracha Goetz


  7. Larry Lennhoff

    Yoel should find a time that is neither day nor night. He can misbehave them.

  8. Adorable! But I’m on the edge of my chair…. How did you respond?
    I’ve heard theories that if you were to hear him out and schedule in some ” special crazy time” it would help you considerably….
    Hey, let me know; I never had the guts to try it out myself (on my own “shovav” bunch’o’boys, too many of them!)

    • I think josh just laughed. Didn’t occur to me to schedule in shovav time– please explain what this is if you know. I’m fascinated:)

      • I read once that if a child is being a little wild, then a parent might say something like: I see you really love banging your trucks against the wall, but it breaks the wall, so lets think of ways you can bang your trucks in a way that mommy can let….” Or drawing on walls, or yelling, or running around the house…. (I just bought special quiet bimbas only for inside for my three boy munchkins 4,3,1.5)

        There could be a scheduled time where Yoel gets to let it all out in a way that’s acceptable to you, as a reaction to his comment, like: it’s true you can’t be naughty at home, but maybe we can have a fun crazy five minutes just for yoel? and go over some ideas with him….maybe the other kids join in. I think its supposed to get it out of the system, it becomes acceptable so less desirable maybe…
        I’m no expert, maybe someone else can back this up with better tips….

  9. I sort of understand Josh.
    He takes things LITERALLY.
    When someone yells, “This is not a playground!” he agrees. But that does not tell him directly and concretely to stop his behavior.
    I was that way too.
    Concrete. Literal. Whatever was said by an authority figure was turned over in my mind, dissected, analyzed, and then I put it away if it didn’t require a reaction. That is what Josh does too.
    I still remember on my first day in Bais Rivkah (large girls’ high school in Crown Hts), coming from a very small dayschool in Mass., the principal said, “Give a push the chair in back of you against the wall.”
    I immediately wrote down her words and analyzed them for the rest of the morning. Why would she speak this way? What did it mean? Was it English?
    Josh hears what is said, no more.

  10. I loved BR and one of the reasons was the new language. The combination of Yiddish and English was fascinating and beautiful to me. But I am sure I missed a lot of instructions…

  11. great post. Though I never saw that movie so I missed the frame of reference. Curious George is right on target. People’s babies call us by accident since we may be one of their first contacts (our last name is ABER) much safer than accidentally ringing the emergency numbers.
    I think a mini trampoline is a good way to get out excess energy. (better than jumping on beds or from bunk beds to floor!)

  12. sheva lazaros

    perfect. touching. made me laugh out loud and sniff back tears at the same time.
    and the accompanying photos? don’t get me started. they were the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.
    “acchh”… though our kids are grown and on their own, i think you are the only person who makes me want to do it all over.

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