R ivky Reimer turned on the light on the tiny porch and headed back into the bungalow. This was the second night in a row that Chaim had told her not to wait up.
He’d become hoarse and she thought he might have a slight fever. Last night he’d judged the cheers and spent the night roaming the grounds peeking in on the artists and songwriters reveling in the charged atmosphere. At one o’clock he’d a found an ice cream store in Woodridge that would prepare 50 iced coffees with whipped cream. He’d driven to pick them up and gone around giving them out to the exhausted exuberant staff members.
Today had been even busier. Neos Deshe tradition was that Hershel Levinsky would umpire the big staff baseball game on the last day of color war. This year the old man had thrown out the first pitch to boisterous applause but Chaim had filled in as umpire. Only Rivky knew how nervous he’d been.
Before supper she’d joined him as the artwork was presented. She watched his serious expression as he studied the two banners and huddled with the other judges. She remembered how once when he had a day off from work and the kids were in school she’d taken him to the city to see an art exhibit. He’d cracked a joke about how she was going through a sophisticated phase and hadn’t even made a pretense of being interested.
In front of several well-heeled fellow museum visitors he’d stood before an abstract impressionist masterpiece and said “Oh look the famous Unfinished Scrambled Eggs on the Sidewalk painting.”
Now he leaned over to ask her if she’d noticed the tiny chuppah etched in the sky above the shining sun on the Shemesh banner. “You know the pasuk says the sun’s radiance is like a chassan marching forward from his chuppah. There is a lot of depth here.”
She nodded. Okay then.
“YOU SURE you want to do that?” Shira Reimer said confused. “You’ve been planning this trip forever.”
“Yah I know but we can leave Thursday morning. I feel like I want to be in camp for the grand sing.”
“Fine ” Shira said shrugging.
“You know Chana Leeba can darshan all she wants about my father’s midlife crisis but she’s just talking. I know how emotional it will be. My father’s never been to a grand sing. My grandfather always speaks before the kids sing the camp song the alma mater… the kids are crying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like this year when the boys actually love camp.”
“WHAT’S THE POINT of the organization the goal of Zichron Asher?” Mendy Colman asked.
Barry Penner was annoyed with himself for having taken the call. He thought they’d moved past this already.
“The organization was founded to help unfortunate needy Jews in any way possible. We try to stay faithful to that mandate. Baruch Hashem we’ve given out close to $1 million this year and we’re not done. We have a pile of requests to the sky.”
“So for example a new mother with no clothing for the baby that sort of thing?” Colman asked.
Penner softened. Maybe Colman wanted to actually help. “Yes of course that too but much bigger things.”
“Oh for sure. We have a special mechanchim fund another for almanos. So many suffering people lo aleinu ” he sighed.
“Incredible. What about a family whose home is being seized?”
“Oy Reb Mendy I could write a book about those cases. We step in all the time.”
“Wow so you really try to help everyone kol hakavod.”
“Yes ” Penner said nodding in the solitude of his car. “That’s what it’s about.”
“So l’mashal what about 200 boys who don’t come from wealthy homes? You know plain families no big privileges. Their big break from regular life is camp. And imagine you have a guy who wants to buy it and keep it a camp davka for those kids. That’s kind of helping needy and unfortunate Jews too isn’t it Barry?”
Colman hung up and Penner kept the phone to his ear longer than necessary listening to the silence. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Issue 666)
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