Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Senior Trip - Day One

You might be wondering why Avram and I went on a trip with a group consisting largely of senior citizens.

The answer is many-fold. To begin with, in my neighborhood there are precious few group activities in which married couples can participate without the utter separation of the sexes. For some reason, senior citizens get a "pass" on these restrictions. I guess they feel that they are too old to "get into trouble" anyway.

Secondly, Avram was dying to go to Tanglewood. Thirdly, I was dying to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum. Lucky for us, we don't think of aging as a contagious disease....

We started our journey on Sunday and I was thrilled to discover that the bus had an internet connection (who me? addicted??). Our first stop was a surprise (only to me) stop at an outlet mall.

Getting off the bus each time reminded me of what happens when one's plane taxis to a stop at the gate - hurry up and wait - much fussing with the overhead compartments, punctuated with a bit of marital bickering ("What? What do you need to take along your NEWSPAPER for?") while everybody stands impatiently for an interminable amount of time wondering what exactly is going on up front that the line isn't moving one inch.

It was after we all emptied our wallets to the nice outlet employees and sat down for lunch that I got my first inkling that I was on a senior trip. Along with the beautifully packed lunch bags (sandwiches, drinks, danishes, fruit cups, salad containers, chips, wafers and bananas) emerged an assortment of pill boxes in a spectrum of colors. Yes, yes, I know one of them was Avram's.... shhhhh!

Shortly thereafter, following a scenic ride through the Berkshire Mountains and some quaint towns (antique shops and homes with lovely wrap-around porches) we arrived at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Upon entering the park gates we were greeted by kaleidoscope of beach umbrellas peppering the lawns. A convivial picnic atmosphere preceded the concert, but the moment the music swelled, you could have heard a pin drop (NOT my experience at similar concerts in New York's Central Park). We were seated by kindly volunteer ushers, in the fourth row of the main shed and prepared to enjoy a stellar program. There is an indescribable feeling of calm that overcomes you when listening to a Beethoven violin concerto in a verdant outdoor setting with the breeze gently rustling the leaves in the trees and lifting the hair off the back of your neck. The feeling stays with you the rest of the day.

When the concert ended, we made our way to Albany, where we were scheduled to have dinner and spend the night. (Another nice thing about my neighborhood's senior trips is that accommodations and amenities are always beyond top notch)

Dinner was pre-arranged at the Shabbos House, an amazing enterprise run by Rabbi Mendel & Raizy Rubin, serving the Jewish student population of SUNY Albany. In addition to all their amazing contributions to Jewish life all week long, the Rubins feed Shabbos meals to in the vicinity of 150 college students, running the spectrum from being raised in observant homes to those with barely any Jewish identity at all. Their seasonal newsletter entitled, "What's Cooking? at Shabbos House", reminded me of the title of this blog - only the Rubins raise it to a whole new level.

The Rubins served us as dear guests, with cloth tablecloths, beautiful table settings, fresh flowers on every table and warm smiles & delicious food. When Rebbetzin Rubin discovered that a couple in our group were celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary, they put sparkling grape juice in the freezer and even managed to BAKE AND DECORATE a cake in their honor, in time for dessert!! I can easily see why they see so much success from their kiruv efforts.

All in all a relaxing and enjoyable first day. Stay tuned for Day Two.....


S M said...

Any relation to the great Berkshire Bank?

efrex said...

Lucky for us, we don't think of aging as a contagious disease....
Oh, it is, but you only catch it from young people :)

Upstate New York has some incredibly beautiful areas geographically, and some obscenely dedicated arts communities (I'm serious: these guys make me look like a dilettante - there's a small cabaret theater in Rochester which routinely attracts A-list talent for its productions, primarily because its artistic director mercilessly hounds these people into shlepping out to his space).

To begin with, in my neighborhood there are precious few group activities in which married couples can participate without the utter separation of the sexes.

Not to make too much ado about a side point, but please realize that this is not remotely true. There might be precious few such activities sponsored or approved of by a particular neighborhood organization, but that is not at all the same thing. Our neighborhood has dozens of activities where marrieds and singles don't have to be gender-separated: lectures given by local scholars, theatrical and musical performances, social events, community service/volunteer opportunities... if you want it, it's probably out there three or four times over. Even if you're just limiting yourself to the frum community, there are many such activities.