After pulling on my purple Nikes and pushing my bangs out of my eyes for the umpteenth time as I bent to lace them up, I removed my gym bag from the closet and checked my watch. The exercise class began at 8:30, and if I didn’t hurry up I’d miss warm-ups. Grabbing my mother’s car keys and calling out a hasty goodbye, I headed towards the car and began to back out of the driveway. A second later I stepped on the brakes, sensing that I’d forgotten something. Sweatshirt? Check. Sneakers? Check. Water bottle? Check. Cell phone? Aha! Where was that thing? Opening my purse, I rummaged through its pockets and came up empty-handed. Quickly switching gears, I bounded out of the car and ran back inside. “Forgot my phone!” I called out sheepishly to my mother and siblings as I sprinted up the stairs to my room. Spying it on my bed I was about to grab it when it suddenly began to ring. “Hi, Rochel,” I said somewhat breathlessly as I bounded down the stairs for the second time in the past few minutes. Rochel Sommers and I had been roommates in seminary the year before, and despite the fact that I lived in Monsey and she in Flatbush we’d managed to stay in touch, schmoozing often and making the trip across the George Washington Bridge for visits. Both of us had the same busy schedule, working part time and attending school at night, but we’d managed to maintain our close friendship.
Rochel had also listed me on her shidduch résumé, and I’d fielded numerous calls about her since we’d both started in shidduchim the previous June. “Hi, Chavie. What’s up?” she began. “Are you going to be in Flatbush by any chance tomorrow night?” she continued coyly. “Tomorrow?” I repeated. “Um, well I have to work until four as usual, then I have a chemistry exam. Why?”“Well,” Rochel paused and then blurted out excitedly, “I’m having my l’chayim tomorrow!” “What?!” I shrieked before realizing that passers-by were looking at me oddly. I lowered my voice a notch. “Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe this!” I continued. “Wow! To whom?” “Chaim Hershkowitz. From Baltimore.” “That is beyond exciting!” I said. “This Mr. Hershkowitz had better realize what an amazing girl he’s getting.” “Thanks,” she replied. “Listen, Chavie, I have to hang up because I still have lots of phone calls to make. I guess you can’t make it to the l’chayim, but the official vort is on Sunday night, so you’d better be there!” “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I assured her before unlocking the door and jumping into the driver’s seat. Rochel’s vort proved to be both a celebration of her engagement and a reunion of friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages, some of us since our plane touched down at Kennedy Airport almost a year before. Entering the hall timidly, I balanced on the high heels I’d purchased just the week before, wincing slightly as the back of the shoe dug into my foot. Making a mental note to put a Band-Aid on when I got home, I noticed a group of my seminary friends clustered around the salad bar. “Hi, Shira!” I called out to the girl who’d roomed down the hall from me for ten months. “I’m so glad Rochel got engaged. Otherwise, I’d never get to see you!” “Yes. I’m having so much fun!” she agreed. “How’s Monsey? How’s the teaching job going?” I launched into a description of the antics of my fourth graders when I suddenly spotted Kayla entering the room.
Kayla was the third girl in our dorm room, and while I’d been closer to Rochel, Kayla was also my friend. She’d gotten engaged a few short weeks after we returned to America and was now sporting an elegant diamond ring, pearl necklace and perfectly coiffed sheitel. “How’s Lakewood treating you?” I asked her as I helped myself to some mangoes and strawberries. “Baruch Hashem, really well,” she replied. “I’m teaching seventh grade, and I just love it!” I smiled, happy to hear that she was adjusting well. Kayla had been a great roommate, and we really hadn’t been in touch since she’d gotten married. At that moment I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see none other than the kallah herself, hair and makeup professionally done and bedecked in a sparkling diamond bracelet and ring. “Rochel!” I almost shouted as I planted a kiss on her cheek. “You look amazing!” “Thanks!” she replied glowingly as she grabbed my arm. “Come with me. I want to introduce you to my future mother-inlaw,” she said as she led me over towards the mechitzah. “Ma,” Rochel said to Mrs. Hershkowitz, “I want you to meet my good friend, Chavie Weinberg. We were roommates in seminary.” “Nice to meet you,” Mrs. Hershkowitz responded graciously. At that moment the door opened and an older woman walked in. “It’s my Tanta Enya! I can’t believe she came all the way from Cleveland,” Rochel exclaimed, spying her aunt. “I’ll be right back,” she apologized to us as she rushed towards her. Mrs. Hershkowitz turned to me politely. “So you’re Rochel’s roommate?” “Yes.” “I think I called you for information a few weeks ago.” “That’s definitely a possibility,” I responded. “I’ve gotten so many calls about Rochel.” “I remember I’d heard so many nice things, but when I spoke to you, you really sold me on the shidduch.” “Really?” “Yes. Right after we hung up I called the shadchan and gave her the go-ahead,” she told me with a smile. “May I ask you something?” I said to her, suddenly curious.
“What was it that I said that convinced you?” “I remember it exactly. You told me that when you went for an interview for a prospective teaching job, Rochel had left you a platter of rugelach on your bed with a note wishing you good luck.” “Oh, yes, I remember that. It was so nice of her,” I said. “When I heard that, I thought to myself, What a sweet girl. She’d be great for my son.” “Glad to have been of help,” I said, wishing her a mazal tov before heading back to my friends. After nearly an hour’s worth of schmoozing, noshing on fruit and guiltily sneaking some cake, I realized that it was getting late. I had to get going if I wanted to catch my ride back to Monsey. At that point the crowd was beginning to thin out, so I went over to say goodbye to Rochel before leaving. “This is so exciting!” I said to her. “I can’t believe you’re really getting married!” “Neither can I!” she replied with a giggle. “I just want you to know,” I continued, “that it was those rugelach that really nailed this shidduch.” “Rugelach?” Rochel repeated with a puzzled expression. “What rugelach?” “You know. Remember when I went for an interview in seminary? Rebbetzin Kagan from Bais Yaakov was interviewing girls for teaching jobs, and you left me a plate of rugelach on my bed with a good luck note.” “Oh, Chavie!” Rochel exclaimed with a laugh. “That wasn’t me, it was Kayla!”