As The
Strand Turns

My twisted
spaghetti story


The year was 1977. I had just finished my first year of rabbinical school – HUC-JIR’s Year-in-Israel program. After a year of immersion in the land of Israel, I was ready to return home.

My flight was the least expensive I could find, and it took me through Paris, with a 14-hour stopover. What do I do for 14 hours? Having never been to Paris, I knew I had to explore the “City of Lights.”

I landed mid-morning, took the train into the city, and walked around. I walked and I walked and I walked. Eventually, tired and hungry and night descending, I decided I wanted a real Parisian meal in a real Parisian bistro. Walking into to the first place that seem to fit the requirements, I found myself in a small, dark restaurant. The menu was in French only…and not fluent in French, I passed on even looking at it. I told the waiter I was there for just a few hours, said I was vegetarian (it was easier than explaining my specific kashrut requirements), and asked him to bring me the most popular dish that they had. I was ready for a French gastronomic delight.

What I was served was a heaping plate of spaghetti in marina sauce!

“What kind of French dish was this,” I thought? Not wanting to embarrass myself, I thanked the waiter, and asked – finally – to peruse the menu. He brought it over…and – yes, you guessed it – I had walked into an Italian restaurant situated just off the Champs-Élysées. So much for my French gastronomic delight!

spaghettiEver since then, whenever I have had a big bowl of spaghetti, I reminisce on my less-than-successful Paris dining adventure.

However, it also reminds me of another thing that happened during my 14-hour layover in Paris.

Walking out of my Italian restaurant and getting back on the train, I sat next to 8- or 9-year-old girl and her mother, also going to the airport. The girl was fascinated with my English and asked continual questions. When I asked where she was going, she replied, “New York.” When I asked why, her answer surprised me: “My parents know a doctor at a famous hospital in New York and I hope they can find a way to cure me. You, see, I have cancer.” It turns out they were headed to Sloan-Kettering for some experimental treatments. When they learned that I was studying to be a rabbi, the mom asked if I would say a Mi Shebeirach for her daughter. (Yes, it turns out that they were Jewish!)

On Friday, January 22, please join me in bringing these two memories together.

Our fabulous senior youth group, PBnJ, will be joining us in leading our Shabbat Chadash (Erev Shabbat) service, at 6:00 pm. We will feature many of NFTY’s favorite Shabbat tunes, as we hear some inspiring readings as part of our service.

Then, at 7:00, they are hosting a congregation-wide Spaghetti Shabbat Dinner, in our Social Hall. They will be cooking, serving, and cleaning. They are asking for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children for the dinner. (Other donations are also welcome.) All the proceeds benefit Camp Rainbow, a summer camp for children with cancer and other blood-related diseases. (To learn more about Camp Rainbow, CLICK HERE)

camprainbowI never found out what happened to that little girl. But whenever I have a big bowl of spaghetti, I reminisce on her story. And I pray that her life has been long and filled with health and joy.

On Friday, January 22
, we have the opportunity to share Shabbat together as a community, to support our youth in taking a leadership role in prayer and tikkun olam, AND we can guarantee that other children with cancer and blood-related diseases will have a summer of inclusion, support, and joy through our contributions.
So, remember to join us…
Friday, January 22
5:30 pm – Bisseleh Nosh
6:00 pm – Shabbat Chadash
7:00 pm – Spaghetti Shabbat Dinner