In more ways than one.
First of all, the REAL cheese....we had a nice Shavouth, with all the kids at home. As usual, I had to try some new recepies, and as usual, much was left over. Some of it was quite good, but still and all, no one wants to eat too many leftovers.
Shavouth is always a bittersweet day for me. I love the day itself...quiet, relaxed, nice weather (if you live in Israel, anyway, you can always count on it), etc. But 7 years ago, my neighbor and friend, Rachel Ben Zev, passed away on Shavouth after battling a brain tumor for a year-and-a-half. I always remember her most strongly on Shavouth, her yartzeit.
The Ben Zevs were wonderful neighbors. I remember occasions feeling overwhelmed at home with the children when they were young, and completely loosing my cool. At such times, I'd pack the crew together and we'd go over to the Ben Zevs to unwind, just sit in their living room, chat, let the kids play together, and chill. Rachel was the model of someone who was always "up", always displaying an outward composure and pleasure in life and in her family. I try to model myself after her.
I know that their lives weren't easy, but both Avi and Rachel weren't just involved in the community...they RAN much of the community. Both worked hard, full-time, but somehow or other, they found time to run the english children's library, put out the community newsletter, be involved in running the shul, and whatever else needed doing and no one else was around to do it.
One could always ask Rachel to make something for someone who was sick or after childbirth, and never once did she indicate that it wouldn't be possible that week, or that it would be too difficult. Avi, her husband, was "into" computers way before most of the rest of us knew what the darned things were, and he was a cheerful advisor to anyone who needed assistance, even though it meant that he himself didn't get to bed until well after midnight.
When Margalit was born, their daughters would come over to take her out or cuddle her, giving me some much-needed space. And Rachel never spoke a disparaging word about anyone...if someone started to say something about someone, she would cut off any possible turn to gossip by saying "it's so difficult for them" or "yes, it's very complicated".
When Rachel became sick, and the family was moving to Jerusalem to be near good medical care, other neighbors went over to help them pack, but I simply couldn't. Irrational though it was, I felt abandoned.
A yearly shiur is given for Shavouth in the local shul that Avi and Rachel helped to start in Rachel's name, and this year, the theme centered around "motherhood". Nothing could have been more fitting.