One recent Friday afternoon I decided to take the streets home from work. There is something very interesting about being a “tourist” in your own borough. Seeing people from 5 cultures in a 3 mile radius. Listening to the train ride above your head as you sit at a red light, hoping nothing falls through your sunroof from the train’s old metal structures. You are amazed at the fact that you can talk on your cell phone (hands-free, of course) and pay no attention to the multiple sounds around you. Are we oblivious or just multi-tasking?
Must be a "New York” thing, you say to yourself and others tell you the same. Or more specifically, is it a "Brooklyn" thing? The “thing” that makes you able to do 10 things at once and with ease, especially on a Friday afternoon heading home from another wild work week. For those in the know, a Friday afternoon drive through Borough Park, Brooklyn will bring with it tons of traffic, huge school buses and large families bustling around in preparation for the Shabbos/Shabbat.
It can take 20 minutes to get from 18th Avenue to 16th Avenue and you better be mindful of the many children running around the block and across the street. There is however,one thing which stands out in my mind and in my nose..hours after I arrive home from BP. Particularly on a fall Friday afternoon, when the early autumn breeze begins to blow, you can sense a distinct smell in the Borough Park air. What is it? Is it Challah baking? Vegetables cooking? Meat? Beans? Sauce? It is all of the above! And combine these aromas with the fall air and you have yourself a fine Cholent Breeze!
This “cholent breeze” always takes me back to childhood, where I spent many shabbos afternoons with my rabbi’s family. We would dip the fresh baked challah into the cholent pot, as not to miss a beat or a bite. Years later, the rebbetzen may have alternated meat for chicken, because she felt it was a little healthier. Any way she served it, it was delicious and special Now, whenever you are driving through traffic, don’t get upset, you will get home. Instead, take the time to smell the roses or the “cholent”..and let it take you back to a special time in your life. It may just bring you renewed meaning and happiness. Or at the very least it will get you very hungry!