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may / june 2007:

Answer Maven

By Chanie Cohen-Kirschner

Q: I heard that itís a custom to stay up all night and study Torah on the festival of Shavuot ó which Iíve never heard about, and frankly think is kind of strange. I have two questions for you (is that allowed?): First, have you got any tips for me on how to keep myself awake this year? And second, are there any other strange holiday customs that I donít know about?

Of course itís ok to ask two questions. Not only do I welcome it, I encourage it (more questions = more money. I get paid by the word. Tomato.).

To answer your second question first (I like to keep my readers on their toes), considering you didnít know about this particular custom of staying up all night on Shavuot, thereís probably a lot of customs you havenít heard of. For instance, giving presents on the holiday on Chanukah (speaking of which, I still havenít gotten mine). And then thereís the custom of egging your neighborís house the on the eve of Passover ó please donít tell me you havenít heard of that.

Now as far as Shavuot is concerned, staying up all night is an easy task if youíve got plenty of pizza, soda, and Jerry Springer reruns to keep you busy. But if youíre in the synagogue studying ó well, not so much. Itís hard enough to stay awake in synagogue during normal waking hours.

If you want my advice (and I think you do, otherwise you wouldnít have written in the first place) a few hundred cups of coffee should do the trick. That, and a copy of US Weekly inconspicuously hidden behind your Talmud.

Q: For the first time, Iím keeping my kids home instead of sending them to summer camp because itís just gotten too expensive. (When six weeks of camp costs more than a car, thereís a problem). I just have one small problem: What the heck am I going to do with them at home for two months?

Relax, Iím a pro at figuring out how to spend an idle day stuck at home. It seems like your priority is saving money, right? (Vigorously nod your head now and be awed at my incredible perceptibility.) Lucky for you, Father Maven was a pro at saving money while entertaining us youngíins when we were growing up. I remember it like it was yesterday (cue blurry montage)...

Every Sunday, we would clamber into the blue station wagon (the one with the fabric stapled to the top of the ceiling) and spend the day doing something that required absolutely no moola. One Sunday would be a scavenger hunt at the mall (find someone with the initials A.K. to sign a napkin ó that one kept us busy for hours) and another Sunday would be spent test-driving cars at a local car dealership (if we were lucky, we would go to four or five in a day). Needless to say, we never bought the cars my daddy drove, but we had oodles of fun making the salesmen think we might.

If youíre really desperate, why not host your own version of Survivor right in your backyard. Lock the kids out and give them interesting tasks to complete. Or maybe rent them out to your friends and neighbors for the day and split the cash with your kids (60/40 of course). With a little creativity and a lot of time in the produce section of your grocery store having cantaloupe races, your summer will be gone in no time.

Q: Help! I accidentally booked a ticket home for May 28th instead of April 28th and now Iím stuck in the airport* until I figure this mess out. What should I do?

Umm, considering itís been about a month since you wrote this, I would assume by now youíre out of the airport and your little crisis is safely behind you. But on the off chance youíre actually still in the airport terminal, I beg you to follow these simple instructions:

Put your copy of AJL down (preferably where someone else can see this issueís striking cover. Wait Ö how did you get your issue in the airport anyway?)

Go to the nearest ticket counter.

Buy a new ticket.


If by some off chance youíve found your way home, and youíre reading this issue of AJL from the comfort of your living room (who are we kidding ó the bathroom), then follow these simple instructions: put the magazine down, go get a calendar (you know ó the thing with the little boxes that tells you the date and day of the week it is), and check with this handy dandy tool before booking your next vacation.

*This scenario is based on a true story. Iím not going to tell you about whom, lest I embarrass the petite pretty blonde it happened to. Suffice it to say, it was a very traumatizing experience, and Iím happy to be back with the friends, family, and fans who love me.

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