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At Home on the Road, Concord “Boys” Enjoy Two-day Jersey Vacation. Personal Choices, Communal Preferences Underscored over Outing

It was 10:00 a.m. the morning of Monday, July 3rd when a Hamaspik of Rockland County SUV departed 68 E. Concord Dr. in the heart of residential Monsey, New York. 

 

In the car were Pinchas, Nachmen, Shmuel and Mendy, accompanied by Hamaspik Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Binyomin Eidlisz and Zvi “Meilich” Weinberger.

 

Destination?  New Jersey—and two days of person-centered R&R, Hamaspik-style.

 

They had planned their vacation weeks in advance, with help from Mrs. Shaindel Goldberger, Manager of Hamaspik’s Concord Briderheim residence for men at the aforementioned address.

 

For the past eight summers, says Mr. Weinberger, the gentlemen had opted to spend their vacations in Massachusetts’ Jiminy Peak region.  But now, a bit tired of the same thing, they wanted something else.  Manager Goldberger promptly provided.

 

With planning executed by Mrs. Goldberger and packing of suitcases and personal effects pulled off by residents, the Hummer-like MV-1 accessibility vehicle was shortly on the Garden State Parkway en route to Lakewood, New Jersey.

 

That Garden State suburb, home to one of America’s largest Orthodox Jewish population centers, is also home to local synagogues catering to every stripe, shade, denomination and custom within that greater community.

 

Lakewood is therefore not just home to a growing Satmar Chasidic community but also to a Satmarer Chasidic shteeble (a Yiddish colloquialism for a small synagogue).

 

It was that shteeble that was the Hamaspik contingent’s first stop in Lakewood—and a destination to which they’d return several times over the next two days for maximum personal comfort and acclimation, all being of Chasidic background themselves.  And shortly after arriving, then, Hamaspik residents and staff joined locals for the afternoon Minchah prayers.

 

By 4:00 that sunny afternoon, the gentlemen found themselves checking into the newly-renovated Days Inn Hotel in nearby Toms River.

 

After unpacking and settling in, a fresh lunch was served, dispensed from large coolers brought along for the trip.

 

The gentlemen then took in the first of the vacation’s string of recreational activities to follow: a reinvigorating stroll along the shores a nearby lake, where they enjoyed the natural sights, sounds and scents of the waterfront.

 

It was time for the nighttime Maariv prayer services by the time that was over, so into the MV-1 they went for a short hop over to the Lakewood shteeble where they felt at home.  Dinner back at the Days Hotel followed, then a well-earned bedtime at 9:00 p.m.  A big day lay ahead.

 

Eight o’clock the next morning was marked by wakeup followed by a round of fresh coffee, yogurt and/or cereal per personal preference.  The “boys” were then off to Shachris morning prayers in Lakewood, followed by breakfast back at the hotel at 10:30.

 

At 12 noon, the Hamaspik contingent was on the road to Forked River, New Jersey—home to Popcorn Park Zoo!  (Yes, you read that right!) 

 

The quizzically-named animal sanctuary is so dubbed for its oodles of free popcorn provided to visitors with which to feed the animals (turns out that popcorn is not the junk food one would think it is, as least for our four-legged friends of the non-human kingdom).

 

In the course of their three-hour visit at Popcorn Park, the gentlemen got to pet horses, llamas and several other domesticated beasts—and feed them lots of popcorn.

 

Having brought plenty of food and snacks with them, the gentlemen not only enjoyed a picnic-table lunch intermission during their stay, but also had plenty of healthy munchies to munch on throughout as well.

 

After a rest-up return to the hotel, where they lounged leisurely in the comfortable lobby for a time, the gentlemen repaired to Lakewood for their shteeble’s 6:00 p.m. Minchah time. 

 

That was followed by an equally leisurely stroll around Lakewood’s streets for a time, basking in the balmy summer-evening weather and the Jewish atmosphere to which the gentlemen are accustomed from Monsey.

 

But besides the day being their first full summer vacation day, it was also the Fourth of July.

 

Following their 8:00 p.m. supper, then, the “boys” were driven down to the local lake by staff to take in that night’s patriotic display of fireworks.  A 10:30 bedtime back at Days capped an exciting day—a day to be followed by another even more exciting.

 

Bright and early at 7:00 a.m., the two Hamaspik DSPs supported the four gentlemen through their morning personal-care routines, followed by snacks and Shachris over in Lakewood.

 

Breakfast back at the hotel wrapped up their two days at Days.  With suitcases packed, the gentlemen checked out at 10:30 a.m. and got en route right away for… Diggerland USA!

 

The popular playground for kids at heart of all ages, located in New Berlin, New Jersey, features a large assortment of real construction machinery and vehicles modified for safe usage by all.

 

From 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the “boys” lived every little boy’s dream—working actual steam shovels, large and small diggers, backhoes and loaders, driving construction carts around tire-marked tracks and getting behind the wheels of real dumper trucks, steam rollers and, of course, tractors.

 

There wasn’t a single attraction at Diggerland that the gentlemen didn’t try and enjoy, according to Mr. Weinberger.  “They didn’t want to leave!” he reports.

 

But leave they regretfully had to at 5:00 p.m., pulling back up to Concord Drive at 7:45. 

 

Everything back home was the same.

 

But because they had just come back from vacation, the gentlemen were different—and in the most rejuvenatedly and otherwise