Drip, drip, drip. I cocoon in my blanket, trying to ignore the leak, my sweet and very cuddly daughter cocooned next to me. We curl towards each other for warmth. So the night passes.
We knew there would be kinks to work out in our Shabbat RV, but I don’t think any of us expected water leaks and heat issues. It seemed like one thing after another went wrong. The electrical hookup we’d planned on using didn’t work when we connected it before Shabbat began, so we were left running on battery power. This meant that the refridgerator also didn’t work, but happily it was cold enough out we could just leave our food in an outside compartment to stay cold. It did mean no crockpot or plata (hot plate), so no hot food. We made merry despite it all, singing Shalom Aleichem by the light of the Shabbat candles and eating fresh challah and brownies.
The night wore on us all, though. The CO2 (carbon monoxide) sensor kept going off. It seemed a false positive, but we didn’t want to risk it, so we used as little heat as we could. The temperatures hovered near freezing and we cuddled for warmth. When the shul opened, we excitedly went inside, hoping for hot coffee, but the coffee urn had broken. Still, it was warm and that was definitely something. I worked to stay awake through davening. The kids were happy to see their friends. We were slow to return to the 22 feet of damp cold of the RV, but we did and played games and napped until havdalah. Seudah Shlishit had been cold food, but tasty.
We learned what needs to be fixed to make things better and we learned how we could have planned a little better, too. We also learned to be more grateful for what we do have. Warmth isn’t something to be taken for granted. As we huddled for warmth, we talked about how people kept Shabbat long ago, when there weren’t furnaces that kicked on without interaction. We talked about how many of the conveniences modern Jews enjoy didn’t always exist and what Shabbat might have been like then. It’s easy for us to start to think it’s a real sacrifice to unplug for 25 hours from our electronic lives, but it’s tough to imagine running out of heat from the fire during a cold winter Shabbat in the Ukraine.
Mostly, I was proud of the kids for always looking for the bright side and being so resilient in the face of challenging circumstances. We ended the Shabbat with the same joy we brought it in, singing once again and the glow of candlelight. The next Shabbat will find us warmer and dryer. We’re planning to stay home this week so that we can concentrate more on Passover prep before and save up our fortitude for spending the upcoming Yom Tovs back in our small Shabbat RV.