Fall is when we make rugelach.
“In honor of Shira’s bat mitzvah!” Grandma Mimi says today.
I lift my spatula in agreement and call out “Hear, hear!” while Sam does the same with his whisk.
My family will take any excuse to bake rugelach. It makes the house smell like fall—butter and chocolate with a hint of cinnamon—and even though no one needs an excuse, it’s tradition to come up with one anyway.
Today, that excuse is my best friend’s bat mitzvah.
“Hannah?” Dad walks into the kitchen half dressed, waving a folded piece of paper. “Mom wants you to write Shira a note in her card before we all sign . . . ooh, chocolate!” He reaches into the bowl of rugelach filling, card forgotten, and—Slap!
“Ow! Miriam!” Dad licks the chocolate from his fingers. “I wanted to taste your arugula!”
Grandma Mimi whisks the bowl of filling off the countertop and points a floury finger toward the door. “On rugelach day, the kitchen is a Jewish space.” She says it all stern, but her eyes are laughing as she talks.
Dad waves his sticky hand at me and Sam. “Then what are they doing in here? They’re not really Jewish!”
“Rude!” calls Sam, and I laugh.
“My grandchildren?” says Grandma Mimi, tugging at her Star of David necklace. “My Hannah? My Sam? With me as their grandmother, they’re as Jewish as they come! Besides, have you seen how they roll rugelach?”
“Yeah, Dad!” I beam at Grandma Mimi and point to my perfectly crafted rugelach crescent. “We’re as Jewish as they come!”
Dad laughs and tries again to reach into the bowl of chocolate filling, but Grandma Mimi pulls it away. “Richard, you’re going to make us late. And you, Hannah?” She turns to me. “Go write a note to your friend. Move!”
Dad goes upstairs to get dressed, and I find a handful of colored pencils in the junk drawer.
Recipe for a She-ra
my #1 sous-chef
the nicest person I know
the Marlin to my Dory
the REAL winner of the sixth-grade Olympics
(no matter what Mr. Pierri Says)
my favorite dance partner
the sister I never knew I needed
and you get one She-ra
(my best friend)
P.S. You are the GOAT. And the sheep. And the cow. Moo.
P.P.S. Remember, if you get nervous, just picture Jeremy Brewer in his underwear.
Then I draw a picture of us. We’re wearing the bat mitzvah dresses we bought together—caramel for her, green for me—and we’re dancing to our favorite song. It’s the one we chose months ago for the first partner dance of her party: “Single Ladies.”
And with that, I hand the card to Sam to sign.
“When I open my own bakery,” he whispers, taking the card out of my hand, “if anyone pronounces it arugula in my presence, I’m pressing charges.”
I laugh. “You better.” Then I return to Grandma Mimi’s side to finish rolling rugelach, my gift to my best friend for her bat mitzvah.