The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 40

February 10, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 40 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

When Binyamin walked into the house with his bag of laundry on Motza’ei Shabbos, he was greeted with upbeat music.

“Sorry,” he said with a tired smile. “I thought this was my house.”

“It’s always happy here!” his sister Chani said, waiting ready with her camera.

“But there isn’t usually so much noise here. Can you lower the music a little?”

Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simchah!” five-and-a-half-year-old Shloimy said knowingly. “And besides, don’t you know we’re moving? Right after Purim!”

“He knows,” Esty said.

“I know,” Binyamin said at the exact same time. He sat down on a chair. “Of course I know!”

“Oh, so Abba and Ima told you?” Four-year-old Bentzy nodded understandingly.

Binyamin laughed. “And if they wouldn’t have told me, my friends would have updated me. Almost all of Bnei Brak knows about it!”

“Yes, and it’s a little…uncomfortable to be the subject of people’s stories…” Devorah spoke up. “Do you feel that way, too?”

“There certainly is something to what you’re saying.” Binyamin rested a hand on his forehead and raised his eyes to his sister. “Can’t you lower that music? My head is really aching.”

Chani and Esty studied him.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 39

February 3, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 39 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“What are you doing here, Miri?” The two sisters bumped into each other at the corner of Nechemia and Chazon Ish streets.
“I went with Abba and Ima to see their apartment, and then I used the chance to do a few errands in this area.”

“How nice!” Tzippy chirped. “Now you can come over to me!”

Miri didn’t object. She hadn’t visited her sister since the wedding.

“But I have nothing special to serve you, just a little bit of cake left over from Shabbos.”

“Please, I’m not coming to eat!” They walked into the building, and Miri took Shmully out of the carriage. “You don’t need to feel pressured because of me.”

“That’s what you say,” Tzippy said in a low voice, and started to climb the stairs. Miri stared at her for a long moment, and then followed her sister, with her baby in her arms.

“So, how’s their apartment?” Tzippy asked as she turned the key in the lock.

“It’s really nice. Huge.” Miri took a deep breath. “You can see that it was designed as a very fancy place: the paint job, the moldings, gorgeous light fixtures in the whole house—including a chandelier in the dining room and a really nice piece in the dinette—and marble or ceramic floors; I don’t know the difference. The whole house has a very modern, shiny look, if you know what I mean. I wonder how it will look like with Abba and Ima’s furniture. Actually, the dining room has a bookcase built in, made of plasterwork, I think, so they don’t need to bring their old one along.”

“There are already light fixtures and a bookcase installed?”

“I don’t know if it’s actually a bookcase, but what else do you call a piece of furniture in the dining room that has lots of shelves?” Miri tittered. “I think we automatically assume it’s for sefarim; I don’t know what the original plan for it was. Maybe it’s just meant for knickknacks.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 38

January 27, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 38 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“You look very cheerful today, Reb Yisrael! What happened? Did your granddaughter come visit with her baby again?”

Elisheva’s father smiled and shook his head. No.

“So, what is it?” Reb Zundel Kravin hung his cane on the back of his chair and sat down at the table. “They’ve given us these heavy pitchers again. I’m telling you, it’s like a hotel here, but if I can’t serve myself and lift this heavy glass pitcher, why do I need all this elegance?”

“I’ll pour for you, Reb Zundel.” Emmanuel suddenly appeared behind them. “Juice or seltzer?”

“A little bit of juice and seltzer. Thank you, Emmanuel.”

The employee filled the cup while Reb Zundel turned to his tablemate again. “Nu, Reb Yisrael,” he prodded fondly. “Won’t you tell me what is making you so happy? Did you finish a masechta?”

“He’s about to finish one,” Emmanuel said as he set down the cup. “Right, Mr. Yisrael? He has only three daf to go.”

“Four,” Elisheva’s father corrected him, and tasted a bit of the mashed potatoes with the edge of his fork.

“Oh, baruch Hashem, baruch Hashem, you are so fortunate to be doing that! May you merit to begin and finish many more masechtos!” the elderly man wished his friend warmly. “So is that why you’ve been smiling since the minute you came into the dining room?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 37

January 13, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 37 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Have you gone to see the apartment yet, Elisheva?” Yocheved, Eliyahu’s oldest sister, began the call without any small talk or niceties. “I didn’t know you’re the type, you know, who buys raffle tickets.”

“I didn’t buy them,” Elisheva said. Her pre-lunch nap had now been disturbed for the fifth time by an excited phone call. Her head had ached terribly this morning after a night of talking and efforts to digest this news—efforts that were not crowned with much success. So this morning she’d sent Tzippy to work at the day care center instead of her.

“What? You didn’t buy any tickets for this raffle?”

“Nope. My father did.”

“Your father? Wow!”

“Yes. He bought three tickets—for us, for Miri, and for Tzippy…and our ticket won.” For the fourth time, at least, she listened to herself objectively, as though she was just an observer, with interest. Our ticket won….our ticket. It was one thing when people who purchased raffle tickets dream about the fraction of a chance they have of winning. But she? Them—Eliyahu and Elisheva Potolsky? Was it really them who had received that phone call last night?”

“For Tzippy? Why did he buy a ticket for Tzippy?”

“I don’t know, Yocheved.”

“She has a beautiful apartment already, doesn’t she?”

“Yes. But my father didn’t consult me.”

“So let’s hear! Where is your new apartment?”

“In the new buildings at the end of Chazon Ish.”

“I don’t know Bnei Brak very well, but I take it that the location works for you. And what does ‘furnished’ mean? What does it have?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it just standing and waiting for you with furniture? Or will they give you a credit and let you choose the furniture you want to buy for it?”

“I think we get to go buy it.”

“And they didn’t tell you exactly how much they’re giving you?”

“No, not yet.”

“How big is it exactly?”

“If I understood correctly, it’s eight rooms, plus it has a large porch.” She looked at the half-empty laundry basket. What had she done with all the clothes that were in it? Had she folded them? No, they were here in a big pile to her left. “I hope that my father will agree to come live with us there. I told him that I’m planning to make him an apartment together with us.”

“He kept refusing to come live with you until now, right?”

“Right, and I understand him. Until now I wouldn’t have been able to give him his own space, with the quiet and relaxation that he needs.” She glanced at her tiny, overcrowded home. The home that, when all was said and done, she loved very much.

“Elisheva, it sounds absolutely amazing.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 36

January 13, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 36 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Motza’ei Shabbos. Tzippy packed up their things while Peretz’s mother busied herself in the kitchen filling containers for them. “I don’t have you over every Shabbos,” she’d said after Havdalah. “So when you do come, I’d like to give you the leftover food.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Tzippy saw her placing chicken, meat, soup, and fish into containers. She didn’t especially like any one of these foods. She wasn’t used to the sharp taste of the Hungarian type of soup, and certainly not to the fish that was generously spiced with black and white pepper. The chicken and meat were decent, although nothing more than that. But who cared? They had enough food here for a whole week!

Peretz came to help her pack up. After all, he was an expert at packing, what with all of his years away in yeshivah. “My mother gave me 100 shekel just now,” he reported. “So tell her thank you when we leave, okay?”

“Sure,” she replied. Interestingly, her mother had given them 200 shekel two weeks ago, and told them that they couldn’t always help out, but when they could, they were so happy to, especially because she was still in school and couldn’t look for a serious job just yet.

Tzippy wasn’t going to start comparing, and they certainly had no right to complain, but when she looked at the two families and saw the differences in their means, the standards of their daily fare, she did feel some resentment. Couldn’t Peretz’s mother spare them a bit more than 100 shekel? She hadn’t spent anything on the wedding. And they knew how to spend; that had been evident throughout the wedding preparations. What had happened? Peretz’s mother was generous only when it was on Korman’s account, but not when it came to her personal wallet?

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 36

January 6, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 36 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Motza’ei Shabbos. Tzippy packed up their things while Peretz’s mother busied herself in the kitchen filling containers for them. “I don’t have you over every Shabbos,” she’d said after Havdalah. “So when you do come, I’d like to give you the leftover food.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Tzippy saw her placing chicken, meat, soup, and fish into containers. She didn’t especially like any one of these foods. She wasn’t used to the sharp taste of the Hungarian type of soup, and certainly not to the fish that was generously spiced with black and white pepper. The chicken and meat were decent, although nothing more than that. But who cared? They had enough food here for a whole week!

Peretz came to help her pack up. After all, he was an expert at packing, what with all of his years away in yeshivah. “My mother gave me 100 shekel just now,” he reported. “So tell her thank you when we leave, okay?”

“Sure,” she replied. Interestingly, her mother had given them 200 shekel two weeks ago, and told them that they couldn’t always help out, but when they could, they were so happy to, especially because she was still in school and couldn’t look for a serious job just yet.

Tzippy wasn’t going to start comparing, and they certainly had no right to complain, but when she looked at the two families and saw the differences in their means, the standards of their daily fare, she did feel some resentment. Couldn’t Peretz’s mother spare them a bit more than 100 shekel? She hadn’t spent anything on the wedding. And they knew how to spend; that had been evident throughout the wedding preparations. What had happened? Peretz’s mother was generous only when it was on Korman’s account, but not when it came to her personal wallet?

Tzippy blushed, and realized it. She bent down to fiddle with the zipper on the suitcase so Peretz wouldn’t notice the flush on her cheeks. Shame, shame, shame. Her parents would be mortified if they would know the nature of her thoughts.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 35

December 30, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 35 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“You know what condition I was in when I got to my parents’ house that morning…” Blumi folded the blanket with jerky motions. The hotel room was beginning to feel stifling, as if it was closing in on her. She wanted to be in her own home, in her own room. But how could she go home now?

The simplest solution would be to ask Beri who the bachur who had been at the house that night was. But she couldn’t admit to Beri the fact that this was what had been on her mind during those moments. It was bad enough admitting it to herself.

“Not that that was on my mind at the time,” she heard herself explaining to Gideon. “Really, it wasn’t!” She sat down on the bed, fingering the orange cyclamen flower printed on the velour blanket. Who drew orange cyclamens, for Heaven’s sake?

“What wasn’t on your mind?” Her husband was trying to follow her train of thought—albeit not very successfully.

“The yad. My father’s silver yad.”

“Hmmm,” he said, with commendable patience. “And then?” A banal phrase that doesn’t give away how much you don’t understand what the other person is talking about…

“I wanted to go into the room where Abba was,” she said, her eyes wide. He could see that again, she was reliving those difficult moments of frantic packing, the flight, landing in Eretz Yisrael…

“And then I saw that the cabinet in the hallway was open. It was a little strange, because when had it been opened, and what for? I got nervous that thieves had managed to enter. The shelves there were almost empty; it hadn’t usually been a very full cabinet to begin with. I stuck my hand in and felt the envelope.”

“The envelope?”

“Where my father had hidden his silver yad.”

“I see. Nu?”

“It was only when I stood at the door of the room that I saw…” Her voice broke. “That apparently the one who had opened the cabinet had been Beri, to take out my mother’s old copper candlesticks. You know, when they got married after the war, my father didn’t have money to buy her more expensive candlesticks, so he purchased something simple. Beri had just taken them out to light two candles…” She stared at the orange cyclamen.

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