Danger Deep Down

June 10, 2021

C611

Danger Deep Down

If you know someone with a disability, then you know how awful and misunderstood it feels when you see that person being, well, misunderstood by others.

I’ve had personal experience with this. A close relative of mine has Down’s syndrome. Once, this relative and her disability came up in a conversation I was having with a friend. I was very taken aback when my friend flippantly remarked, “Oh, so she’s unwell.”

Huh? I remember thinking. Unwell?  Someone who is sick is considered “unwell.” But what does Down’s syndrome have to do with being sick?! I know that Down’s syndrome often comes along with health issues, but baruch Hashembli ayin hara, this relative is doing just fine health-wise. Why would my friend immediately equate a disability with a physical sickness?!

In Danger Deep Down, a beautifully written novel for tweens and teens by Sarah Feldbrand, we meet Shai, a boy on the autistic spectrum who is similarly misunderstood by his peers. Shai is a brilliant and sensitive boy who has so much to offer, but the parents of many of his classmates don’t want to see that. They don’t want their “normal” children interacting with a “strange” kid, and they want Shai out of the mainstream school.

It takes an exciting—though frightening—mystery, and lots of sleuth work on Shai and his friend Motty’s parts, for people to start realizing what a wonderful kid Shai really is…

If you’re looking for a great book for your kids to read, filled with suspense, adventure, and excellent lessons, not to mention layers of depth…then Danger Deep Down is the book you want.

Click here to purchase online.


The Black Sheep – Chapter 33

June 7, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 33 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The small nightlight cast a soft, yellow glow, but the floor of the room was completely black in the darkness. It was impossible to see the interesting pattern of the tiles. Ariella ignored the dark; she’d never been particularly afraid of it. On the contrary, it helped her conjure up lots of magical ideas, interesting thoughts, and countless imaginary scenes. She tossed her soft slippers into a corner of the room and walked barefoot on the floor, creating a figure eight as she walked around the rectangular room. Numerous studies showed that doing so helped with  a lot of things—she’d read that once.

On a chair near the bed was the necklace she had created under Aliza’s tutelage. She couldn’t see it clearly, but its large green stones reflected some of the yellow rays of the nightlight, and it glowed in a strange, greenish light.

The stones were strange; she didn’t think she’d ever wear this necklace, even if it would match one of her outfits. But Aliza hadn’t let her choose. Besides, there hadn’t really been anything better to choose from. Aliza’s stones were mostly quite large, colorful, lumpy, or in colors that were too bold for Ariella’s taste.

She was happy here. Yes. The freedom was refreshing, and it was helping her air out; it eased the weight that had been resting on her shoulders in recent months. Sometimes, she felt like she didn’t know what she wanted anymore, but it was Aliza who had caused her to actually put things out on the table, between her stones and threads and beads. That had been good.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 32

May 31, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 32 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Osher, haven’t you been taught that even when you are upset, you never run away from home?” Reb Elazar asked as he opened his huge black umbrella. “Were you never taught that?”

“I’m learning disabled, Rebbi,” Osher said, gazing at the rain that fell steadily beyond the protective boundaries of the umbrella. “I don’t grasp things easily. And even if I do get it—I forget quickly. Where are you taking me?”

“Nowhere special. I just came here.”

“What’s ‘here’?”

“The old part of Acco. I’m a little familiar with this area.”

They stood across from a sandy lot. In the middle of it stood a brick structure that was neither new or old; it looked desolate and ramshackle. Behind it were a few slats of wood, remnants of a gate of some sort, or a pen.

“What is that?” Osher squinted. “Was it once a cowshed?”

“I think it was actually a stable,” Rabbi Reiness said in a dull tone.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 31

May 24, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 31 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Back to the Present, 2015

“I moved to a new place yesterday,” Ariella commented, returning her chair to its place, her session having just ended. She knew she was Sarah’s last client for the day, but for some reason the therapist remained seated. Ariella could not decide if she was looking at her directly, or half an inch above her. But the gaze was interested and warm—not pressuring.

“I’m hoping that that means new mazel,” she continued. She didn’t mean “mazel tov” when she said that, but the thought flashed through her mind that she could think of at least three women who would be sure that that was what she’d meant. It was all well-intentioned, she knew. Still, she liked Sarah’s type of intentions better: the latter merely nodded.

When the silence lingered, Sarah asked, in her American accent, “How is this new place?”

Baruch Hashem, it’s very nice. She’s a widow, sixty-five years old, who rents out rooms. I actually thought she was younger at first.”

“And she’s nice to you?” Sarah smiled.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 30

May 17, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 30 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Binyamin sat in the little room, not knowing what he was waiting for. He had not been assigned a prison uniform when he entered, though he’d heard from others that that was what usually happened. He just passed by the reception room, and his escorts said something to the soldier who sat there, and continued further inside with him. A long corridor, steep stone stairs, and here he was, with his own clothes.

If he was not mistaken, at least two hours had passed since he had been brought here.

There was one narrow window in the room, and Binyamin rose toward it. He looked out at an empty pit between the high walls, filled with thorny summer flowers. A cool sea breeze whistled between the tall stone walls and reached him, cooling his sweaty forehead. He was still thirsty. And he still had no idea what was going to happen to him today. But he tried to focus on the fact that despite it all, it was not the British who would render his fate, nor would it be the Jewish policeman who had displayed a modicum of empathy. It was not even his own father, who was certainly scrambling about right now, trying to exercise his connections to make it clear to the British that this entire arrest was one big mistake.

There was only one Decider.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 29

May 10, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 29 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Good morning, Mr. Shikovitzer.” Binyamin put his tefillin bag down on the small table at the entrance, and grasped the nearest bench. “How are you?”

“Hashem will have mercy,” Zelig’s father replied, and his lips pressed together firmly. He continued sweeping the entryway of the shul without saying another word. Binyamin’s eyes darted around in an effort to catch sight of Zelig, but his friend wasn’t there.

“Come here, Binyamin!” Shikovitzer shouted suddenly. “The bench doesn’t have to be like that. Did you forget where it belongs? Really now!”

Binyamin glanced up. Zelig’s father had never spoken to him in such a tone. He surely had a good reason for doing so.

“Here,” Yitzchak Shikovitzer said. “Let’s lift this bench together and push it against this wall.” As they lifted the wide, heavy bench, he muttered, “A friend of Zelig’s came to me in the middle of the night and brought me a note from him. But keep quiet—they are hanging around the windows.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 28

May 3, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 28 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The shul for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russia was located in a simple, two-story structure, on the ground floor. Minchah was coming to a close, and Mr. Shikovitzer, the dedicated gabbai, distributed volumes of Mishnayos ahead of the rav’s shiur. Rabbi Betzalel Miller, who had accepted the position of rabbi reluctantly and temporarily, glanced at Binyamin, the only yeshivah bachur in the community, who sat down next to his father and opened his sefer.

“Perhaps we can give Mr. Reiness’s son the honor of giving the shiur today,” he said. “Binyamin, will you give the shiur today instead of me? A bachur who’s already learning Nashim and Nezikin…”

Binyamin raised his head from the volume of Mishnayos that he had opened, and a small, bashful smile crossed his lips as he shook his head from side to side. His father looked at him with a nachas-filled smile, and Binyamin, feeling the heat rise in his cheeks, hurried to bury his eyes in the small sefer.

Nu, nu,” the gabbai said, “our Binyamin is bashful, Rabbi Miller. We’ll be happy to have the Rav give the shiur, as usual.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 27

April 26, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 27 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Welcome!” Mr. Shikovitzer said warmly. “Binyamin, it’s so good to see you! We haven’t had a visit from you since Pesach. I’m sure the whole family was happy that you’ve come, huh? When did you get back from yeshivah?”

“Last night.”

“At night? You weren’t afraid?”

“We left in the morning, and the automobile was escorted by a British policeman.”

“The fellahin are cowards, Abba,” Zelig added scornfully.

“That’s not exactly true,” his father said, glancing outside. “In any case, you should speak a little quieter. Nu? Did you bump into Mahmoud?”

“He bumped into us.” Zelig chuckled, and took his regular seat on the right side of the table. “He already told us there’s a delicious Polish soup for lunch. When will he remember once and for all that it’s a Russian soup?”

“Good question…” Mr. Shakovitzer rubbed his blackened hands on the large, blue apron that he wore, and pointed to the big metal oven in the corner. “It stayed hot especially for you.”

“You look worried today, yeshivah bucher’l.” Zelig’s father patted his son’s friend on the shoulder. Binyamin’s normally cheerful expression was more thoughtful than usual, and he was staring blankly in the direction of the large oven.

“Binyamin?” Zelig asked. “Is everything okay?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 26

April 19, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 26 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Five days had passed since her arrival in Acco, and she still hadn’t learned much about Osher’s place. There really was no good reason for her to go back to Bnei Brak just yet. Especially since she was actually enjoying it here.

But where could she stay?

The wind picked up, and Ariella tightened her scarf around her. She leaned on the low wall, not right across from the Reiness home, but a few dozen yards down the block, and let herself revel in the feeling of the wind pressing at her back.

“You again?” a voice asked from the side. Ariella turned around, slightly shaken, and saw the same woman she’d met up with the day before, staring at her curiously. This was their third encounter.

Ariella stared back steadily, and they locked gazes for a few long seconds. “Yes, it’s me,” Ariella said finally. “This is no one’s private property, right?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 25

April 12, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 25 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The next afternoon, Ariella needed to get out again: she felt the walls of the small room closing in on her. She wondered if she should approach the Reiness home again, or if she should suffice for now with the next appointment she’d made with the therapist. The woman had made an excellent impression on her. But what kind of chinuch was Osher getting in her home? What was the learning level of her husband’s yeshivah? Ariella needed to observe the place from a closer vantage point and to figure out who the other students were. But how could she do that without Osher spotting her? How many hours could she spend wandering around the area to glean information about the place?

She walked out of her room and locked the door, not yet sure where she was headed.

“Are you going out now?” Miriam opened the door of her house, holding a large garbage bag.

“Yes, I decided to go out for a bit.”

“Where to?”

“Not sure yet.” Ariella smiled.

“Do you want to come with me to the shuk?”

“The Arab market? In the Old City?”

“Yes.” Miriam smiled back. “I buy my vegetables there, and we ma’aser them at home. There’s no problem this year, you know, since it’s not shemittah.”

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