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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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 34

December 23, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 34 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. 

A busy signal. And then again it was busy. Finally, on the third try, Blumi reached her husband.

“Gideon? Gideon, where are you?”

“What do you mean, where am I? I’m on the kitchen porch. I had an urgent call to take.”

“I don’t like it when we are with my family and you go out for urgent calls, but whatever. The point is that I need your help now.”

“Fine, I’m done. I’ll go back to the dining room. But wait, where are you?”

“Shhhh…” Blumi pleaded into her cell phone. “I don’t want them to figure out that you’re talking to me. I want to leave.”

“Leave?”

“Yes, let’s go back to the hotel. I can’t go back to my brothers right now. Tell them something, whatever you want to make up…oh, and don’t forget my pocketbook. The mustard-colored one. It’s on the couch.”

“I don’t understand, Blumi,” he whispered. She hoped he’d understood and gone back into the kitchen, and that this conversation was not taking place in front of the open eyes and ears of her older brothers. “Where are you? Here in your parents’ building?”

Zichronam l’vrachah. No, I went out for a few minutes. I’m downstairs now, near our car. I want you to come down so we can leave.”

“But what should I tell them?”

How could someone who was so smart in business not understand something so simple? “I don’t know; tell them whatever you want! That I left for a few minutes, and I can’t come back right now. That I’m not feeling well, and I feel like I’m going to collapse. I don’t know what, but could you just come down already?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 33

December 16, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 33 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. 

Blumi didn’t care for the cakes and petit fours that her sisters-in-law had sent for the siblings’ meeting; it seemed as though they were competing for the title of most talented pastry chef. The fact that she wasn’t at all a good baker herself was just a side point. After all, she could buy as many of these cakes as she liked, if she wanted.

But she didn’t want to. Who needed all these elaborate cakes here? As if they hadn’t just gotten up from shivah yesterday…

“Why aren’t you eating anything, Blumi?” her oldest brother, Beri, asked.

“I don’t have an appetite,” she replied, glancing grimly at the empty china closet. They should send all these cakes straight in there. They were pretty to look at, but that was all, at least in her opinion.

“Oh, you’re wondering about the china closet?” Beri had misinterpreted her glance. “I told you that the first time Abba was hospitalized for a longer time, he asked me to take all the silver to my house, for safety.”

“Yes, I remember,” she said tersely.

“Those need to be divided, as well,” her second brother, Shmulik, remarked.

“That’s the simplest thing,” Beri said. “We have some more serious things to deal with, before the silver. Things like Abba’s factory, and the buildings in Yerushalayim. What is with those?”

Words were tossed around, ideas were aired, and thoughts were shared, but Blumi didn’t hear any of it. She sat with her chin resting in her palms, her eyes staring blankly at the wall. Gideon stood near the window, smoking. Strange how a domineering businessman like him could suddenly become practically invisible here, despite being in the same room as the others. He didn’t like getting involved in her family’s financial affairs—she knew that. But her brothers often asked him for help and advice. Beri had been the one to ask him to come now, as well.

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