The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 32

December 9, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 32 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 walked into her hotel room and kicked off her shoes. This week had been draining beyond belief. She sank into the rattan chair in the corner of a room and passed a hand over her eyes. When she’d first arrived in Israel, she’d planned to stay at her father’s apartment for the week of shivah, but Gideon claimed that her brothers would not take kindly to the idea.

“What will they think, that I’m planning to take over the apartment?” she’d argued. “That I’ll lock the door from the inside? That I won’t let them in? What, exactly?”

“I don’t think they’ll suspect that those are our plans, especially since we are not lacking for such an apartment by any stretch, baruch Hashem. But family members never like it when one of them displays an especially strong connection to one of the possessions of the parents who have passed on, and certainly not something the size of an apartment.” He took a deep breath. “Inheritances are always a sensitive subject.”

To her relief, he did not mention the rift with his own brother, Shimon. She had no energy to hear about his complex family entanglements right now, and anyway, it wouldn’t happen to her. She wouldn’t fight with any of her brothers over the yerushah; she’d know how to go about it in a smart way.

“Fine,” she’d murmured then, a bit dazed. “So we’ll sleep in a hotel.”

She didn’t mention the idea of staying at her father’s apartment again, even when, on the fourth day of shivah, the last visitor didn’t leave until after two in the morning, for some reason, and she and Gideon were almost collapsing with exhaustion. But the warning note in his voice stopped her from suggesting that they sleep there. Gideon had had a bitter experience with regard to inheritances, family relations, and brothers, and she didn’t want to step on any toes. She wouldn’t overtly display to her brothers any special connection to her father’s apartment, just like she’d made sure that they hadn’t seen the envelope she’d given to that bachur. She had no idea who, if any of them, even knew about it, although she had a feeling that her brothers knew something. But whether or not that was the case, it was clear that they would not take kindly to her interest in the yad from the shelf in her father’s top cabinet.

But what did they want? Or rather, what would they want if they would know about it? Over the years, her brothers had always been so practical, so lacking emotion for anything nostalgic. Who had always been Abba’s listening ear? To whom had he told his stories from the past? And to whom had he said, “You want it? Then it will be yours after my one hundred and twenty”?

Only to her. Only her.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 31

December 2, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 31 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. 

At 6:40 a.m., when Binyamin was awakened by the tumult around him, he still felt quite ill. But when he opened his eyes a second time an hour later, he felt somewhat better.

“Ima?” he croaked, half asleep—and then suddenly blushed into his pillow. Why was he calling his mother like a little boy?

He washed his hands into the basin that someone had placed near his bed, and got up. Yes, he was more steady on his feet than yesterday. No, actually not. He sat down again quickly.

The morning noises that he loved, and which he’d almost forgotten, wafted into the dining room. Dishes clinking in the kitchen, and cries of, “Where’s my brush?” and, “Who’s helping me find Nati’s other shoe?” and, “Ima tell him to stop; he’s touching my chocolate milk!” Rapid footsteps, a falling chair, a giggle, a whiny wail, and Devoiry’s voice asking Itzik to please tell her already what he wanted in his sandwich.

“Binyamin?” Ima walked into the room. “How are you? How was your night?”

Baruch Hashem, I think I feel a little better.”

“Really?” She looked at him doubtfully. “Because you don’t look better. I’m leaving to work in a few minutes. I made you some tea in a thermos. I want you to make sure to drink a lot, okay? Do you want another blanket?”

“No, if I get cold I’ll take one of the blankets from the other boys’ beds.”

“Fine, they’re folded up in Nati’s crib.”

“Thanks.” He tried to smile, but his facial muscles ached. He must really have the flu or something.

Little heads kept popping in from behind the accordion door.

“Bye, Binyamin!”

Refuah sheleimah!”

“Get well soon!”

“Don’t leave before we get back, okay?”

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NEW RELEASE: Middos Malka

November 27, 2019

Middos Malka

“I wish I was a boy,” my daughter told me recently.

I think it was after a grand Avos U’banim event, when her brothers came home loaded with soda cans and other nosh and prizes. Or maybe it was after Simchas Torah, when—again—her brothers got to collect a whole lot more candy than her, since she was stuck in the women’s section while they were in the center of all the action.

I tried to explain to her the many perks that only she, as a girl, had—perks like more vacation days than her brothers, and more class plays and performances, and a fun G.O. program in school… It took a few more examples, but eventually she stopped grumbling about it.

It got me thinking, though. I bet there are many little girls out there who wish they were boys. So many of the popular figures in kids’ lives are male—Uncle Moishy, the Twins from France, MiddosMan

Wait. Stop right there, because news flash: MiddosMan now has a female counterpart, his cousin Middos Malka, who’s raring to go fight Mr. Yetzer Hara as wholeheartedly and with as much zest and sense of adventure as MiddosMan himself!

Yes, you read that right. The newest book in the MiddosMan series is actually starring his cousin, Middos Malka. And just like all the other MiddosMan books, it’s got a read-along CD with great music and songs, as well as fantastic illustrations inside the book.

So if you’ve got a little girl in your life who could use a great gift, go ahead and get her Middos Malka.

And watch her delight in the magic…

Click here to purchase online.

RECENT RELEASE: These Are the Candles

November 26, 2019

These Are the Candles

I remember playing a game with some of my kids when they were just toddlers. It basically entailed schmoozing with them about the Shabbos seudah and going through all the courses aloud together:

“First we have Kiddush, and then comes—”


“That’s right! Then we have fi—“


“You got it! And with the fish we have—”

And so on, until the child’s favorite part of the meal—dessert. (Of course.) And without fail, at the mention of each special Shabbos food, the child’s face would light up in recognition and anticipation of that familiar, yummy delicacy.

There’s just something so beautifully natural and real about even our youngest children’s excitement for anything Shabbos-related.

These Are the Candles truly builds on this natural excitement in children for Shabbos, with its warm and simple rhymes about our preparations for the holy day, and then the fun and “geshmak” once we light candles and the Day of Rest actually sets in.

Explore the wonderful aspects of Shabbos through the eyes of your children, in this adorable kids book that will fast become a family favorite!

Click here to purchase online.

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 30

November 25, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 30 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. 

Binyamin leaped off the couch, disoriented. Something had hit him, he was sure.

He looked left and right, and then caught Meir’s eye. His eight-and-a-half-year-old brother was blushing, his hand on the handle of the closed door. “Sorry,” Meir muttered. “It was my ball. You’re not angry, are you?”

“Your ball?” Binyamin picked up the round object that was resting near his hand. “Wait, what time is it?”

“Five fifteen. The little kids are eating supper in the kitchen, and Ima closed the door to the dining room. She said not to bother you because she thinks you have fever.”

“Fever?” Yes, maybe that was it. His head was pounding, and his whole body ached.

Meir nodded. “But I like playing here when the room is empty. I go in and close the door. I didn’t mean for the ball to land on you.” He came over to take his ball, gazing at his older brother. “I forgot that you were sleeping here on the couch. You said after lunch that you were going to sit down for a few minutes because you were dizzy, and suddenly we saw that you were sleeping really deeply.”

“It’s five fifteen already…” Binyamin murmured. “Oh, no. I’m missing seder!” He got up to get his jacket, which had been tossed onto the end of the table.

The dining room door opened, and Elisheva peeked in. “Is everything alright, Binyamin?” she asked worriedly. “You’re very flushed. Sit down; I’m making you a tea.”

“No, Ima, thanks, but I have to get back to yeshivah. I didn’t mean to fall asleep; I just sat down for a minute…”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 29

November 18, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 29 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 opened his eyes, his roommates had already left. He leaped out of bed groggily, washed his hands, and hurried to get ready.

Somehow, he got through the morning in a hazy fog of exhaustion, though he did notice that Shabsi was nowhere to be seen.

“What’s up with you, Potolsky?” his chavrusa, Zilberman, probed after a while. “You don’t look very with-it today.”

“Exhaustion,” Binyamin said, passing a hand over his forehead. This hadn’t happened the other times. He was an energetic person by nature, not someone who needed lots of sleep, and if he missed a night or half a night of sleep, he usually managed until he was able to catch up.

“Looks like more than just exhaustion to me…” Zilberman studied him closely. “Your face is very red.”

“Could be,” Binyamin said. Suddenly, he stood up. “I’m going to get a cup of water, and then I’ll be back.”

“What’s been going on at night that’s making you so tired?”

Had he blushed because his face had somehow predicted Zilberman’s question and the discomfort it would cause him?

“At night?” Binyamin echoed. “Nothing special.”

Zilberman looked at him skeptically. Binyamin knew he’d have to tell him at one point; otherwise, Zilberman was likely to imagine all kinds of dreadful things his chavrusa was up to at night.

“Nothing special? And last night?”

“Really, nothing much.” Binyamin had already taken a step backward. “I went to learn someplace.” Let someone say that wasn’t true!

He strode out of the beis medrash. Ugh, why did he have the feeling that this was happening to him now only because Yaakov had told him that he would yet see the damage these nights were causing him? Who had asked Yaakov to get involved?

He would try to skip lunch and catch up on some sleep. Over the last month, he must have accumulated enough of a sleep deficit to make his body rebel. Energetic or not, Binyamin realized, he hadn’t slept for four nights over the past three and a half weeks, so it was probably taking its toll now.

Did that make Yaakov right?


Maybe he just needed to set some more boundaries for himself. Just as he hadn’t been embarrassed to tell Shabsi that he could only do this job when the niftar was an elderly person, he could also tell him, with the same firmness, that he could only do it once in two weeks, at most once in a week and a half. Maybe that would help him in the future.

For now, though, he really needed to sleep.

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RECENT RELEASE: Fraidy Can Still Smile

November 14, 2019

Fraidy Can Still Smile

 “Oh, NO! What did you DO?!!!”

The screech is immediately followed by an indignant wail, and I know right away that the baby has once again gotten into her big sister’s napkin collection.

Sure enough, my daughter comes bounding downstairs ten seconds later, her face like a thundercloud. “Ma, look what she did!! She just ripped up my two best napkins!! Why can’t someone keep her AWAY FROM MY STUFF?!”

What can I tell my daughter? “If you would keep your stuff high on the shelf, the baby wouldn’t be able to get to it…” That might be the absolute truth, but it’s certainly not going to make her feel any better right now.

You know what would be really helpful? If she would just think to herself, Give a few years, and our baby will b’ezras Hashem grow up. She’ll stop ripping up my napkins and ruining my things. (And anyway, in another few years I’ll also be older and hopefully more mature, and maybe I won’t care so much about ripped up napkins anymore!)

Okay, so the parenthesis part would really be pushing it, but do you realize how many tears and tantrums could be spared if our kids only realized that babies don’t mean to be bothersome; they’re just discovering the world around them, doing what all babies do?

If you’re nodding along with me up until now, you would absolutely love the book Fraidy Can Still Smile, a children’s picture book all about learning to deal with younger siblings. In this book, Fraidy is feeling frustrated when her baby brother Yossi messes up her toys and rips up her coloring sheets. Then Fraidy comes across some photos of herself as a baby…and suddenly the whole picture changes!

Fraidy Can Still Smile is the adorable story of a little girl who learns how to be flexible and tolerant of younger siblings who sometimes act pesky. Bursting with vibrant illustrations and important lessons, this book is sure to bring a smile to every child’s face. (P.S. And to their parents!)

Click here to purchase online.