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.



November 13, 2019

One Pot, One Pan

I’ll never forget my first attempt at baking cookies.

I was in elementary school, and I decided that I would bake chocolate chip cookies. Feeling very big, I went through the recipe and began measuring and pouring, until I got to one particular ingredient: The recipe called for shortening (this was pre-trans-fat-hype era, of course), but I didn’t know what that was.

“I think it’s like oil,” I finally decided. But since I wasn’t entirely sure, I decided to put in some extra oil just to make up for the discrepancy. (What was I thinking? I have no idea!)

Needless to say, the resulting cookie dough was so oily, the balls wouldn’t stay put on the cookie sheet! They kept rolling and sliding around, making a big, slippery mess of everything. I remember thinking that we should really rename this recipe and call it “Oil Cookies” instead of “Chocolate Chip Cookies”…

I don’t think this story would have happened to me had I simply used the One Pot, One Pan cookbook. This is a cookbook where the recipes are so easy, clear, and straightforward, that even a beginner cook would do great in the kitchen while using it.

Not that a seasoned balabuste couldn’t use this cookbook too, though! As its subtitle reads, “Super Simple, Easy and Delicious Recipes for Beginners, Balabustas and Everyone in Between,” and enough big names in the kosher cooking industry, like Jamie Geller and the Kosher Guru, have agreed that it’s a real winner of a cookbook.

Filled with many tried-and-true, handy recipes that anyone, at any age or stage in life, can whip up easily, this is the go-to cookbook for busy moms needing to get supper on the table (preferably within ten minutes); bachurim or sem girls cooking for themselves in a dirah (without much cooking ware available); preteens who want to try their hand in the kitchen (whether or not they know their way around it); and anyone in between! You’ll find all your favorite comfort foods in here: classic chicken soup, Israeli salad, lemon-garlic chicken, meat lasagna, potato latkes, baked ziti, granola bars, brownies, iced coffee, and much more.

Click here to purchase online.

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 28

November 11, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 28 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. 

The man who left the airport of the M.R. Stefanik Airport in Bratislava shifted his small valise to his right hand. Even its relatively little weight was heavy for him.  Either his age was catching up to him, or this trip was just not doing him very much good.

But he was the one responsible for the fact that he had come here, so he had no one else to blame.

“Mr. Joe Ludmir?” A taxi driver leaning on his car stood up when he approached. “That’s you, right?”

“Right.” The man nodded at him. “I see that you recognized me, despite the years that have passed.”

“Sure,” the driver, a local, replied. “You’ve hardly changed.”

Sure, only fifteen years had been added to his age since his last visit here, but giving compliments to a tourist who hires you as a driver for his entire trip is surely very profitable. Joe’s lips curved into a half smile, and he let the driver put his valise into the trunk. “Is that all?” the driver asked in surprise. “Like then?”

“You remember well; I don’t like traveling with too many things.” He ran his fingers through his gray-white hair and straightened the little yarmulke. “If I lack for something, I’m sure you’ll be very happy to buy it for me.”

The streets hadn’t changed much in the last fifteen years, and Joe couldn’t decide if he remembered them so well from his wandering around during that visit, or from the many photos he had taken then to capture every single corner of the city of his birth. He leaned back and looked out the window in silence. Every so often, between the buildings, he could see the glistening waterline of the Danube, with the Bratislava Castle rising up behind it.

“Did you visit it last time?” the driver asked when he saw his guest gazing at the castle’s famous turrets.

Joe nodded. He didn’t know what it was, but something about this city enveloped him in a cloak of depression.

“We’re going to Mamaison, right?” the driver confirmed. “You reserved a room in that hotel, yes?”

“Yes, I have a confirmed reservation,” the tourist answered heavily.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 27

October 28, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 27 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. 

“That’s right,” the nurse agreed with Ulush. “I wanted to check if you knew what you were talking about, or if you were just disoriented. The child that you are looking for is here, near the window.”

Ulush’s eyes turned to the bed the nurse was pointing to. She gazed at Gustav’s white face and his half-closed eyes. “Yes,” she said, a lump in her throat. “Yes, that’s him.”

“What’s his name?” the nurse asked.

“Gustav,” Ulush said. She bent over the child. “Gustav? Gustav, it’s Ulush. Do you hear me?” The boy’s eyelids flickered a bit, but didn’t rise. She studied the tiny part of his pupils that she could see. It was hard to figure out what he was looking at, but it certainly wasn’t her.

“Gustav?” she whispered a third time.

He coughed in response.

She turned to the nurse who was standing behind her. “Can he speak?”

“Until now he hasn’t said a word.”

“And…what is his condition?”

The nurse shrugged. “Not good,” she said, and lowered her voice. “If he comes out of this, it will be a big miracle.”

Ulush turned back to the bed, fearfully looking at Gustav’s white face. “Do you know how worried I was about you, Gustav?” she whispered. “Where did you go? Why didn’t you come home that day? Janek went to look for you, and other people did, too… Edo was so sad that you disappeared on him. Do you know how much he loves you?” She blinked.

“Then Edo also left. Do you know where he is? He’s sailing on a ship now to Eretz Yisrael. You will also get well and go to Eretz Yisrael, right? Maybe you will come with us, with me and Janek. And there we will meet Edo and lots of other good Jews. You want to go, don’t you?”

The boy coughed again, deeper this time than before.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 26

October 23, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 26 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. 


Bratislava 5708/1948 

“Mazel tov, Ulush!” Tessa Lieber kissed her on both cheeks. “Show her to me! Oh, she’s so adorable and chubby!”

“Yes…” Ulush Cohen smiled and gazed at her two-day-old daughter who was sleeping in the cradle next to her bed.

“When are you coming back?”

“Four more days, I think, if everything is alright.”

“Everything is alright, yes?” Tessa studied her face closely.

“I hope so.”

“Because you look like something is not.”

Ulush burst into tears again, which she’d been doing a lot lately. “I didn’t manage to see Edo before he left.”


“Yes, the orphanage we’re connected to suddenly received certificates, and they decided that because he is in danger, he would join the others going. He left yesterday, and as much as Janek tried to arrange for him to visit here first, it didn’t work out.”

“Don’t worry, in another few months you’ll also get to Eretz Yisrael, b’ezras Hashem, and you’ll meet him there.”

“First of all, I’m not so sure we’ll be able to leave. It’s becoming more complicated from week to week. And besides, what will be with him until then?”

“There’s Someone Who is worrying about him more than you, Ulush, dear.” Tessa pulled over a chair and sat down, remembering belatedly to lower her voice. Besides Ulush, there were six other women lying in beds in the room.

Ulush nodded and wiped her tears with her sleeve.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 25

October 7, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 25 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?” Shabsi stuck his head into the room just as Binyamin’s balled-up socks landed in the laundry bag.

“What?” Binyamin yawned in response as he fluffed up his pillow.

“Oh, you’re on the way to bed already? Okay, I’ll find someone else. I came to you because you once asked me to offer you these types of jobs, remember?”

“Sure!” Binyamin jumped up. “They called you now?”

Shabsi nodded seriously. “You’re not supposed to be so excited,” he chastised Binyamin, whose hands were now deep in the laundry bag. “I know, after tonight you’ll be able to buy two good shirts, and start saving for a new hat, and maybe you’ll even have enough money left over for a bottle of Coke, but it would be nice to remember where we are going…” He concluded the sentence with a well-known singsong intonation.

“We have to remember that all our lives,” Binyamin agreed, ignoring the tingling at the back of his neck. It was a quarter to twelve at night. True, he was the one who had asked Shabsi if he could join him for these jobs. But that didn’t mean that the first time would be easy. “Oh, well, looks like all the socks in this bag are not really wearable. I’ll just take clean ones from my drawer.”

They walked together down the street, the streetlights casting macabre shadows of their figures every which way. But Binyamin just stared straight ahead. “What do I have to know?” he asked. His muscles were tense, and his shoulders felt pinched.

“Nothing special. With Tehillim and Mishnayos it’s one rate, and without them it’s another rate. But I’ll tell you that I always say Tehillim or learn. When it’s two of us, we can take shifts, with one of us going out to doze and the other staying in the room.”

“Where is it?” Binyamin remembered to ask.

“Rashi Street. The levayah is supposed to be tomorrow morning.”

“And they leave him in the house like that, for all these hours?”

“What does ‘like that’ mean? Can you think of something better for him now than having two yeshivah bachurim saying Tehillim at his side all night?”

“Um…I don’t know. Whatever.”

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