Beneath the Surface – Chapter 7

May 26, 2011

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 7 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2011 by Israel Bookshop Publication

From afar Shragi saw the vehicle growing smaller in the distance. He recognized Yehudis’s school bus and knew it was already twenty to eight. Within twenty minutes, he decided, he had to be on the 400 bus that would take him back to yeshivah. He didn’t want to be late to seder; it was enough he had missed davening in yeshivah.

He went up in the elevator and knocked lightly on the door before pushing it open wide. “Hello!” he called into the house.

His father greeted him in the kitchen. “Hello, Reb Shraga. Getting ready to leave?”

Shragi smiled. “That’s right, Abba. I want to be on the next bus.”

Gershon Ostfeld stood up. “Come, I’ll drive you to Rabi Akiva Street.”

“Oh, thanks, Abba! I hope it’s not too much trouble.”

“Trouble? For you, my dear son, it’s not a problem at all.”

Shragi hurried to his room and found that the carry-on he had arrived with yesterday was already packed up.

“Thanks a lot, Ima,” he said, smiling at his mother who walked in at that moment. “I see you packed my things for me.” He picked up the bag with his left hand and slid his tefillin bag into it.

“You’re leaving now?”

“Yes, Abba’s taking me to the bus stop.”

She stopped him near the door. “Shragi, just remember that the other side is waiting for us to get back to them. We spoke yesterday. I heard your concerns. That’s fine. But what do you want me to tell Rabbi Minzer? We can’t keep them waiting too long for an answer; it’s really not nice to the other side. You have to decide, one way or another.” She looked directly at him, waiting for his answer.

“I’ll tell you the truth, Ima: I really don’t know.” He smiled, but there was something in that smile that she could not decipher. “I had planned to think about it last night, but I was so tired that I fell asleep the second my head touched the pillow. I’ll think about it on the bus to Yerushalayim, and I’ll try to give you an answer by this evening. Is that okay?”

Chani acquiesced. “Okay, Shragi, this evening is reasonable. You’ve heard my opinion, you saw what you saw, and now, all you have to do is make the decision.”

“All I have to do…” he echoed her words. “Just the decision…” Keep Reading…

Beneath the Surface – Chapter 6

May 20, 2011

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 6 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2011 by Israel Bookshop Publication

“Hello, I’m Diana, from England,” Diana said as she walked inside, realizing that no invitation would be forthcoming, and if she wouldn’t take the step herself, she would find herself facing a closed door. “I’m here on business. I passed by downstairs and came across a serious fight between a group of children on the street and this girl. I understand she lives here.”

The woman nodded solemnly and her eyes narrowed into two slits.

“If I wouldn’t have saved her in time, she would have become a victim of their violence,” Diana said respectfully, hoping that such a tone would penetrate the woman’s obvious disinterest.

“As usual, it’s always her,” the woman groused. “I’m sick and tired of these stories.”

“You have to watch her more closely!” Diana said. “She’s your responsibility!”

The woman laughed; it was a hollow sound that matched the hollow look in her eyes. “I really don’t know if she’s my responsibility. My brother joined the Underground during the war and he somehow got a hold of this girl and gave her to us to care for, in exchange for money. She was a two-year-old baby at the time. My brother was killed by the Germans right at the end of the war, and since the Nazis left, the Underground courier who used to come regularly with the money hasn’t come. I’ve only kept her here out of the goodness of my heart; otherwise, I would have long thrown her into the street.”

Diana gaped. “You have to give her back to Jews,” she finally said. “She belongs to them. I’m sure that there’s someone there who looks after the lost children!”

The woman began to protest tiredly. “I have no time to find out exactly where to take her. I’m busy enough taking care of my baby and my house. In any case, although I would want to get her out of here, I don’t want to give her to the Jews. I think that a good Christian institution would make something more worthwhile out of her.”

The British woman was stunned. “No! You mustn’t!” she cried. “If she’s a Jew, she must be returned to her people. You can’t do that!”

“If she’s so important to the Jews, let them find her. I won’t run after them. But I think that next week, I’m going to send her away from here. I have a friend who works at the La Mercion convent in Brussels. I believe that if I write to her about the child, they’ll come and take her within a few days, and I’ll probably even get a nice sum of money for her.”

“You won’t do it!” Diana grasped the girl’s wrist tightly. “I’m taking her with me now. There’s a Jewish institution not far from here, in the city center. I’m going to bring her there!” Keep reading…

Beneath the Surface – Chapter 5

May 12, 2011

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 5 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2011 by Israel Bookshop Publication

“Of course I know the family! My younger sister—you remember Dina’le, with the braids, don’t you? Today she doesn’t have braids, of course, and her married name is Zingerevitz, and she lives there, a few buildings away from Rambam Street. And the Ostfelds live next door to her!”

Nu, so what can you tell me about them?” Out of the corner of her eye, Minna saw her husband’s car pull up a few feet from the bench, arriving a bit earlier than she had anticipated.  “I mean, we’ve heard what kind of family they are, more or less. What I need to know is about the atmosphere at home, despite everything.”

“They say it’s not hereditary,” Chaya hurried to assert.

Minna laughed. “Sure, if they are bringing up their children in the ways of traditional Yiddishkeit, then it’s not hereditary at all. My question is how they are raising the children and if the past—and the present—don’t influence the atmosphere at home. After all, a father who is a university lecturer … you know what I mean …”

“Of course I understand,” Chaya said, nodding solemnly. “But you should know that the—how did you put it? The present and the past? What a nice way to say it. It doesn’t have a negative influence at all. My sister told me that that house has so much joie-de-vivre, such a positive energy. The mother is a special woman, and the father is also wonderful. So what if he’s a university lecturer? It doesn’t prevent him from dealing with life’s challenges. By the way, I think he is a regular member of the Daf Yomi shiur that my brother-in-law organizes. He is also a very refined person. I’ve seen him a few times walking with the girl.”

“The one in high school?”

“Come on! If I say the girl, then of course I mean the little one.”

“Yes, you’re right. You wouldn’t have called a high-schooler a girl,” Minna agreed with a smile, and motioned for her husband to wait a moment.

“…So I overheard what they were talking about. He was explaining a concept in the parshah, and he clarified it all so clearly and to the point. It was such a heartwarming scene.”

Minna rose to greet Shimon, who had gotten out of the car to open the trunk for the groceries. “Chaya, I have no words to thank you! You’ve been so helpful!”

“Should I help you with this as well?” Chaya asked as she bent over her friend’s bags.

“No thanks, my husband will help me with that.”

“Wonderful. So take care, Minna. If the boy is a good boy—take him. You have nothing to be afraid of as far as problems. The family has their emotional health and that’s what counts!” Chaya called as she walked off. Minna hurried to put the last bag into the trunk and then settled herself into the front seat.

“A friend of yours?” Shimon asked. Keep Reading…

Beneath the Surface – Chapter 4

May 6, 2011

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 4 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2011 by Israel Bookshop Publication

“They simply couldn’t stop praising her, you hear? It sounds good from all aspects: a great girl, smart, with excellent middos and a golden heart. There’s only one thing that bothers me and that is that she is very quiet. Perhaps it’s not so suitable.”

Shragi smiled. “What does quiet mean?” he asked, setting his empty dessert plate down on the table. “Is it something extreme?”

The conversation was taking place on Friday night, after the seudah. Abba had gone to bed, exhausted from the long week. Simi was putting Yitzy and Yehudis to sleep and her voice could be heard in the background as mother and son conversed.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” Chani replied. “Look, I spoke to a few of her friends and the picture that I get is this: she almost never speaks up in class, but before tests she can lecture about the material in front of a whole group. I told you that they said she’s very capable. From one good friend—someone Gross—I heard that in small groups of two or three girls, she is very open and friendly.”

Shragi nodded, suppressing a yawn. “I know such boys from yeshivah; they prefer to open up socially only in small groups of people, but they get lost in large groups.”

“The question is if that is suitable for you.”

Shragi stood up and took a bentcher from the cupboard. “I want to make one more inquiry about the father. I have a few friends in Kesser Shmuel. You said he has some type of shteller there?”

Chani nodded. “On Motza’ei Shabbos I’ll look for the note with the details. Rabbi Kilman mentioned exactly where and what, but don’t expect me to remember the specifics. It was something with two words.”

“A maggid shiur?”


Mashgiach katan?”

“I don’t think so.”

Shragi squinted in concentration. “What else could it be … a sho’el u’meishiv?” Keep Reading…

In Honor of the 10th Yahrzeit of Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l

May 1, 2011

THE UNIVERSE TESTIFIES is a sampling of some of the Rav’s classic teachings on the study of Creation and the myth of evolution. As a zechus for his neshamah, and an introduction to the unique worldview that Rav Miller represented, Israel Bookshop Publications is proud to offer this 128 page, hardcover sefer – sold for $12.95 in Judaica bookstores absolutely free by mail (+s/h), with purchase of any other Israel Bookshop title(s) totaling $20 or more.

Whether you are a seasoned student of the Rav, or you have never yet experienced the Torah of Rav Miller zt”l, now is the time to enjoy his original writing for FREE!

To order your free sefer online click here.  Add this item to your cart as well at $20 worth of other available books and check out.

To order your free sefer by mail click here for a coupon.  Please mail back the coupon with your store receipt showing a purchase of $20 or more of Israel Bookshop Publications titles along with a check for $3 shipping and handling. Our address is:

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Offer ends Lag Ba’Omer, May 22, 2011


[Mr. Goodfriend (G) is entertaining Eliezer (E) and his younger brother Aaron (A) on the back porch. Watermelon is being served.]

G.            Last year I visited a farm… and I saw watermelons growing alongside the steps of the… workers’ cottages.

A.            Why did they plant them near the steps?

G.            They did not. In the evenings they had held watermelon feasts on their steps and the slippery seeds had shot in all directions just as they do here. That is the purpose of their slipperiness.

A.            Do you say that they are purposefully slippery? Is that not merely due to the moisture of the melon?

G.            Rub the melon juice [water] between your fingers: it is not slippery. The seeds are coated with slippery mucus which causes them to fly out under pressure. Keep Reading…