Dance of the Puppet – Chapter 26

December 26, 2013

purple bookIsrael Book Shop presents Chapter 26 of a new online serial novel, Dance of the Puppet, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters. 

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

On the day Sari Schreibman began working in the office, a letter arrived that threw Yael into a frenzy. The new secretary placed it on the principal’s desk, and Yael, who saw it there, asked for permission to open it.

“What do they want from us now?” she wondered aloud. “Can these be the results of the state tests already? I doubt it. It should be a much bigger envelope.”

Yaffa looked at the official envelope with the unfamiliar letterhead and shrugged. Yael pulled out a single sheet of paper and perused it closely.

“I don’t believe it!” she cried in a tone that even brought Chana running from the outer office. “Are they normal? Tell me, what was wrong? Chana!” she called. “Please get Naomi Bergsas, the history coordinator, this minute.”

Chana quickly checked the class schedules and then replied, “She’s in class.”

“So pull her out! Give this year’s class a retest?! They’ve gone too far!”

The issue must have been very urgent, because Chana suddenly sprang into action. Within a few seconds, Mrs. Bergsas was standing in the office; only now did Yaffa see who she was.

The teacher’s jaw dropped when she read the letter that Yael handed her. “That is so, so unfair,” she whispered in shock. “Total chutzpah, what they are doing there. They told us it would be fine!” Keep Reading…

Dance of the Puppet – Chapter 25

December 19, 2013

purple bookIsrael Book Shop presents Chapter 25 of a new online serial novel, Dance of the Puppet, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters. 

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 


Malka sat up, alert. Ima was calling her; of that there was no doubt.

“Yes, Ima,” she said brightly, as though it was five o’clock in the afternoon and not in middle of the night. Ima had spoken several times yesterday, just a little and very weakly, but she was talking, baruch Hashem. Real words. “How do you feel?”

Baruch Hashem, okay.” Every word rolled heavily off Adina Kotzker’s tongue. “And how…are you?”

“When I hear you speaking, I’m wonderful. Should I straighten your pillow, Ima?”

Her mother waved her hand. “No…” she said with difficulty. “How are the children? You…are here a lot.”

“They’re managing. Mimi helps Michoel at home, and in the end they’re going to discover that they manage much better without me.”

“Mimi’s a good girl,” Adina said slowly. “And she’ll continue to be good, if…you give her the right guidance. How…is school, Malky?”

Baruch Hashem.” Malka swallowed. “It looks like Yaffa Levinsky is doing fine, and things are running pretty smoothly.”

“Yes, she’s…” Adina paused, groping for a word. “Wonderful,” she finally completed her sentence. “And you and Yael?”

A flush rose quickly up Malka’s neck and settled in her cheeks. “Okay. Normal. Yael does more of the hands-on work than I do, but recently I’ve also started to get back into things.”

“What time is it…Malky?”

Malka glanced at her watch. “Four in the morning,” she replied. “Four-oh-six, to be exact.”

“So sleep, sleep,” Adina said, closing her eyes again. “You need energy.”

*** Keep Reading…


December 19, 2013

L648How many mechanchim do you know of who can boast to being appointed by Rav Shach zt”l himself to lead the first-ever yeshivah for “off-the-derech” kids? Probably none—unless you happen to know Rabbi Moshe Goldstein, rosh yeshivah of Yeshiva Shaare Yosher in Eretz Yisrael. Now if that doesn’t say something about Rabbi Goldstein’s credentials as a veteran mechanech, I’d like to know what does!

But you won’t find this talented educator boasting about anything. He’s far too busy doing other things, such as bringing thousands of disillusioned young people back to Torah and educating parents and teachers on how to prevent their children from going astray to begin with.

Rabbi Goldstein has been doing this for forty years, and believe me, when I read his book, UpGrade, I could almost feel those four decades of experience pulsing through each and every page. Having been “in the industry” for so long, Rabbi Goldstein has pinpointed exactly what leads kids “off,” and he has incredible knowledge about the steps we parents must take in an effort to do our best at keeping our children on the right path at all times.

UpGrade is a chinuch book about prevention. In this volume, Rabbi Goldstein shares his vast wisdom and experience with us, so that we, as parents and educators, can b’ezras Hashem avoid the pitfalls that lead children astray. UpGrade does not rewrite the chinuch methods of generations past; rather, it shows us how to adapt our cherished mesorah to modern-day challenges, to today’s generation of children and teenagers. In this way, we can all hope that, with Hashem’s help, we will be successful at raising doros yesharim u’mevorachim and always have nachas from our children.

Click here to purchase online.

Below is an excerpt from this rare treasure of a book: Keep Reading…

Win $100 eGift Card at Israel Bookshop Publications!

December 16, 2013

$100 GA MU

Dance of the Puppet – Chapter 24

December 12, 2013

purple bookIsrael Book Shop presents Chapter 24 of a new online serial novel, Dance of the Puppet, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters. 

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“I’m sorry, Dvir,” Elchanan said. “I have to leave a few minutes early today.”

The employer frowned. “Again?” he asked tersely.


Nu, what should I tell you? Go. Is everyone okay?”

Baruch Hashem.” Except for the restlessness that had suddenly overtaken him and was giving him no rest. His sister Ruth was right. He could be a lot more than a bookstore employee. And if he could, then he had to try.

The interview, the sixth one since he’d begun looking for a new job two weeks earlier, was on the other side of Yerushalayim. Elchanan, who was using the buses to get around the city, had decided that the time had come for him to get a car. Why had his parents sent him for driving lessons? So he could observe the bus driver traveling so slowly and struggling to traverse the congested streets?

This time, he was interviewed by three people. The one on the right had glasses and a balding pate, and he seemed to be the boss; to his left were two others who stared Elchanan up and down but didn’t say a word.

“Resume, please.”

“What’s your family status?”

“Where have you worked in the last year?”

“What was your salary?”

“Do you know how to drive?”

“What is the maximum number of hours you are able to work?”

Elchanan answered the questions calmly, surveying the sleek, elegant office. The interviewers looked at each other.

“Look,” the boss said. “Our company has garnered a very reliable reputation as an antiques dealer in the religious and Chareidi sectors, and we’re trying to break in even more. In order to work here, you’ll need to develop a range of abilities and invest a lot of effort and time. Do you think that is possible for you?”

“Certainly,” Elchanan said confidently.

The interviewers exchanged looks again, and after a moment, the man on the right said, “Thank you. We will examine your candidacy, and if we find you suitable, you’ll receive notice in the next few days.”

“I see,” Elchanan said, suppressing his disappointment. “Thank you,” he added as he left. It looked like he was destined to remain at the bookstore for the time being. In that case, he’d better stop with the frequent absences and early departures that were making Dvir wonder; his normally congenial employer was liable to lose his patience, and then Elchanan would be left out in the cold. It was not a risk worth taking. Keep Reading…

NEW RELEASE! The Tznius Challenge, The Tznius Connection

December 10, 2013

L643There was something that just pulled you to Devorah. When she entered the room, a quiet sort of dignity followed her in. As subtle and refined as her conduct was, she exuded a radiance that was hard to miss.

I met Devorah in seminary. The first time I saw her, I could tell right away that this girl was special. She was the epitome of the word “tznius.” Everything about her, from her kosher neckline, to the demure style of her clothes, to her modest demeanor, shone with a tznius that was…beautiful. There is no other way to describe it.

But the amazing thing about it was that Devorah was no neb! To the contrary, she had a great personality, dressed tastefully, and was a lot of fun to be around. I was amazed at how she personified the fact that being a tznuah and being normal are not mutually exclusive. As Jewish women, we can—and should—be both.

That’s what The Tznius Challenge, The Tznius Connection strives to portray. This beautiful book offers the perspective of dozens of frum women and girls—normal women and girls, like you and me—whom the author interviewed on the topic of struggling for tznius.

Yes, you read that right. This is not just another hashkafah book that will tell you how glorious the mitzvah of tznius is. While you’ll read about that in this book, too, The Tznius Challenge, The Tznius Connection gives most of its focus to identifying the common challenges we all face when it comes to dressing/behaving modestly, and providing chizuk to its readers so that they can feel strong enough to surmount those challenges each day.

We read about the specific challenges in tznius experienced by Bais Yaakov girls, seminary students, teachers, and homemakers. For some, it was the issue of not wearing loud and unrefined clothing and jewelry. For others, the struggle lay in maintaining an eidel composure in public even when just told exciting news. The common denominator of all the “tznius challenges” is the fact that none of them were easy to surmount.

Reading this book will show you that you are not alone in your struggle for tznius. Many others just like you have struggled with this mitzvah—and have triumphed; they now wear the glowing crown of tznius proudly upon their heads.

And like them, so can you.

Click here to purchase online.

RECENT RELEASE! Halachos of Children and Chinuch Habanim

December 9, 2013

L636There we were, a bunch of preteen kids, sitting around the kitchen table on Yom Kippur afternoon, deep in a heated debate. We had just finished eating our “Yom Kippur seudah,” complete with hot cholent and all (“The easiest food ever to serve your kids,” my mother claimed), and now we were ready to bentch. The problem was, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to say “Ya’aleh V’yavo” in bentching. Some of my siblings were of the opinion that we should (“Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, silly! Of course we say it!”). The rest of us thought that we should not, because the bentcher did not give the option of Yom Kippur in its list of occasions for saying “Ya’aleh V’yavo” (“So for sure we don’t! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”). Of course no one thought of finding an adult and asking him or her what we should do; that would be way too easy!

What we ended up doing, I don’t remember. But the  memory of arguing with my siblings over what the halachah was for us, a group of ketanim, stays with me and makes me chuckle when I think of it. Whether or not the barbs we threw at each other was quite in the Yom Kippur spirit, we did mean well—and hey, the argument occupied us for a decent amount of time, keeping us out of our parents’ hair for a bit more of the day!

The truth is, in addition to the above question that we kids came up with on that Yom Kippur, there are many, many sheilos that arise constantly in regard to the halachos pertaining to children.

Does a father need to buy daled minim for his under-bar-mitzvah-aged son? Can a boy dress up as a girl on Purim, and vice versa? May one diaper a baby in a room where there are sefarim? Does a two-year-old need to wait at all between eating a meat meal and drinking milk?

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, noted rav, posek, and author, has contributed a jewel to the Torah world with the publication of his sefer Shema Beni—Halachos of Children and Chinuch Habanim. In this book, Rabbi Weinberger offers a clear and concise primer of the halachos, mitzvos, and customs applicable to minors, as well as the adults surrounding them. He discusses the many chinuch-related halachic questions that come up frequently in every Jewish household with children, and provides documented source material, from the Shulchan Aruch and leading poskim, both past and present, for everything.

If you are a parent who frequently finds yourself wondering if and how various halachos pertain to your child, you will want to check out this sefer.

And by the way, according to page 62 in the book, children, who are permitted to eat on Yom Kippur, do say “Ya’aleh V’yavo” in Birkas Hamazon.

(“See? I told you so!”)

Click here to purchase online.

Dance of the Puppet – Chapter 23

December 5, 2013

purple bookIsrael Book Shop presents Chapter 23 of a new online serial novel, Dance of the Puppet, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters. 

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Quietly and nonchalantly, Elchanan circled the ad in the paper. Before leaving for work, he decided to call.

“Good morning,” he said politely. “You put in a help wanted ad that you’re looking for a sales manager?”

“Yes, indeed,” the voice replied. “Are you interested in the position?”

“I’m interested in hearing more details,” Elchanan clarified.

“It’s a position managing furniture sales, at Brunner Furniture, if you’ve heard of us. If you decide you are interested, we can set up an interview, where you can hear the rest.”

“I am interested,” Elchanan said hurriedly.

The interview was set for that evening. Elchanan told Yaffa he’d be home a bit late, without specifying why. He didn’t know exactly why, but he had no patience to tell her he was sick of working at Dvir’s.

The furniture factory was large and impressive, albeit rather quiet at this hour of the evening. The two Brunners, father and son, sat in the office. They asked the questions as though they had divided them up ahead of time. Elchanan wondered if there had been so many candidates interviewed already that they had the routine down pat. After the older man said, “Alright, we will decide if this is suitable for us and let you know,” Elchanan asked about the terms. He received half answers, as though they had decided that every minute spent with him was a waste of time. He was not wrong. Keep Reading…

NEW RELEASE! 50 Pathways to Parenting Wisdom

December 5, 2013

L644I’m chatting on the phone with my friend about giving Chanukah gifts to our kids’ teachers (a topic for a different article!), when she suddenly stops me and says, “Oh, my parenting teleconference class is starting soon. Let me call you back.”

Parenting teleconference class? I think to myself. Now doesn’t that sound official! And her oldest child is just six years old!

Intrigued, I decide to ask my friend more about this class when I speak to her later. To my surprise, she begins gushing its praises, telling me how the class is totally changing her way of viewing her children’s misbehaviors; how it’s giving her so many practical tools to use when dealing with her little ones; how it’s the best thing in the world; and how every parent on Planet Earth should be taking this course. Well, she doesn’t exactly say that last line—but the message comes through loud and clear!

When I hang up with her, you’d better believe how gung-ho I am about signing up for this “parenting teleconference class” myself!

What is it about parenting our children these days that makes so many of us run to the nearest parenting class available, teleconference or otherwise, without stopping to collect $200 first (though, in the process, we will actually find ourselves paying that much, or even more!)? Are our parenting skills so lacking in all of us that we can’t do our job without the help of professionals?

The truth is, as any parenting expert will tell you, raising kids these days is a whole lot more challenging than it ever was. Between the media and secular influences and it being the “instant gratification” generation, raising children b’derech haTorah in our day and age is up against a lot of struggles and opposition.

Which is why so many parents and educators are turning to professionals for help with raising their children. And which is why parenting classes and books have recently become so popular.

But, as my friend will rush to assure you, not all parenting classes are created equal…and neither are all parenting books.

50 Pathways to Parenting Wisdom is a parenting book in its own class. Written by Shira Frank, LCSW, a social worker with over thirty years of experience, who has been working in private practice for over twenty years and whose areas of specialization include family therapy and parent training, this book offers fifty techniques, all practical and easy to implement, to raising children in today’s world. From teaching children coping mechanisms, to dealing with specific behavioral challenges, to working with teenage issues and unique family situations (such as divorce and step-families), the advice in this book is broad-ranging as it is relevant to all parents of the 21st century. Boasting haskamos from Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlit”a, Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, and Dr. David Pelcovitz, as well as an Introduction by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller, 50 Pathways to Parenting Wisdom is a book that you, as a parent, will want to consult with over and over again on  your child-rearing journey.

May all parents be blessed with the wisdom to know how best to educate each of their children, and may we all have much Yiddishe nachas from our families!

Click here to purchase online.