The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 54

May 25, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 54 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. 

“Tomorrow, Abba’s going to take us to the sofer, and we’re going to see the almost-finished sefer Torah,” seven-year-old Yitzy informed his brother, who had come home from yeshivah for Shabbos. “Do you want to come with?”

“I’ll see it at the hachnasas sefer Torah, b’ezras Hashem.” Binyamin smiled and parked his wheelie suitcase near one of the beds in the large boys’ room. It was the first time he was coming home for Shabbos since the new furniture had arrived and the final arrangements of the rooms had been made.

“You’ll sleep with Shuey, Meir, and Yitzy,” his mother had told him a few minutes earlier when he came home. “Put your things in the second room—the big one, and then come back here to have a drink.”

Something about her voice was a bit loaded, and he looked at her quizzically. Then he went to put his things down.

“This is the room with the most kids!” Yitzy explained to him proudly. “We’re four. Ima gave the little kids a different room. And the girls got the really tiny rooms—Riki and Devoiry in one room, and Esty and Chani in another. Poor girls. It’s so boring to be with just two people in the room.”

While Yitzy was talking, Meir, who was older than him, stood there and gazed at Binyamin.

Binyamin stared back. “Is everything okay, Meir?” he asked.

“Yes. Just that Ima said that if you don’t want to sleep in the room with us because it’s too crowded, then she’ll give you the last room, near the one that will be Saba’s. It’s empty now; we just dump stuff in there.”

Nu?” Binyamin asked.

“So, do you want to move to there?” Meir’s lips protruded in a pout; he already seemed offended.

“No,” his eighteen-year-old brother soothed. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy it here with you very much.”

“And you won’t feel too crowded?” Shloimy, who suddenly burst into the room, asked. Binyamin chuckled. “If we all slept together in the old dining room, and it was just fine, why should it suddenly be crowded for me now?”

“I heard a neighbor here saying that she heard that before we moved here, we had a ‘miserably tiny house.’ She was talking to another neighbor.” Shloimy rubbed his chin. “I’m not sure what that means, but I know what ‘tiny’ is, and I know what ‘miserable’ is, right?”

“Right,” Binyamin affirmed.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 53

May 18, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 53 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. 


“Hello.” Elisheva was sitting on the porch, breathing deeply. One of the gifts Eliyahu had bought her for Pesach was a cordless phone. The cord on her regular phone had reached almost every corner of her old house, but in this apartment she could hardly stretch it from the fridge to the counter in the kitchen.
During the evening hours, Elisheva discovered just how wonderful Eliyahu’s gift was. She could make her daily calls to her daughters on the porch, seated on one of the old dining room chairs that had been banished from the dining room in favor of the new, elegant, wooden and upholstered chairs—a gift from U’shemartem.

“This porch looks like a junkyard like this,” Riki had grumbled, when she saw that only six of the old chairs were going to the garbage, and the others were being moved to the porch. But when she also discovered the wonderful experience of sitting and watching the twinkling lights in the darkening city spread out before her, she didn’t say another word about it.

But now, the porch belonged entirely to Elisheva. Riki and Devoiry were finishing with cleaning up the kitchen, and she was taking a break to hear about little Shmully’s latest antics. But the phone call was not from Miri. Instead—

“Hello? Hello?” The woman on the other end sounded impatient.

“Yes, hello, I hear you.” Elisheva replied.
“Good, good. Is this the Potolsky residence?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Are you the ones from the sefer Torah?”

“I’m sorry?” Not that Elisheva did not know what she was referring to, but the sentence was worded so strangely, and the tone was so accusing, as though she was asking, “Are you the ones from the famous robbery?” or something like that.

“Well, ‘sorry’ might be a very good thing for you to say, but we’re not up to that yet. Let’s start like this: are you the donors of the sefer Torah?”

Her syntax had improved somewhat, but the tone was the same—somewhat aggressive.

“Who is calling?” Elisheva asked as she leaned back. This chair was the only survivor of their original set of six, purchased twenty-one years ago. It was actually in excellent shape.

The caller was silent for a moment. “Why?” she asked.

“Because something about this call sounds strange to me, so I’d like to conduct it in a normal way, step by step.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 52

May 11, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 52 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. 

Elisheva walked through the rooms, opening and closing doors and drawers. The children would be thrilled when they’d get home from school. They really could use normal beds, dressers, and desks—all part of the package of furniture that had come with the new apartment. She had been rather taken aback by the generous standards they’d been allotted by the catalog sent to them. It was a catalog from a reputable carpentry firm, and it had been delivered by courier. Tucked into the front cover was a handwritten list of the items they could choose from. They had called the company to place their order, and today, less than two weeks later, the order had arrived. It was perfect. Beautiful. New.

“Ima?” Riki called to her. She and Devoiry had stayed home to help their mother organize the family’s possessions into the new dressers and closets. “Where should we put the boys’ winter clothes?” She used a knife to slice the tape open from one of the cartons that had been waiting patiently to be unpacked.

Elisheva opened the door at the bottom of one of the dressers. It was a high quality, pressed wood dresser in shades of blue and yellow. It had five drawers with car-shaped navy knobs, and a cabinet at the bottom with shelves in it.

“Here,” she said. “Did you finish in your room?”

“Yes.” Riki was quiet for a minute. “Ima?”


“There’s an empty wall in our room. The one where the old homework desk will go.”

Nu?” Elisheva asked as she joined them, smoothing the stacks of clothing, and reorganizing the piles of corduroy pants that had become messy. She sorted sweaters into sizes.

“I want to paint that desk mint green, like our new dresser. Can I?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“And do you think we could order a few cubbies to hang over the desk, with the same colors, light wood and mint green? It shouldn’t be expensive—probably around a few hundred shekels.”

“It sounds like a cute idea.”

“I can do it in Chani and Esty’s room, too. We’ll buy them a small desk, and we’ll paint it maroon to match their beds and dresser.”

“You have energy to do it all? Then be my guest. I’m sure they will love it,” Elisheva said. Again, something clenched in her heart when she saw her daughter’s eyes light up with joy. She and Eliyahu, with all their love and good will, had never been able to allow themselves to spend “a few hundred shekels” so easily, with hardly any thought. And Riki and all of them knew that now everything had baruch Hashem gotten easier—but it was not because of their father or mother, but rather because someone was giving it to them. Tzedakah or not, raffle win or not. Whatever it was, it was because someone from the outside was succeeding where she and Eliyahu had failed. For all their efforts, with Eliyahu’s tea, the work she had taken on, everything—it had still always been a struggle for them.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 51

May 4, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 51 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. 

“Will you come up to us for a cup of coffee, Abba?” Elisheva joked as they walked slowly down Chazon Ish Street. The joke was not about him actually coming up, but more about the cup of coffee, because Elisheva did not recall the last time she had seen her father drinking coffee. However, she was rather doubtful about the visit as well.

“Perhaps,” her father replied, surprising her.

“How nice! This is a route that you can walk, and the doctor recommended that you walk as much as possible.”

“And back?”

“Taxi.” Without meaning to, Elisheva found herself talking tersely, like her father. She smiled, and so did he. He must have also noticed.

“We’ll see,” he said. And they continued walking slowly.

“Everyone will be thrilled to see you, Abba, and for my part, we don’t even have to order you a taxi for the way back; you can stay with us. I think the nursing home is really wondering why you are still there. It looked like Emmanuel was really angry at me, as if—” she smiled bitterly—“as if he wants to get you out of there, so he persuaded you to buy the raffle tickets.”

“Maybe.” He smiled.

“You think so?” Her smile morphed into a laugh. “Because I simply can’t imagine that there is anyone in the world who would want to get rid of my father from anywhere! Besides, it’s one thing to persuade you to buy the tickets, but I don’t think he was also able to arrange for you to actually win.” She continued walking in silence alongside her father, watching his cautious steps.

“I…” she began again, but then fell silent. “The truth is…” She just could not organize her thoughts into a coherent sentence.

Abba continued walking patiently. He appeared to be studying the busy traffic on the road to his left, but Elisheva knew that he was listening to her every word.

“It sounds strange,” she said finally. “But what would you say, Abba, if I would tell you that I have a feeling deep down that this apartment that we won…well, it’s not really true?”

He turned to look at her.

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