The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 59

June 29, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 59 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. 

Yisrael followed two-and-a-half-year-old Nati with his eyes as the child ran. Nati laughed in the direction of his grandfather and then went back to chasing a butterfly.

“The sun here on the roof is divine,” Elisheva said, closing her eyes for a moment. “But on my porch, it’s even better.”

Her father looked at her tenderly and smiled.

“It was nice the other day, wasn’t it?”

“Very nice,” he agreed. “Did you get pictures?”

“The shul promised to send us some as soon as they get them. I’m most interested in seeing a photo of the dedication, of course.” Her father’s eyes were fixed on a far-off point in the sky, and she pictured the words floating on the clouds there, in the same font and size that they appeared on the wooden sefer Torah case, filling the entire frame: In eternal commemoration of the family members of Reb Yisrael Bentzion, who were killed during the Holocaust, and whose names, dates of death, and place of burial are not known to anyone.

“We all enjoyed, and now the children will play “hachnassas sefer Torah” for the next two months. Right, Yitzy?”

“Right,” her son answered eagerly. “Ima, will you let us use the orange blanket for the chuppah tomorrow?” The orange blanket was a velvety, shiny blanket that the children especially liked. It had been an integral part of their game the day before, until Elisheva noticed how they stuck the broom and mop sticks into it to use as poles for the “chuppah,” and she’d told them they couldn’t use it anymore.

“We’ll see,” she said.

Keep Reading…

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 58

June 22, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 58 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? Is this U’shemartem? This is Mrs. Hartstein from London calling again. May I speak to Rabbi Weil? He’s busy again? Honestly, young lady, I’m beginning to think you are being evasive.”

Elisheva, who was holding Nati in her right hand, and keeping an eye on Bentzy as he looked for his father among the people dancing on the street, did not understand how Blumi could possibly conduct a conversation with the thundering drums of the band in the background.

Indeed, she really did not seem to be able to.

“I’ll call again tomorrow. And please let him know that I expect him not to be busy, and to be able to answer my phone call. Perhaps my husband will call instead of me. Have a good day.” She stuck the phone into her designer pocketbook and turned to Elisheva. “If my husband calls, you can be sure that Weil will answer him. Do you see how they’re being evasive when I call?”

“Yes,” Elisheva said. “They are being a bit evasive, for sure.”

“A bit? This is not a bit. I’m not used to having to call four times and still not being answered. I called them four times—can you believe it? The first time was when I was in your house last week. The second time was on Friday, the third was on Sunday, and now is the fourth time. Something here is very strange.”

“Yes,” Elisheva agreed. “It is a bit strange.”

Where was Devorah? Perhaps she could see if Meir and Itzik were next to Eliyahu. From where she was standing, she could not see into the circles of dancers, and she couldn’t ask her new friend to move along a bit, just like she couldn’t ask her to stop investigating this matter of the U’shemartem raffle.

Interestingly enough, as soon as Blumi began digging into the issue, Elisheva realized how much she did not want to discover that these events had been orchestrated by people. Talking about how it was interesting and strange and perhaps someone had done it all on purpose—yes. But to discover that these musings were actually anchored in reality? To realize that someone had decided to take them on as his life project and support them in any way possible, some of them more delusional than others?


Keep Reading…

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 57

June 15, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 57 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. 

Gustav’s counselor looked at the trembling boy standing in front of him. “I am very surprised at you…” he said quietly. “To disappear like that for a whole day? Do you have any idea how much we searched for you yesterday?”

“I had to,” Gustav whispered. “I knew you wouldn’t let me go.”

“And we do let you leave without permission?” the counselor asked logically.

Gustav was quiet. His eyes glistened, and the counselor didn’t know if he was about to let loose. That’s what it looked like, even though until then Gustav had always been a refined, obedient boy.

But Gustav remained silent; only his eyelids trembled a bit.

“Where did you go?”

“I rode…” Gustav said.

“You rode? On a bus?”

A nod.

“Where to?”

“Bnei Brak.”

“Where did you have money from?”

“From Friday’s candy money.”

“So you needed to save up for three weeks.”

“No, I asked four boys for their money.”

The counselor’s eyes narrowed. “You just asked them? And they just agreed to give it to you?”

“I promised to do all kinds of things for them in exchange.”

“Like what?”

“Washing dishes for them, cleaning their rooms, taking notes for them in class…”

“That is not alright at all, but let’s leave that for a moment. What did you go for? What were you looking for in Bnei Brak?”

The sheen in the boy’s eyes dimmed somewhat, and Gustav leaned on the wall. Suddenly he looked a bit pale, almost white.

“Do you feel okay?” the counselor asked, even as he suspected it was a charade.

“No.” The boy was shaking violently now. “I’m terribly cold.”

Keep Reading…

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 56

June 8, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 56 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. 

 “Where is Ima?” Miri closed the door of her parents’ house behind her, and smiled as her younger brothers fell upon their nephew. “You don’t even look at me, so I want Ima.”

“Ima’s on the phone with her millionaire,” Chani said, calmly rescuing the baby from her younger brothers’ hands.

“With who?”

“She has a new friend from England,” Esti explained. “She calls here like twice a day. Don’t ask. They realized that they both went to school in Zichron Meir as girls, but that this Blumi was a grade older than Ima. But they still share childhood memories of Bnei Brak, of school and all kinds of ancient contests they had back then, and that type of thing. As if Ima is bored and needs a new way to fill her time.”

“Twice a day?” The description amused Miri.

“About. Okay, maybe there are days when it’s only once. But trust me, they speak often enough!”

“What does she call Ima about? She’s the one from the silver yad, right?”

“Yes. They are sponsoring the seudah for the hachnassas sefer Torah, and pekelach for the kids. She calls Ima to ask her about every little thing—first course, dessert, what to put in the pekelach, what kind of torches they will distribute to the kids, and what kind of van they should rent for the parade.”

“Van?” Miri opened the fridge, looking for something cold to drink.

“Yes, a van with lights! And a crown!” Yitzy bounced around her, and Bentzy and Shloimy started dancing around the table.

“Shmully also wants to dance!” Uncle Yitzy suggested.

“He will watch you from here,” Miri said, smiling at her son who was still being firmly held by his responsible aunt. “Nu, sing some hachnassas sefer Torah songs so he should get familiar with them already!” Under the cover of the singing-cum-shrieking, as the little ones began dancing boisterously in front of Shmully, she leaned over to Chani and asked, “Is this millionaire lady connected somehow to the millionaire man from Australia? Or this apartment? Or both?”

Keep Reading…

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 55

June 1, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 55 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. 



“Hi, it’s Blumi Hartstein.”

“Oh, hi, Blumi. How are you?”

“Great, baruch Hashem. Listen, how many children do you think are going to be attending the hachnasas sefer Torah?”

“We don’t really know.” Elisheva set down the basket of wet laundry on the windowsill and adjusted the phone that was wedged between her ear and her shoulder. “We have to ask the gabbaim in the shul, and then add our own children to whatever he says.”

“Oh, the procession won’t begin in Bnei Brak? Won’t it be leaving from your house?”

“We would want it to, but it’s a bit too much of a mess to divide a hachnasas sefer Torah between two cities, you know?” Elisheva chuckled. “It will leave from Rav Tawil’s home; he’s the rav of the shul. They’ll finish writing the letters there.”

“I’m asking because we want to donate pekalach. I hope you don’t mind that I feel like I have a part in this hachnasas sefer Torah.”

“You really do have a big part,” Elisheva said warmly. “You are giving the seudah. Tell me, do you have any idea, once we’re talking, if there is room to inscribe a l’illui nishmas on the outside of the sefer Torah?

“It’s not a velvet mantle, you know,” Blumi said. “It’s made of wood. Unless you ordered one with silver as well?”

“No,” Elisheva said, “but my husband got the phone number of an expert wood craftsman, and he’ll speak to him. I want to write that it should be l’illui nishmas my father’s family, but I’m not sure if it’s funny to ask for such a thing, if there’s no room.”

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Blumi said. “But I’ll ask my husband, or my mother-in-law, if I don’t catch him. Both of them should know the answer to that. Do you need a lot of space? Was it a big family?”

“It’s sad.” Elisheva’s laugh was hollow, and lacked any mirth. “There’s nothing to write. My father knows nothing about his family.”

“He knows nothing? What does that mean?”

“He was a little boy during the war, and he was in a Christian orphanage in Bratislava, in Slovakia. When the war ended, he was handed over to Jewish people, but no one had any information about his background. And then he came to Israel, grew up here, and that’s it…”

Oy, it’s scary to think about it.” Blumi rocked slowly back and forth in her rocking chair. “And that’s how you grew up? Without any family on your father’s side?”

Keep Reading…