Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 72 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.
It was when she saw the paper trembling in her father’s hand that Elisheva could no longer contain herself. She suddenly burst into a torrent of tears, but could not find a tissue. Eliyahu stood there, steady and calm, and handed his father-in-law a small pill. “Take this, Abba, please,” he said. “You shouldn’t read this fax when you’re in such an excitable state.”
“Yes, you are right,” his father-in-law said, and raised his eyes. “But maybe give Elisheva one as well,” he added, with a ghost of a smile, as he nodded his chin toward his daughter. “She’s taking this harder than I am.”
“But Abba,” she said, tears still wet on her cheeks. “How can I take it differently? To think that you have family here, perhaps brothers, cousins, their grandchildren…it’s such an amazing story that I still cannot process it! Even simple, regular things change now! Like, how will you now be called up to the Torah?”
“I don’t think that anyone will change the name Yisrael after it has been used for seventy years,” Eliyahu remarked. “At most, you add the name Yosef.”
“One of the counselors on the ship sailing to Eretz Yisrael suggested that my father choose a name from a whole selection that he gave him,” Elisheva said to her husband. “He chose,” she glanced at her father, “a first name, and a family name: Yisrael Bentzion. Everything. He thought he had no one, and that he had to start from scratch anyway…”
Her father took a cup of water, made a brachah, and sipped silently. No one dared to break the stillness.
“Ulush wrote to me about Gustav,” he said, setting the cup on the coffee table. “And that his name is actually Yosef Ludmir.” He took a deep breath. His right leg, which had never gotten back to itself completely after the stroke, began to tremble slightly. “I thought he would invite me to come to him, but he didn’t. We didn’t meet in Israel even once.”
“Now you know why,” Elisheva said, her voice gradually sounding more stable. “It’s actually a way of judging him favorably now.”
“But he once sent me a big gift.”