The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 72

September 29, 2020

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.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 71

September 21, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 71 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. 

Light burned his eyes. He coughed and turned over, and then, drawing on his strong self-discipline, stretched his arms and sat up. It was morning already. Actually, it was almost lunchtime. The sun was strong and too blinding. When had he fallen asleep? And why on the armchair and not in his bed?

Then he remembered: They knew everything.

Against, the pulse in his wrists began to throb rapidly, but not as much as the first time. At least a day and a half had passed since he’d gotten Mrs. Hartstein’s message. It was probably more like two days, based on the location of the sun right now.

He’d come home. He hadn’t eaten or slept, and certainly hadn’t spoken to a soul, or gotten back to anyone else on his list. He’d just paced from room to room, not finding a place to put himself down without feeling like he was choking. This wall belonged to Edo, and so did this couch, and this refrigerator, and the table… And everyone knew. Daniel and his father, and the rest of the extended Ludmir family, had probably heard about it already, and if they hadn’t, they would hear very soon…

He’d continued pacing restlessly, ignoring his age. Every so often, he’d slumped into a chair, drained, and then a short time later, he’d leaped out. He could not sit still. Only after the evening passed, and then the night, and a big chunk of the next morning and then the next afternoon, when he felt near collapse, had he called his doctor on his private line.

“This is…it doesn’t matter who, I don’t know anyway, and you can identify my number even without a name. I received some very harsh news.” He steadied his voice. “I haven’t slept for about twenty-four hours, and I hardly sat down at all during that time. Except for water, I haven’t eaten or drank a thing, and I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. What do you suggest I do now?”

“Wait a minute, this is Joe Ludmir, right?” the doctor asked, insisting on identifying him.

“If you want, for you, yes. And I remember my ID number by heart. At least that is mine.”

“How’s your pulse?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 70

September 14, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 70 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. 

“Are you with us, Mr. Ludmir?” The young rabbi of the Bnei Tzion community felt very sympathetic toward the elderly yet energetic man.

“Yes, yes, absolutely,” Ludmir said, with a broad smile that was meant to cover up the fact that it was not absolutely at all. On his way here, he had passed by Alex’s house—or rather, the house that had been Alex’s. He’d stopped the car at the side of the road. Yesterday, the buyers had closed on the house and had gotten the key.

He raised his eyes to the five-story structure, the building in which he had spent so much time in recent years, since Martha had passed away. He opened the car window and gazed at the house thoughtfully. In parting.

You were everything to me, Alex had told him in the good days, the times when they could still speak normally and imagine that everything was still fine. When they could hope that those murky, foggy hours that separated them would not come again. You were for me a father and mother, brothers and sisters, a wife and children. Everything.

Alex was also the only survivor in his family, but he had always known where he had come from. World War Two broke out when he had been in his late teens, and ended when he was over twenty. It left him totally alone in the world. He had never married or had a family, and in the community here, everyone was his relative. Since Joe had become partners with him more than thirty years ago, the two were more like brothers.

You’re even closer to him than to Elisha, your cousin! Martha would marvel about the close ties between the two. But the reason for that was clear: Elisha wasn’t present. Seventeen years after they had established the shoe factory together, Elisha had sold his share to Joe and returned to Israel. Only his son, Daniel, had stayed behind in Perth. “Our only relative on the continent,” Martha would point out, because all her brothers and sisters and their families lived in America.

Joe would not bother to correct her.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 69

September 7, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 69 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. 

Maybe he’d gotten mixed up, her father had said.
That sentence echoed in Elisheva’s mind the whole following day, both at work in the morning, and during the busy afternoon with the children at home. Even later in the day, when Miri popped in with baby Shmully, and when Tzippy also turned up without calling in advance. Throughout it all, as the large dining room filled with cheerful shouts and cries, just like the dining room in the old house, Elisheva remained thoughtful. She made a large vegetable salad, fried omelets, put up a pot of soup for lunch the next day, and packed containers of food for her married daughters. And she kept asking herself: what would be if Ludmir had made a mistake?

The only Ludmir she’d ever heard of was that friend of her father’s. And if indeed, he was the millionaire who seemed to be behind all these strange events over the past ten months, then it was very likely that there was a mistake here. What did he and Abba have with each other these days? What was this sudden spirit of philanthropy toward her family that had taken hold of Ludmir?

And based on what Emmanuel had blurted yesterday to Eliyahu, it was not just a spurt of generosity; Ludmir considered this an old debt. That just made the whole thing even stranger.

“Ima?” Tzippy finally asked before she left. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, baruch Hashem,” she said, putting a facsimile of her regular smile on her face. “And how about with you? What’s with that substituting job at the cheder office?”

“Oh, like I told you before, I’m going there this week also. My friend Avigail is moving to her apartment in Modiin Illit, so I’m taking over the subbing job she started. Didn’t you hear me telling you about it before, Ima?”

“Oh. Maybe I was in the kitchen just then,” Elisheva said quickly, widening her grin. But when put-on smiles are stretched, they don’t really grow; they just become more transparent and fake.

So Tzippy had been telling her about her subbing job. Oh. She hadn’t heard.

What would be if they would have to give everything back?

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NEW RELEASE: Oh, Brother!

September 7, 2020

Oh, Brother!

“Mazel tov, what did she have? …Another boy?!”

A relative of mine has seven boys in a row, bli ayin hara. It came to the point where, when we’d hear that she’d given birth, we’d hardly had to ask what she’d had—because of course it would be a boy. (One of her kids was once overheard saying, “I think my mommy only knows how to have boys!”) And then, after all these boys, the mother actually went on to have…a girl! And afterward, miracle of miracles, another girl! Yes, two all-frilly princesses living in a very boy-oriented house. Who would’ve ever thunk…?

If your family’s “boy-girl scheme” is tipped heavily on either side, of if your kids have ever grumbled about where they’re placed in the family order, Oh, Brother! is one book you’ll want to own! It’s an adorable story, written by popular children’s author Dishy Schiffman, about Tzipporah, the not-so-happy only girl among a bunch of brothers. The takeaway from the book is the fact that every family’s “boy-girl scheme” and order has been custom-designed by Hashem, who takes each member of that family into consideration while planning it out. Oh, and that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side of the fence! If you don’t believe me about that, just ask Tzipporah’s Bubby…


Click here to purchase online.