The Black Sheep – Chapter 49

October 18, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 49 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Binyamin? Binyamin, do you get a mazel tov?” Shikovitzer pressed the telephone receiver to his ear. There was a lot of static on the line, and he could hardly recognize his young friend’s voice. “Binyamin?”

“Yes, it’s me. Hello, Mr. Shikovitzer.”

“Do you get a mazel tov, Binyamin?” Yitzchak repeated the question.

“Me? Not yet.”

His former neighbor was shocked. “But I met your father…”

“My younger brother got engaged,” Binyamin said lightly. “To a girl from a wonderful family, baruch Hashem.”

“Oh, so I guess I didn’t understand your father.” An awkward silence ensued on the Yerushalmi side of the line. “We met for a moment as I got onto the bus and he was getting off. He told me something about an engagement…I thought he was talking about you.”

B’ezras Hashem, b’ezras Hashem.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 48

October 11, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 48 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Hey, Butan!”

Emmanuel Bitton smiled at the man amiably. “Yes, Sa’id? Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. Can I have some more of your stuffed things?”

Bitton smiled and pointed to his “waiter,” a barefoot youth who was walking among the diners holding a huge elliptical-shaped bowl filled with mangrove leaves that were stuffed with rice and raisins. His mother’s recipe really used meat, but that was too complicated to obtain.

Someone walked in to the small restaurant with a heavy, slightly uneven gait. Bitton tensed— it was one of the prominent effendis of the Al Alami family, who had cast fear on the other Arabs of Acco. If they would begin with riots and ambushes against the Jews of the Galilee, of which Acco was a part, they would almost certainly draw the others to follow them.

“Hey, effendi!” Emmanuel called. “Salaam aleikum! Come, have a seat, here’s a clean table. Ahbed! Come and give the gentleman a large portion!” The boy came over with a smile and asked the effendi what he preferred. The guest sent him away with an impatient wave of the hand, and the boy scurried away, offended, to Emmanuel.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 47

October 4, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 47 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Acco, 1947

“I spoke to them, Mr. Shikovitzer,” Emmanuel Bitton said as he sat down on the wooden chair. His eyes scanned the small, sad apartment. “It was just an exploratory conversation, to start with.”

Nu, what did Mahmoud say?”

“He actually looks to me like someone who can be easily persuaded. He is very aware that the land is yours and not his. But on the other hand, he has friends and family, and they won’t let him give in so fast.” Bitton raised his eyes. “Besides, I didn’t quite understand. What will you do with the lot now? You don’t intend to live there, right?”

“Not to live.” Zelig’s father closer his eyes and then opened them. “It’s a hekdesh lot.”

Hekdesh?”

“Since I bought it when I came to Eretz Yisrael, I dreamed of building a shul on it. I even saved up some money to do that. But I waited for more Jews to come to Acco, you know, and while I was waiting, I used the lot for my business… Only when I was hiding from the rioters in 1929 did I decide that if I would be saved, and I would get the lot back, I would not continue to use it for horses and buggies; I’d build a shul on the property.” He smiled morosely. “For now, I daven here every day, at the Kosel, the holiest site we have. Still, I cannot stop thinking about that place. I invested all my money there, and my dreams…”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 46

September 20, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 46 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Acco, 1947

“Hey, Mahmoud!” Issam Abu Rafij sat down on the edge of the bench on the lot in Acco. Mahmoud, the owner, was already sitting there, leaning back and tanning in the sun. “What’s with that wheel I bought you? You didn’t fix it yet? What’s going on? You had too much work this morning?”

Mahmoud ignored the snide remark and sufficed with waving a tool that Issam could not identify. “Your wheel will be fine in half an hour,” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me it’s urgent?”

“It wasn’t urgent for a day, or two, but now it is. What do you do all day, Mahmoud, besides smoking your nargilah?”

Mahmoud just shrugged. Then he sighed. “You know, one day Yischak will come back, and he’ll be angry that everything is such a mess.”

“Yischak will not come back,” Issam corrected him. “What’s with you? The Yahud ran away, and they’re not coming back to our Acco.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 45

September 13, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 45 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“This Dr. Kreisman is an interesting guy,” Osher remarked as he clicked the seatbelt closed.

“Is he?” Rabbi Reiness smiled broadly. “What did you see that makes you say that?”

“First he looked like a really simple type, you know…” He searched for an example. “I don’t know, like someone who works at a different kind of job. But then, the minute he started with his questions and papers, he became so professional. Like, all the way.”

“He is a very unique person.”

“He’s a childhood friend of yours?”

“No.”

“Oh, right, I forgot that he told me that you know each other through his son. I thought for a minute that he was in the same class as you, like Yosef.”

“Yosef? Which Yosef?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 44

September 6, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 44 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Are you going home, Ima?”

Bassi raised her eyes from her pocketbook to her sleepy son. “Yes, Yisrael Meir. Aunt Sarah should be here any minute, and she’ll spend the night with you.”

“How will you and Abba get home?” He seemed to be struggling to formulate coherent thoughts despite his veil of grogginess. “There’s no bus…” He sighed. “From Haifa to there.”

“We’re staying in Haifa, sweetie—it’s fine. We are staying in this cute little apartment, and Abba is learning in a kollel here in the city, for now.” She put the pocketbook down and leaned toward him.

“But I heard you saying on the phone that you don’t really like the apartment they gave you here.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 43

August 30, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 43 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The lavender scent suddenly weakened, and Rabbi Reiness took a deep breath. “You are one hundred percent right, Reb Yigal,” he said. “It really doesn’t make sense, in a way, and it is exclusively my fault. Throughout the beginning of this process, I thought that Osher was in touch with you. Our approach is to rely on the boys’ responsibility and maturity, because after all, they are not twelve-year-olds.”

“In a certain sense, Osher is still a lot like a twelve-year-old,” Mr. Erenbaum snapped as he slid his pen holder from side to side on his desk.

“And I was wrong,” Rabbi Reiness continued, ignoring the comment. “I should have made sure that he was coming to us with your support and approval. When I saw Osher the first time, I got the impression that he had one foot in the street already, so pulling him out of there and bringing him to Acco seemed of vital importance to me. The question of whether he had told his parents or not was secondary.” He leaned back in the chair. “Don’t get me wrong. That same evening that I took him to Acco, while he was in my car, I asked him what his parents had to say about it.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 42

August 23, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 42 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Sarah Reiness joined the children on their van to Tzefas. She was Bassi’s only relative in the country, and it wasn’t only her little sister’s house and children who needed help. Bassi herself, in the hospital, needed her. She left Ariella at Bassi’s house; the younger woman reassured her that everything would be just fine in her absence. “And whatever doesn’t get done probably doesn’t need to get done,” she’d added with a smile.

Sarah wasn’t nervous. She’d smiled, waved goodbye, and left with the kids, after dropping off two-year-old Malka at the playgroup run by one of the neighbors.

Ariella locked the door and looked around. Remnants of the morning rush were evident wherever she looked, like in most normal houses. The fact that the children hadn’t made their beds this morning was perfectly understandable. And she knew that there were many homes like this, even if in the house where she grew up, there was no such thing as leaving your room before making the bed.

She walked into one of the bedrooms, stepping over a few pairs of pajamas that had been tossed onto the floor just in front of the door. The sheets were half off the mattresses, and she resolved to tuck their edges into place before she’d push the beds underneath one another. When did the kids get home? Sarah had said it was in the late afternoon hours. She hadn’t said anything about a meal, and Ariella had no idea what was permitted, and possible, to cook in this vegan home. Bean sprouts with mint leaves? Spinach in date honey with a quinoa and zucchini stir- fry?

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 41

August 9, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 41 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

He has a communication problem.

Reb Elazar Reiness did not know where those words popped into his mind from, but he woke up with them in the morning. It was no wonder that he was thinking about Osher when he arose. Because when you talk about a person for nearly an hour, and then fall asleep for two and a half hours, it’s likely that that person will dominate your thoughts both when you’re asleep and when you wake up.

Rabbi Reiness did not recall having any special thoughts about Osher while he was asleep; apparently, the one hundred and sixty minutes he had gotten had been devoted exclusively to recharging himself. But the minute he opened his eyes and bent down to wash his hands, he saw Osher in his mind’s eye.

“Are you going now?” he heard Sarah’s sleepy voice ask.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 40

August 2, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 40 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

He had never been a coward, not even on those nights when he’d wandered around without finding a place to sleep. In the end he’d always returned home, perhaps because he really was a coward but just couldn’t admit it.

Osher shrugged and headed down the stairs. Maybe in a few years he’d be able to say of himself that he was afraid now, too, but just did not want to admit it. Regardless, he needed to check now what was going on here, with this place. The Rav had said that he was leaving for the night because he and his wife had to babysit their nieces and nephews. The problem was that a few hours ago, there had been a suspicious figure standing on the corner of the block, facing the house, and he hadn’t moved for a long while. Would the person use this opportunity, when the Reinesses were away for the night, to try to get what he wanted?

Osher did not know what the person wanted, but he knew that he would not allow the stranger to get in, no matter what. He could not see from afar if it was the Arab who had once knocked on the Reinesses’ door, when their son was home, because the man had been partially concealed by the hut on the corner, and the minute Osher had gone down to the street, he’d disappeared.

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