The Black Sheep – Chapter 19

February 22, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 19 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. 

Ariella spent the rest of Friday exploring the streets near her small apartment. It was refreshing to see children wearing velvet yarmulkes, and young men in suits and hats, walking briskly with a typical Erev Shabbos purposefulness. Not that she could ignore the rolling Arabic that she heard as well, as Arab women in their distinct garb, pushing strollers and surrounded by children, passed her by.

Her Shabbos was ready, and there was nowhere for her to hurry. She studied the buildings; some were very well kept, while others were just the opposite. She noticed the clean sidewalks and streets and wondered about the lack of traffic lights both for vehicles and for pedestrians. She did not see Osher, or any other youths that could have been his friends in whatever learning framework he was in. Just at the end of her walking tour, she found an Arab woman sitting under a massive umbrella with a few buckets of flowers. Ariella selected two modest bunches, paid for them, and then, in the rain that had begun to fall, walked back to her temporary home.

When she entered the building, she hesitated, not sure whether or not to knock on Miriam’s door. There was a little mat near it, and she decided to leave one of the bouquets there, where her hostess was sure to find it. She placed the other bouquet in a plastic cup on the small table in her room, and leaned it against the wall.

Shabbos was about to descend on the world.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 18

February 15, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 18 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. 

One thing managed to beautify even this dirty patch of yard outside her window: the sunrise.

Ariella woke up at four-thirty in the morning, and because she’d gone to bed relatively early, she couldn’t fall back asleep. She rose, washed her hands, got dressed, and stood near the window. A slow, dark rain dripped down, and Ariella thought that when the sand near her window turned into mud, the whole scene would be even less attractive.
But at that point, she still could not see much of anything. It was all so dark, and she was able to hear the raindrops more than actually see them.
Suddenly, something cleared up, and despite the cold, she opened the shutter slats and stuck her head outside. A patch of black sky appeared, and Ariella fixed her eyes on it, ignoring the drops that rinsed the window bars clean from the dust and continued straight onto her cheeks. The sky was still dark, but something at the very edge, somewhere near the next building, began to lighten a bit. Gradually, the color of the sky became lighter and lighter. The raindrops glistened in the reddish glow, and a wet ray of light bounced off the freshly washed stones of the wall, giving the garden a different look, as if it wasn’t filled with overflowing garbage cans, and there wasn’t a cat trying to hide in the shadow of the open cover of one of them.

“I don’t know what to tell you…I just don’t think so.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 17

February 8, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 17 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. 

Bracha and Shulamis sat at the table peeling carrots for the soup, and Bassi slid a pan into the oven.

“That’s it!” she announced gaily. “We’re almost finished. Who wants to go keep the little ones busy? And who wants to put linens on the beds in the shed?”

“Who’s sleeping in the shed?” Bracha asked.

“Uncle Elazar’s students. And Uncle Elazar and Aunt Sarah will sleep in the guest room.”

Shulamis went out to make the beds in the shed, which was actually a small caravan connected to the house with a door; it had an additional door to the outside as well. On nice days, Bassi used the shed as a playroom for the children, and on cold days, as a storage room for the endless mountains of laundry, sacks of vegetables that Aryeh brought her from Tzefas, and lots of other things that there was no room for in the house.

Shulamis switched on the light. The floor was full of scraps of paper from Gadi’s paper boats. Piles of laundry that had been sitting securely on the old recliner were already spilling over onto the floor, while dozens of pieces of Kapla and Clics were scattered all around the room. Only then did Shulamis realize where so many of the pieces from the box in the house had disappeared to.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 16

February 1, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 16 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 put down her bag, yawning after a long day’s work. All she wanted now was a piece of chocolate and a listening ear. She found the chocolate easily; the listening ear, though, wasn’t as readily available. To be sure, the ear was there, and ostensibly was listening, but the monotonous and unfocused responses coming from her husband proved that he wasn’t really there. His repertoire of responses was comprised more or less of, “Yes,” “What?” “Right,” “Really?” and a token, “If that’s what you want,” thrown in for good measure.

“Elazar,” she said after a few minutes of talking, “you look tired. Maybe just bentch and go to sleep?”

“I didn’t wash,” he said distractedly. “I just ate a little bit of the squash and mushroom salad left from Shabbos.”

“That’s not enough. How exactly is that going to fill you up?”

“It’s fine, I’m not hungry.”

Sarah looked at the table. “I’ll cut up some fresh vegetables for you,” she offered.

“No, no, thanks.”

“A cup of coffee?”

“No. As it is, I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 15

January 25, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 15 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. 

For some reason, subconsciously, Irit Erenbaum did not want Ariella to go. “Tomorrow?” she asked with obvious skepticism. “Are you sure? It’s Wednesday! Wouldn’t it be better for you to wait until after Shabbos?”

“I would actually be interested to know how he spends Shabbos there,” Ariella said. Her father nodded along. “And I made up with Mrs. Abramov that I’ll spend Shabbos there as well. Everything in their house has the Badatz hechsher, she told me. She seems very happy to have me.”

“She sounds like a very nice lady—I agree with you on that.” Her mother smiled. “But it’s hard for me to think about you being there alone for Shabbos.”

“I won’t be alone, Ima,” Ariella said tersely. Irit didn’t know if she meant the fact that Osher would also be in the area, or that she would be in the home of her host family, or perhaps she was referring to the basic emunah peshutah of every Jew.

“That’s right—you’re never alone. But we will miss you here.”

“And I’ll miss you also,” Ariella said warmly. “But if I need to go anyway, then why push it off? What difference does it make if it’s this Shabbos or next Shabbos?”

“I hope you’ll be back by next Shabbos,” her mother said hastily. Ariella leaned back on the couch and remained silent.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 14

January 18, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 14 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. 

Aryeh’s car stopped near the house, and five sweaty, scraggly-looking children burst out of it. “It’s here! I remember it exactly here!” one of them cried, and dashed up the stairs.

“Oops!” A young man, who almost collided with the boy, stuck out his arm to block his path. “Is that how you run, without looking where you’re going or anything? We both almost went tumbling down the stairs! Where are you rushing to?”

“To our aunt!” the boy said.

“Your aunt?”

“Aunt Sarah!” he said, his tone clearly implying what he thought of this creature who had not heard of his aunt.

“Oh.” The young man pressed himself again the railing, and the child didn’t wait another second. He knocked loudly at the door, and without waiting too long, just opened it. By then, the other four children had followed him up the stairs. Their father, still downstairs, shook Reb Elazar’s hand. Rabbi Reiness had just emerged from the carpentry shop, accompanied by three youths.

Bli ayin hara, a real crew you’ve got here!” Aryeh said to his brother-in-law. The boys nodded politely and then somehow slipped away.

“Look who’s talking!” Elazar Reiness said, looking at the cheerful face that peeked out over the railing from the second floor. “Who is that—Baruch? Hey, kiddo! The railing isn’t very high! Be careful!”

“Yes, he’s not used to such heights,” Baruch’s father said as he and his brother-in-law headed for the stairs. “So what is this, Elazar? You opened an institution? You came all the way here for the carpentry shop? Nu, come on. You can’t tell me stories.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 13

January 11, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 13 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 put her appointments book into her bag and pushed it over to end of the countertop. She looked around for the cover of her pen while answering an incoming call. “How are you, Bassi? How are the kids? How are you managing?”

“Baruch Hashem, wonderful.” She heard the cheerful voice of her younger sister. “Baruch and Gadi went out to chase a deer that they claim they saw. Shulamis and Meira tried to tell them that there are no deer in the Galilee Hills, and they all went out to decide who’s right. Arik and Daniel are playing Kapla here next to me, Malka is trying to knock it down, and Kreindy is sleeping, and that’s it. Oh, and Yisrael Meir is not back from cheder yet, of course.”

“And who was right? I’m curious. Are there deer in the Galilee or not?”

“What else do you want me to know? I don’t even know if there’s enough laundry detergent in the house, and you’re asking me about deer?”

Sarah chuckled. “Would you like to come to us for Shabbos?” she offered.

“With Kreindy? I don’t like traveling with such a small baby in this cold.”

“But how will you be able to cook this way?”

“Oh, the kids help me. You have to see the dips that Shulamis can prepare… I’ll make a challah dough and fish tonight, Aryeh will make the cholent, and we’ll manage just fine.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 12

January 4, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 12 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. 

“Reiness…” Mordechai Reiness knitted his brows. “Which Reiness?”

“His first name is Elazar. From Acco. Or Haifa, actually.” Yigal Erenbaum looked ahead as he gripped the wheel. He regularly gave people rides on his way home; he knew it was a great chessed for them and was happy to help them out. After this passenger got in and thanked him effusively, Yigal’s attention was piqued when he heard that the man’s name was Reiness.

“Elazar Reiness? Oh, you mean my cousin. We were actually just talking about him recently.”

“He’s your cousin?”

“Yes, but we’re not the same age at all. He’s about thirty years older than me. His father was much older than my father.”

“And what does he have there in Acco? A yeshivah? A youth hostel?”

“I have no idea.” Mordechai shrugged. “I just know that my brother was very surprised when he moved back to Acco.”

“Back?”

“Yes, his family lived there when he was a child. My older brothers still remember one single, historic visit they made there.”

“So, why did he move back?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 11

December 28, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 11 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. 

Osher

I opened my drawer and took out the linen with a pattern of colorful squares. Nechemiah sat on a chair near the bed and drank the tea I had made for him. He watched me stretch the sheet over Yeruchem’s mattress, and wave the thick blanket in the air a few times. “So that it should be soft and fluffy and full of air,” I explained as I did it again. I remembered my father waving our blankets in the air. At home, Abba always does that when he puts on the linen. I could never do it as well as he does, but I’m getting there.

“I thought that the only way to do it is to bang the blankets,” he said, his eyes closed.

“So from now on you’ll know that you can also wave them in the air,” I said as I folded it back. “Here you go—make yourself at home.”

He laughed at my joke, but his laugh was hoarse, clearly the laugh of someone feeling ill. He got up, swayed a bit, and then slowly walked toward the bed. He just about fell into it.

“Do you want some Tylenol?” I asked.

“Yes, thanks. I think there is some in the kitchen cabinet, right side on the top.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 10

December 21, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 10 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. 

“Ariella! So good to see you! You haven’t been here for two days already!”

“That’s right,” Ariella said tonelessly. “It’s fine—you seem to have managed without me.”

“Should I make you a tea? You’re very hoarse again.”

Her sister looked at her gratefully. “Yes, thanks,” she said quietly, and sank into a chair in the kitchen, exhausted. “I’m thinking about going away.”

“Going away? Where to?” Lakey hung the milchig dishtowel on the hook.

“I don’t know.”

“Will you take me with you?” Lakey asked mischievously. “Sounds like a magical place, this ‘I don’t know.’”

“You have school.”

“And you have work.”

“My students can wait a bit,” Ariella said dismissively.

“That’s not exactly true,” Lakey said. “You teach about six girls a day, five days a week. So out of all of those, there aren’t some who have tests coming up? Accordion is one thing; you can always leave them some instructions about what to practice when you’re not here. But math?”

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