The Black Sheep – Chapter 4

November 9, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 4 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. 

A few yards past the entry to the Reiness family’s apartment was another steel door, and beyond that was Sarah Reiness’s world. This was where their private home was located; none of her husband’s youths came in there, and she conducted her life there in a tranquil setting: she spoke on the phone to her married children, arranged her meeting calendar, fried tuna patties for lunch for the boys, or painted the sea.

She had already completed seven oil paintings that she’d named “The Sea,” all in the two years since they’d come from Haifa to Acco. They were all painted from the same angle, and were of similar style, but the hues, the boats, and the people on the sandy beach all changed, as if they were chapters in a serial story.

The paintings hung on the walls of the small living room, side by side, and anyone who looked at them could see that the paintbrush had been wielded by an amateur. But Sarah loved them anyway—and so did her husband, Elazar.

The latest painting was the most beautiful of them all.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 3

November 2, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 3 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?” Mindy Kagan lifted her pencil off her paper. “I don’t understand where the x of this equation goes.”

“Here,” her private tutor replied, pointing to a spot on the page.

“This? This is the second question, and I’m still on the first question.”

Oy, you’re right,” Ariella said. “So what did you ask me?”

Mindy looked at her, baffled. “Where is the x?”

“In which question?”

Mindy took a deep breath. “The first one.”

“Oh.” Ariella lowered her eyes to the page. Zichron Yaakov. Hadera. Haifa. Tzefas. Teveriah. Acco. Rosh Pinah. Nahariyah. Which part of the “north” had Osher gone to? She drummed the blue eraser on the table and pictured a map of Israel in her mind. Assuming that Osher had not crossed the border into Syria, where had he been speaking from? He didn’t sound carefree and calm. The sudden silence, the cut-off conversation… She’d need to sit with Abba, Ima, Shoshi, and Lakey and ask them for every shred of information that might shed some light on this very bewildering darkness. Which yeshivah could he have gone to that let him be so cut off from home, and supported keeping his family completely out of the loop?

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 2

October 26, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 2 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’s disappeared?”

Ariella gripped the note that she’d pulled off the magnet board. Osher’s handwriting danced in front of her eyes.

“This time, he didn’t really disappear,” her mother said heavily. Her voice sounded weary.


“He left us a message.”

Me, too, Ariella wanted to say.

“The mashgiach called to say that Osher came to tell him thank you and good bye, and that he was transferring to a different yeshivah. Then we saw the note. He wrote that he…” She fell silent for a moment. “That he loves us, and that we shouldn’t worry about him, because he’s going to a better place.”

“Last time, two summers ago, he didn’t leave a note, right?”

“That’s right.”

“At least he learned something since then.” Ariella’s lips curled into a ghost of a smile. “Let’s hope it’s a good sign.” She was quiet for a moment. “He told the mashgiach he was switching yeshivos?”


“And he didn’t write anything to you about the new yeshivah?”

“No. Just that it’s ‘a better place.’”

“What kind of paper did he write the note on?” Ariella whispered.


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The Black Sheep – Chapter 1

October 19, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 1 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. 

Nestled among Arab houses, both new and old, on the corner of the alley near the sea, was a house surrounded by an opaque fence. The gate was open, and a two-story structure with winding stone stairs around the side came into view.

The visitor, Gad Shimoni, crossed the neglected yard to the metal door on the ground floor. He set his black case down on the ground and knocked lightly. Aside for the echo of his knocks, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. He turned right toward the stairs, beneath which rested a pile of broken boards, bent out of shape due to the rains and humid, salty sea air. The smell of the sea blended with the faint smell of sawdust.

Shimoni climbed the stairs. The higher he went, the more he could see parts of the boardwalk across from him. The tiny area that separated the top step from the door of the apartment was covered in some type of cheap, synthetic grass, and the heavy door bore a modern-looking nameplate that said “Reiness.” Here, too, his knocks did not draw a live soul to the door.

He retraced his steps and had reached the bottom when he heard the gate open. He put on his most official and professional smile. Were the man and his boys coming back?

They met at the bottom of the stairs, but this was certainly not Elazar Reiness. “Oh, good evening!” the new arrival exclaimed when he noticed Shimoni. He stuck his hand out in a friendly gesture. “Did you also come to meet Reiness?”

Mr. Shimoni politely shook the man’s hand. He was clearly Arabic, and his face was familiar. “Yes, I did come for Rabbi Reiness,” Shimoni replied. “Do you know him?”

“A bit. Not much,” the Arab replied. “But I know you, Mr. Shimoni. Truant officer, aren’t you?”

“Yes, indeed, and you?”

“I’m Hussein Abu Abed Al-Alami, the principal of Abu Usmia. You’ve visited us in regard to a number of our students…”

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The Black Sheep – Teaser

October 12, 2020

A dejected, misunderstood teenager whose diagnosis of ADHD follows him wherever he goes, like a depressing black cloud…

His older, widowed sister who feels she can’t get her act together enough to give her future another shot…

What happens when these two siblings find themselves in the remote port city of Akko, away from the rest of their family but still apart from each other?

And what is the mystery surrounding the yeshivah building in Akko, which is suddenly so high in demand by some local Arabs?

Read all about it in The Black Sheep, a new exciting serial by bestselling novelist Esther Rappaport!

The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 73

October 5, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 73 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. 

A new door appeared just a bit further down the hall from the Potolskys’ front door. Elisheva had deliberated what to write on the nameplate, and finally, her excitement over the name “Ludmir” tipped the scale.

The carved wooden nameplate that she had ordered was a nice accent. The children loved dropping in to their grandfather “for just a few minutes.” They enjoyed walking out the front door and going down the hall to knock at his door officially, even though they could have easily crossed the hall inside the house and knocked at the inner door that connected them to Saba’s new apartment unit. He had bid farewell to the senior citizens’ home and had moved in with his family permanently.

Yisrael returned from Minchah together with his grandson Meir, and found his daughter standing at the door, scraping at the remnants of the glue from the nameplate. “Is everything alright?” he asked.

She turned. “Everything is fine, baruch Hashem. Just…”

“Are you expecting guests?” He looked at her, and when she blushed, he smiled and opened the door. Meir walked inside with him, and helped his grandfather hang his jacket on the hook. Elisheva turned around and walked back into her own home.

A few minutes later, she appeared in the room again, through the other door. “I brought you a cup of tea and your pill that you take before eating.”

“Tell me, Elisheva. Is Gustav coming to Israel?” he asked directly.

She blushed again. “Yes. You know me well, Abba.”


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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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