The Black Sheep – Chapter 39

July 26, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 39 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. 

“I don’t want to ruin any of your plans,” Ariella said, clasping her hands together. “It’s enough that I delayed you until now. If…if you could just bring me to the train station, and accompany me inside to make sure I get on the train and everything is alright, I’d be very grateful.”

“I hear,” Sarah said calmly, “but I’m not sure there is a train now. And, by the way, you didn’t ruin any of my plans. A neighbor put my sister’s children to sleep, and the key is waiting for me on the windowsill. So it doesn’t really matter when we get there.”

“Get where?”

“To my sister’s children. She lives in a new development, and her oldest is in the hospital right now, so she and her husband are with him.”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 38

July 12, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 38 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. 

Ella didn’t respond. She was gripping a suitcase in one hand, and fumbling with the long strap of her handbag with the other.

“Ella?” Sarah drew closer. “Is everything alright? You look…well, not good. What happened?”

“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know.”

“What does that mean, you don’t know?” Sarah put a hand on her shoulder. “You came here like this, looking so frightened and confused… What happened? What scared you? Did you fall? Did you get hurt?”

“N-no, baruch Hashem.” Sarah noticed that Ella’s eyes were fixed on some point up the stairs. Sarah turned around to see what she was looking at; it seemed she was staring at their second floor.

“So what happened?”

“She…she’s an Arab,” Ella croaked. “I saw her in the street. And not just an Arab…she’s half a witch or something, I don’t even know what.”

“Who?”

“Aliza.” Ella took a deep breath. “Aliza. And it’s not her real name.”

“Who is Aliza?”

“The lady I was boarding with.”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 37

July 5, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 37 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. 

“I’m a Chareidi woman from Bnei Brak, and I live in her house…I mean, I was living there until now. For some reason, I was sure she is also Jewish…” Ariella stared at the old lace tablecloth. “It’s a good thing I don’t trust everyone who promises me that she only cooks kosher.”

“What?” Ya’ela Brinkler’s voice rose. “Do you mean to say that she cooked in my kitchen?”

“Uh…yes.”

“But the kitchen is not part of the contract, explicitly! She told me that she’s an older woman who doesn’t need much, and anyway she doesn’t cook, and that she’d manage without the kitchen. And I left it locked! That’s…wow, I’m in shock.” She paused, and Ariella could almost see her shaking her head.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 36

June 28, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 36 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 sat on a bench in the local park on Sunday morning. It was completely deserted at this early hour. Right opposite her was the wall that had already become familiar, to the point of it being boring; behind her was an inviting grassy lawn. She didn’t move toward it. Instead, she sat on the bench like every other mature woman her age, and wondered if Rabbi Reiness would bring his boys here this morning. It hadn’t been this mild and sunny in quite a while.

She fingered the green necklace she’d made with Aliza last week. She had no idea why she’d pushed it into her pocketbook a minute before she’d left, as if these stones could shed some light on the very cloudy picture named Aliza.

She’d spent her Shabbos closed in her room, eating the food that she’d bought. It was actually just fine, not any worse than it had been the previous Shabbos in the Abramov home. Yet she felt like the four walls were choking her. Aliza had hardly been home, neither on Friday afternoon nor on Shabbos, and when she was home, there was no way to discern that it was Shabbos. Which traditional woman did not light Shabbos candles? It was quite bizarre: the woman covered her hair but didn’t light Shabbos candles?

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 35

June 21, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 35 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 strange odor had completely dissipated by the time Ariella opened the door of her room at twelve o’clock, after a short, fitful nap. Now the house was filled with the regular smell of the frying omelet, but Ariella had no desire to go into the kitchen. She glanced at the stand; the plant was back in its place, and there was no sign of any candles. A small orange circle adorned the tile closest to the metal stand, the only evidence of the bizarre scene from earlier that morning.

“Hi!” Aliza came through the doorway of the kitchen and waved to her. “How are you? Did you sleep well? Want an omelet?”

“You waited until I got up to have your omelet?” She tried to sound impressed at her hostess’s consideration.

“No, of course not. I’m running late today because I had to go out. So, do you want an omelet?”

Ariella decided that she would press the point a bit. “No, but thanks for the offer,” she said as she walked toward Aliza. “I have my own food, for today and for Shabbos. But I have to tell you that I didn’t sleep so well.”

“Why? Is the bed not comfortable?”

“No, the bed is fine. But I had some…thoughts last night, and they prevented me from falling asleep.” She didn’t walk into the kitchen; she just stood at the door and watched Aliza, who had gone back to tending to her omelet.

“There are all kinds of ways to deal with thoughts that come at night,” Aliza said significantly. “We have strengths, we have—”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 34

June 14, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 34 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 wound down a long and amusing phone call with her younger sister, during which she’d heard about the latest developments in the fledgling community. A playgroup had opened in one of the houses (with four children) and that had made it much easier for Bassy; the phone lines that had made lots of trouble over the last two weeks had been fixed; the residents had gotten a permit to construct a drainage system after the last two houses on the slope had flooded; and Gadi continued to dream about foxes, but sufficed with all the abandoned and injured birds that he found. And he had a knack for finding them.

She put the cordless phone into the base and walked into the small dining room, deliberating whether to pick up with the oil painting she had started or to cook lunch for tomorrow, her weekly day at the clinic in Haifa.

She found Elazar standing near the back window, his elbows leaning on the sill.

“Didn’t you tell me that you can’t see the lot from here?” she said as she walked toward the table where her started painting and the oil paint set sat.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 33

June 7, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 33 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 small nightlight cast a soft, yellow glow, but the floor of the room was completely black in the darkness. It was impossible to see the interesting pattern of the tiles. Ariella ignored the dark; she’d never been particularly afraid of it. On the contrary, it helped her conjure up lots of magical ideas, interesting thoughts, and countless imaginary scenes. She tossed her soft slippers into a corner of the room and walked barefoot on the floor, creating a figure eight as she walked around the rectangular room. Numerous studies showed that doing so helped with  a lot of things—she’d read that once.

On a chair near the bed was the necklace she had created under Aliza’s tutelage. She couldn’t see it clearly, but its large green stones reflected some of the yellow rays of the nightlight, and it glowed in a strange, greenish light.

The stones were strange; she didn’t think she’d ever wear this necklace, even if it would match one of her outfits. But Aliza hadn’t let her choose. Besides, there hadn’t really been anything better to choose from. Aliza’s stones were mostly quite large, colorful, lumpy, or in colors that were too bold for Ariella’s taste.

She was happy here. Yes. The freedom was refreshing, and it was helping her air out; it eased the weight that had been resting on her shoulders in recent months. Sometimes, she felt like she didn’t know what she wanted anymore, but it was Aliza who had caused her to actually put things out on the table, between her stones and threads and beads. That had been good.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 32

May 31, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 32 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, haven’t you been taught that even when you are upset, you never run away from home?” Reb Elazar asked as he opened his huge black umbrella. “Were you never taught that?”

“I’m learning disabled, Rebbi,” Osher said, gazing at the rain that fell steadily beyond the protective boundaries of the umbrella. “I don’t grasp things easily. And even if I do get it—I forget quickly. Where are you taking me?”

“Nowhere special. I just came here.”

“What’s ‘here’?”

“The old part of Acco. I’m a little familiar with this area.”

They stood across from a sandy lot. In the middle of it stood a brick structure that was neither new or old; it looked desolate and ramshackle. Behind it were a few slats of wood, remnants of a gate of some sort, or a pen.

“What is that?” Osher squinted. “Was it once a cowshed?”

“I think it was actually a stable,” Rabbi Reiness said in a dull tone.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 31

May 24, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 31 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. 

Back to the Present, 2015

“I moved to a new place yesterday,” Ariella commented, returning her chair to its place, her session having just ended. She knew she was Sarah’s last client for the day, but for some reason the therapist remained seated. Ariella could not decide if she was looking at her directly, or half an inch above her. But the gaze was interested and warm—not pressuring.

“I’m hoping that that means new mazel,” she continued. She didn’t mean “mazel tov” when she said that, but the thought flashed through her mind that she could think of at least three women who would be sure that that was what she’d meant. It was all well-intentioned, she knew. Still, she liked Sarah’s type of intentions better: the latter merely nodded.

When the silence lingered, Sarah asked, in her American accent, “How is this new place?”

Baruch Hashem, it’s very nice. She’s a widow, sixty-five years old, who rents out rooms. I actually thought she was younger at first.”

“And she’s nice to you?” Sarah smiled.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Sheep – Chapter 30

May 17, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 30 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 sat in the little room, not knowing what he was waiting for. He had not been assigned a prison uniform when he entered, though he’d heard from others that that was what usually happened. He just passed by the reception room, and his escorts said something to the soldier who sat there, and continued further inside with him. A long corridor, steep stone stairs, and here he was, with his own clothes.

If he was not mistaken, at least two hours had passed since he had been brought here.

There was one narrow window in the room, and Binyamin rose toward it. He looked out at an empty pit between the high walls, filled with thorny summer flowers. A cool sea breeze whistled between the tall stone walls and reached him, cooling his sweaty forehead. He was still thirsty. And he still had no idea what was going to happen to him today. But he tried to focus on the fact that despite it all, it was not the British who would render his fate, nor would it be the Jewish policeman who had displayed a modicum of empathy. It was not even his own father, who was certainly scrambling about right now, trying to exercise his connections to make it clear to the British that this entire arrest was one big mistake.

There was only one Decider.

Read the rest of this entry »