Night Flower – Chapter 47

November 19, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Noa stared icily at the woman, and then immediately turned around, but just beyond the doorway to the store, she saw a few figures standing in the shadow beneath the awning. So she was surrounded.

Grandfather had won.

But she wouldn’t capitulate quite so fast.

Noa turned back into the dim interior of the store. “Excuse me,” she said politely to the woman blocking her way. “I want to pass.”

“You’ll ask your grandfather to excuse you in a few hours, when you get to him, because you’re not going anywhere,” the woman replied with a smile. “You’re coming with me now. I was informed that you have a rebellious nature, but I still suggest that you come with me without making a fuss, if you have a pair of eyes and any sense.”

“Excuse me.” Noa pretended not to have heard a thing. “I need to get my things.”

“Things?” The woman looked at Noa, who was carrying just a small tote bag. “Where are they?”

Noa nodded vaguely toward one of the corners in the store. Excellent. She had no idea when they had begun following her here, but it did not seem that this woman knew where her things really were.

The woman threw a few words to the men standing outside. Noa did not even make the effort to listen. She walked further into the dim bazaar with a confident step, and this time, no one blocked her path. Feverishly she rummaged in her skirt pocket, passing by the shelves packed with all kinds of clothing. She picked up her pace, happy to see that the store was both very large and very messy. Behind her, she saw her guard standing and staring at her.

She bent down behind a circular rack of clothes, and with two presses on the phone, she got to Adi’s number. She only hoped she was home now!

Her wordless prayer was answered. “Hello?”

“Adi? I’m in trouble, in a clothing store at the Central Bus Station.”

“Noa? Is that you?”

“Yes. Remember the code TK4125#224611, okay?”

Behind her she heard brisk footsteps. “Here, my bag is here!” Noa cried and stood up, running to the other side. Without looking backward or trying to listen to the noises, she knew that her pursuer was running behind her.

“Say it again?”

“TK4125#224611.”

“Should I call the police?”

“For now, I don’t think so. They won’t dare do anything to me because—” The phone fell to the floor that was covered in layers of dirt and skittered away when Noa bent down once more. She found herself next to the entrance again. She couldn’t go outside now; they were literally blocking the door. She made a dash toward the right, where she remembered there being a counter with a register of sorts. Yes. There was something there; a saleswoman with a veiled headdress was sitting there, looking totally indifferent to the chase taking place in her store.

“Where’s there a door?” Noa whispered. “Besides the front door.”

The saleswoman didn’t say a word. She rose heavily from her place, and without even taking one step, she stuck her hand out and moved aside a broad metal rack, on which several garish yellow shirts were hanging. Suddenly the darkened space was flooded with sunlight, and Noa leaped through the opening. The door slammed shut behind her and she made a sharp right turn, away from the bus station.
She raced into one of the nearby alleys, hoping that her pursuers would not decide to choose the same one. She ran, stumbling, weaving between the streets and alleys. She knew the game was up. Now she and Grandfather were tied, but she would change that yet. She would reach a safe place, and then she would contact him personally, and clarify her position and the reason why she had launched this game of cat and mouse. She would do what he wanted her to do so desperately, and then she would part from him forever.

With tired eyes, Noa stood on the curb and stopped a cab. “To Be’er Sheva,” she said, and sized up the driver somewhat anxiously. He didn’t look like the kind of person that Grandfather employed.

The trip southward was smooth, with no interruptions. Noa tried to imagine how her pursuers had reacted the minute they realized she had absconded through the side door. Who had begun to chase her, and who had remained behind to report to Grandfather that his rebellious granddaughter had once again slipped away?

But she would contact Grandfather and present him with the facts: The code was no longer exclusively in her hands, and now, she was not the only one who could expose what was in the hard drive from a distance. Anyone who had the code could choose what would suddenly appear on the computer screens of the investigators in Russia—the parts that would incriminate Shlomo Struk…or the parts that would report Grandfather’s role in the whole affair. So yes, Grandfather would get what he needed from her—but it wouldn’t be exactly as he liked it.

Because if she wanted to break off from this chokehold of her family, and forge her path in the world on her own steam, she had to make sure that it would be a secure path. And the only way to do that would be to have the final say with Grandfather.

***

Adi was double-locking the door when the taxi honked downstairs. With one hand she clutched Chana’le, and in the other she lugged the folded carriage. It may have been foolish to take a baby on a rescue-spy-search-aid mission, but she didn’t have where to leave her and she had to find out what was going on with Noa. If it would take too long, perhaps she would ask Racheli Korman to come from Bnei Brak to take the baby. Or perhaps she could ask Racheli for help?

Adi slammed the trunk of the taxi closed and climbed into the car. “The new Central Bus Station, please.”

Within seven minutes, she was paying the driver, and she emerged into the steamy street. She placed Chana’le in the carriage; the baby continued sleeping angelically. Adi stood stock-still for a moment, perusing the passersby. No, Noa was not among them, and she still wasn’t answering her cell phone. Adi pushed the carriage into the building, passing by the security guards. Everything looked calm and normal; no one seemed aware of the drama that had taken place right here half an hour ago—and which could still be going on at this very moment.

Adi had always been the thorough type, and when she did something, she did it all the way. For a full fifty minutes she searched through the whole place, going up and down in the elevators and checking all the floors, corners, and bus platforms. Only then did she decide that she was ninety-nine percent certain that Noa was not there.

So where was she?

Adi looked to her left and to her right, straining her ears to hear any Russian talk. But the only language she heard was Sudanese. On a bench near the optical store that sold sunglasses on sale for just 590 shekels, an old lady sat and gazed at the bundle of helium balloons tied to the entrance of the store. “Excuse me,” Adi said, approaching her. “Did you perhaps see someone around here who looked like she needed help?”

The woman raised her eyes. “Help?” she asked. “What kind of help?”

“Rescue, protection, something like that.” Adi spoke quickly. “A woman who was being chased. Did you see such a thing? Was there any type of commotion here just before?”

“Not at all. How old is this woman? Young?”

“Not very. Something like thirty-five.”

“That’s very, very young!” the woman declared, and then began to think. After a few seconds she said, “No. I didn’t see anything. Call the police; that’s your best bet.”

“Thanks,” Adi said.

The woman squinted at her. “Are you sure this person was really here?”

“That’s what I thought,” said Adi, “but it doesn’t look like it.”

“Why doesn’t it look like it?”

“Because people here are saying they didn’t see anyone or anything like what I’m describing.”

“And who told you that this person was really here, and that this whole chase really happened?”

“She did.”

“So maybe that wasn’t accurate?” the woman asked, and stretched out slowly on the bench.

Adi looked at the shiny floor. Maybe it wasn’t accurate? But…why shouldn’t it be? What reason in the world could make Noa ask for her help and then give her misinformation about her location?

Chana’le let out a tinny wail, and Adi sat down on the bench next to the woman and pawed around in the carriage bassinet for a pacifier. Was Noa in danger now? It was hard to believe. After all, as she’d started to say before the call was suddenly cut off, it was her grandfather who was looking for her. On the other hand, Noa was really, really making an effort to avoid those who were hunting her down so diligently. Maybe that phone call had been deliberately misleading? Noa had said something about her home phone possibly being tapped. Maybe she wanted her grandfather’s people to think she was at the Central Bus Station, so they would move away from wherever she really was?

Adi remained seated on the bench, rocking the carriage mechanically. It wasn’t a pleasant experience to feel like a fool who came charging over in alarm because of a phone call from a friend, without thinking it through first. It was pretty clear that Noa had no idea what her phone call would lead to. Unfortunately, Noa could not be expected to think about others, certainly not at a time when she felt threatened and was on the run.

The baby fell back asleep, and Adi suddenly didn’t have an ounce of energy to schlep back home with her. She lacked the money for taxis, except, of course, when she was putting too much trust in people instead of using her common sense.

Her phone rang, and Adi discovered that not only did she not have the energy to walk half an hour home, she didn’t even have the strength to check who was calling her. But she picked up a hand to wipe away the tears that suddenly pricked at the corners of her eyes, and at the same time glanced at the screen. No, she couldn’t answer Racheli’s call right now, sweet and understanding as she was. Adi would cry, and Racheli would think it was because of her loneliness and the financial problems and the pain and everything. Adi wouldn’t be able to explain that she’d just been insulted by a friend—that was all.

But somehow, Racheli’s smile, even without Adi being able to see it, drove Adi to stand up, and to push the carriage toward the exit of the bus station. She vaguely remembered that there was another exit that would spare her the more roundabout route home, and would shorten the distance significantly. She tried to remember exactly where that exit was.

Finally she found it, a small door in a remote corner of the station, next to the counter where people could check in their belongings. She wanted to walk through the door, but something inside the baggage room caught her eye. There was a pile of suitcases there, and the one closest to the counter was black, huge, and very, very familiar-looking.


NEW RELEASE! Hachi Garsinan

November 12, 2018

At a recent kiddush for a baby girl, who had been named Liba, I overheard an interesting conversation.

A middle-aged man turned to someone and said, “Liba. Doesn’t that mean heart? As in, v’sein b’libeinu binah…?”

When the other fellow nodded, the man shook his head ruefully and said, “You know, as a newcomer to Judaism, I can’t take my understanding of any Hebrew or Aramaic word for granted. Just to know what I’m saying when I daven, I need to spend hours reviewing the basic words that make up the prayers in the siddur.”

Well, I had a whole new appreciation for ba’alei teshuvah after that! Imagine plugging away for hours, reviewing root words, prefixes, and suffixes, just to be able to daven properly! The fact that I, an FFB, can understand, more or less, the tefillos that I say, without having to spend hours studying and reviewing them,  is something that I shouldn’t take for granted!

But the truth is, it’s not just BTs who may have trouble understanding the language of the siddur and of the Gemara. Not everyone is a “language person,” and especially when it comes to learning, trying to understand a difficult concept while simultaneously trying to understand the language in which the concept is written, can be very, very challenging.

The book Hachi Garsinan was written for this reason.

Hachi Garsinanwhich literally means “This is how we say it,” is a one-of-a-kind work which aims to assist those who are learning Gemara but aren’t necessarily familiar with Aramaic, the language of the Gemara. The book explains the origin and meaning of many of the Aramaic words commonly used in the Gemara. In a nutshell, it teaches the non-Aramaic speaker how to understand the Talmud.

Even seasoned Gemara learners, who are fine with Aramaic, have reported being helped by Hachi Garsinan, as the book sheds light on so many nuances of each word.

As the esteemed author of this book writes: “Learning Hachi Garsinan from beginning to end will make you intimately familiar with the Aramaic language, so that when attempting to master a sugya, you will find yourself in ‘familiar territory.’”

There you have it—your “cheat sheet” to help you learn the daf properly.

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Click here to purchase online.


Night Flower – Chapter 46

November 12, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Adi’s parents were not happy, to put it mildly, about the change that had come over their daughter and son-in-law. The change hadn’t yet become firm by the time Adi’s husband passed away, but if they hoped that because he was the leader, without his influence Adi would go back to her “normal” ways, they were mistaken. It infuriated them so much that the ties between them and Adi became very chilly. Adi would call only once a week, before Shabbos.

But this morning, she called. “Ima,” she said, “can Abba come and install a new door for me today? He’ll be paid, of course.”

“A door?” her mother asked. “What happened? Your old door was broken into?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, you poor thing. Where were you? Out shopping or something?”

“No.” A chill slithered up Adi’s spine. “I was home.” Keep Reading…


Night Flower – Chapter 45

November 5, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Chaiky leaned her head on the headrest of the seat in front of her, reveling in these last few moments of being so far from it all. Yisrael Meir was resting on her lap, and she held his little hands, gazing at his tranquil, smooth forehead. Something about Reva Margulies’s warmth, natural demeanor, and pampering care still lingered, perhaps hiding among the containers of food she had prepared for their trip. Chaiky saw how caringly the sandwiches were wrapped in foil and the vegetables cut, and Reva had added two chocolate bars.

Just a few hours ago, they were still standing together, and Reva had spoken to her.

“Remember, Chaiky,” she said, and Chaiky had devoured her words as though Reva was twenty years her senior. In actuality, the age gap was only two years, as they’d discovered this past Shabbos when they had been sitting in the afternoon and reminiscing about their respective high school years. “Remember, Chaiky, that you can call me as often as you want. I’ll literally be waiting for your calls, and if you don’t call—I’m going to call you.” She smiled. “And there’s something else I want to suggest that you do sometimes.” She wrapped the food in Saran wrap and continued speaking, without looking directly at Chaiky. “Today, with all the nice words that people give everything, it sounds almost trite to say this, but it’s such an important thing: talk to Hashem. That’s what I do when the going gets rough for me.” She paused for a minute as she put everything she had prepared into an insulated tote bag. “It’s amazing how a few sentences—but real, sincere sentences—can help.”

If her tone had been the slightest bit schoolmarmish, Chaiky would have been annoyed. But Reva spoke with such candor, and made her feel so cared-for and close to her, that Chaiky had just nodded quietly.

Then they’d had to attend to the last few details before leaving the house, followed by their farewell at the airport and takeoff, during which time Chaiky hadn’t had time to think. When the plane finally reached cruising altitude, Yisrael Meir had begun to wail and fuss, exhausting his mother. When he finally fell asleep, she was so drained that within a few moments, she also fell into a deep sleep.

But now, she had twenty-five minutes left until landing, and if she didn’t want to land back into her life with a big boom, she had better look things in the eye and be prepared. Not too prepared, of course, because not much was left of all those nice, organized plans she had once had. But still, something. She felt a sudden urge to turn to Hashem, but she didn’t know where to start. Yisrael Meir gazed at her with his large eyes, and she hugged him.

“I’m afraid…” Keep Reading…


Night Flower – Chapter 44

October 29, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Adi?” Noa stood on the balcony of the cheap hotel room, the phone pressed to her ear. Even if someone had tapped Adi’s phone wires, which did not seem to have happened, he would not be able to obtain Noa’s new phone number. She had purchased the telephone from her personal and secret account, without even bothering to check if her grandfather’s credit card was still active. First, it was likely that it had already been frozen, and second, even if it was still active, she had no interest in her grandfather receiving information about her purchase, with all its details.

“Yes, Noa?” Adi’s voice trembled a bit.

“What’s doing?”

“Two people knocked here before.” Adi’s voice shook even more. “I didn’t open the door, but they broke it down. You saw it, right? It’s a pretty rickety door. You have no idea how they screamed and howled that they have to speak to you. They didn’t touch my things and didn’t take anything, but…” The tremor turned into a little sob that lasted a second and a half and then stopped. “It was very, very unpleasant. I know that ‘not pleasant’ is just ‘not pleasant’ and not more than that, but…”

“But it’s terrible,” Noa said forcefully. “You and your daughter should not have to suffer from the fact that you hosted me for a night. You just wait and see how they are going to regret scaring you like that.” She didn’t know why she was trying to sound so eager to help, perhaps because when they’d parted, Adi had looked so forlorn and frightened. “I’m going to call them in a minute. But tell me, who lives opposite you? The neighbors didn’t see anything? Hear anything? They didn’t try to help you?”

“I have no connection to the neighbors,” Adi whispered.

“I see. And tell me, do you think they are still on the street, downstairs?” Keep Reading…


Night Flower – Chapter 43

October 22, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Community and Culture Foundation. For the administration, please press one. For accounting, press two. For coordinators, press three. For the secretary, press zero or hold the line.”

Elka pressed three.

“For Yael, please press one. For Chanita, please press two.”

Hmmm… If there was any chance of extracting some information, it was only from Chanita. Elka pressed two and sat down on her rocking chair as she quickly reviewed in her mind what she planned to ask. She couldn’t reveal that Margalit had told her something regarding the expected grant, but on the other hand, she also couldn’t just start asking questions out of the blue.

“Good morning, Chanita speaking.”

“Hello, Chanita. This is Elka Cohen, from Yokne’am.”

“Oh, Elka, how are you? We received your most recent reports. Seems like you’re doing a very good job at your place.”

“You mean the reports from before Pesach?” Elka relaxed a bit. Chanita herself had opened up an avenue for her to ask questions.

“Yes. Your winter activities were quite impressive.”

Chanita, an older, traditional woman, admired and somewhat understood the Chareidi lifestyle, and had always been very friendly with Elka. Still, Elka had to be careful. “Yes, the winter was quite successful, baruch Hashem. Noa contributed a lot toward that.”

“Noa? Which Noa?” Keep Reading…


Night Flower – Chapter 42

October 15, 2018

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

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

The two sisters met at the vort of one of their nephews.

“Margalit! What’s doing? What’s with the grant? Have you heard anything?”

“Heard? Where should I have heard from?”

“From wherever you heard then.” Uh-oh, she was being evasive!

“You realize that I am not usually a partner to what is going on at the Culture and Community Foundation. Those were two one-time incidents. It’s true that the grants are entered into the list of figures that I receive, as their accountant, but first of all, I don’t always get the figures; sometimes another worker in the office does that work. And besides, it’s a report that is generated only once in several months. So I’m not constantly being updated. Tell me, does this cake look like it has peanut butter?”

Elka took a little coffee mousse cup off the sweet table, and then regretted it and put back in its place. “What did you hear?”

“About the kallah?”

“We’ll talk about the kallah another time. I’m sure she’s lovely and wonderful. Do you think Yaakov would do any other kind of shidduch for his Shloimy? I’m talking about the Foundation’s grant, and don’t change the subject.” Elka was usually pleasant and amicable. But there were times when she just couldn’t muster up much of that pleasant demeanor; it happened when something was bothering her very much and didn’t let her focus on anything else but that.

Margalit leaned against the wall. “The last time, the material did not go through me.”

“Margalit, would you stop playing games with me and tell me exactly what you know?” Keep Reading…