| Dream On |

Dream On: Chapter 50

“Devoiry, tell me the truth, are you feeling okay?  Is this trip for some medical purpose?”


Chava rubbed her eyes and reread the pshat of the Maharal for the third time, willing herself to focus. Her preparation time was usually the most enjoyable part of her week, but today her mind was still back in Rabbi Freund’s office.

Their short meeting this morning had been unexpected, as had been his question: “Do you think Tammy Hurwitz has shown enough improvement to warrant her staying on next year?”

Even on the spot, she’d felt the unfairness of posing such a question as a spur-of-the-moment aside. What she should have done was respond with a measured, “Let me think about it.”

Instead, she’d instinctively answered, “Definitely. Absolutely keep her on.” And had been questioning herself ever since.

Had she been right in her confident assurance to Rabbi Freund, when she knew that there was some kind of fishy connection between Tammy and ZeeZee’s center for at-risk girls?

But Tammy had insisted she’d had nothing to do with it. And Chava had chosen to believe her.

Did that give her the right to withhold the information from Rabbi Freund?

On the other hand, she could never have allowed herself to do such terrible damage to Tammy.

Chava blinked and tried to take in the words she was reading. A knock on the door interrupted her focus once again.

She stood up. Whoever was at the door wanted to come in quite urgently; the knocks were increasingly insistent. Warily, she peered through the keyhole — it was Devoiry and her kids. She quickly opened the door.

“Devoiry! Is everything okay?”

Devoiry was busy shepherding her kids inside — who, to Chava’s astonishment, were each carrying little overnight bags. She was even more bewildered to see Devoiry drag a suitcase in behind them.

Only after closing and locking the door did Devoiry turn to her with a wan smile. “Hi, Mommy. Sorry to drop in on you like this, but I need to ask you a favor.”

Chava raised her eyebrows. “Does the favor involve moving in with me?”

Devoiry gave a short laugh that, like her previous smile, didn’t reach the rest of her face. “Um, kind of. I mean, not all of us. But I was wondering if you could take Sari and Yitzi for some time. See, Avi and I need to go away — it’s kind of a sudden thing, long story and…”

Chava’s heartrate quickened as she felt a growing alarm. “Where are you going? And why so sudden? Is everything okay?”

Devoiry sat down on the couch and pulled off her gloves. “Of course, everything’s fine. It’s just a last-minute business trip. It’s kind of urgent we go now.”

Chava was silent as she watched Devoiry, who was still looking down at the gloves on her lap. It was obvious there was something more going on, and equally clear that Devoiry wasn’t interested in telling her the real story. She looked at Sari with her Hello Kitty bag still in her hand and felt resentment bubbling up. Devoiry expected her to just drop what she was doing for the next week and watch her children, with no advance notice? And she didn’t even have the decency to tell her why?

As the silence stretched, Devoiry looked up at her mother — and Chava sucked in her breath. It had been a while since she’d seen Devoiry, and she was shocked by the change in her appearance. Her face was thin and white, and there were lines around her eyes that hadn’t been there before. Panic suddenly gripped her.

“Devoiry, tell me the truth, are you feeling okay? Is this trip for some medical purpose?”

Devoiry shook her head. “No, I’m perfectly healthy, baruch Hashem. Really.” Her smile seemed more genuine this time, and Chava relaxed somewhat. “It’s business-related, like I told you.”

“And you couldn’t even call first? What if I’m not available to take the kids? This seems kind of—” She stopped herself in time from saying irresponsible.

Devoiry stood up. “I know, I should have called. I’m sure this seems strange to you.” She walked closer to Chava, who could now see the gray bags under her eyes. “Ma, can I ask you to trust me? Something’s going on with the business, and it needs my full attention. I know it’s asking a lot, but it would make such a difference to me, knowing that my kids are… safely out of the way.”

She turned her head, but not before Chava saw a tear trickling out of one eye. Her heart ached for her daughter — and for their relationship. Devoiry used to feel comfortable coming to her with her problems. What had changed?

In a softer voice, she said, “Of course you can leave the kids here if it’s that important. Tatty and I are always here to help. I hope you know you can turn to us for anything.”

Devoiry was busy digging in her purse for a tissue, so Chava couldn’t see the expression on her face as she murmured, “Thank you.”


“So, the song needs to be upbeat. I mean, it is a Rosh Chodesh Adar shabbaton. And maybe we can all wear clown wigs. What do you say?”

Tehilla looked hopefully at the girls sprawled around ZeeZee’s and Rusi’s room.

“No way I’m wearing a clown wig,” Miriam declared.

“C’mon, guys, we need to do something spunky for the shabbaton breakout,” Tehilla said. “A red nose?”

“There’s nothing spunky about a red clown nose.”

Rusi interrupted. “How about ZeeZee plays the song on her guitar? She’s taking lessons, you know.”

At the sound of her name, ZeeZee looked up from Shani’s bed-turned-couch, and blinked. “What’d you say?”

Rusi grinned. “We just decided you’re gonna play our shabbaton breakout song on your guitar. Wearing a clown wig and nose.”

“Oh. ’Kay, no prob.” ZeeZee lay back down, until she was hit in the head by a pillow.

“Hey, what’s with you?” Tehilla asked. “D’you, like, even know what we’re meeting about?”

ZeeZee sat up and tossed the pillow back onto her bed as she attempted to focus. “Sorry, guys, I’m with you. Okay, Rosh Chodesh Adar. Sickest shabbaton ever. We’re doing knock-their-socks-off funny.”

But even as she said it, the image of Devoiry’s terrified face swam in front of her mind. She’d been able to think of nothing else ever since her discussion with Mrs. Hurwitz. She needed to help, but how?

Rusi eyed her. “You don’t seem like you’re in the mood for knocking anyone’s socks off right now.”

“How about their clown sheitel, then?”

“Cute.” Rusi waved a hand in front of ZeeZee’s face. “Hello, what’s wrong?”

ZeeZee sighed. She hated feeling so helpless. She’d considered asking her parents for the money… but 500,000 shekels? That was, like, $160,000.

Three pairs of eyes were staring at her. ZeeZee considered them. Maybe they had ideas?

Slowly, she said, “What would you do if you needed to raise a lot of money fast?”

There was silence in the room, and ZeeZee added, “Like, a lot of money. Like, really fast.”

Tehilla whistled. “You in trouble with the mafia?”

Not. Funny. ZeeZee glared. “This isn’t for me, it’s for someone I know. I’m trying to help.”

Tehilla’s eyes narrowed. “Who’s it for?”

“Like it’s your business.”

“Of course she can’t tell us.” Rusi was staring at ZeeZee. “You’re really upset about this.”

ZeeZee shrugged. “Ideas, anyone?”

“What about doing a fundraising event?” Miriam asked. “Like, I dunno, bring in a lady to do a cooking demo? And everyone pays an entrance fee of 20 shek?”

“And we’ll end up with a hundred shekels at the end of the day.” ZeeZee rolled her eyes. “I’m talking major money. Like in the hundreds of thousands.”

Tehilla gasped and Miriam’s eyes widened.

Rusi said, “It sounds like you need one of those online campaigns. What’s it called? Crowdfunding. Y’know, a 24-hour thing where they match your donation.”

Miriam snorted. “And ZeeZee’s going to set this up? From here in seminary?”

But ZeeZee jumped up, a slow smile spreading across her face. “Genius, Rusi! That’s it!”

Tehilla shook her head. “You’re insane.”

“Yup,” she said, feeling the familiar energy course through her. “And I’m going to run the most insane online campaign you’ve ever seen.”

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 768)

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