| Dream On |

Dream On: Chapter 55  

“Mrs. Edelman, sorry to disturb, but I wanted to make sure I caught you. Can you please stop in at my office before you leave?”


Chava felt her face burning as she walked through the school hall. Was it just her imagination, or were all the girls staring at her? Keeping her gaze trained straight ahead, she headed into her classroom.

The buzz of conversation stopped immediately.

Stop being paranoid. She frowned at herself as she placed her books on her desk. Devoiry had told her clearly that this fundraising campaign was being kept private. Just ZeeZee and one or two more girls. Why should she imagine that she was now the talk of the entire school?

Chava looked up and the faces of 20 girls gazed back at her with unusually rapt attention.

Because you’ve been teaching seminary girls for 30 years. And you know very well that you are the talk of the entire school.

She cleared her throat and tried to stand up, but her knees felt shaky. The faces in front of her seemed to be filled with pity. And embarrassment. And, most of all, suppressed curiosity. All it would take, she realized, would be one intrepid girl to raise her hand and ask, “Mrs. Edelman, is it true that your daughter’s in trouble with the Mafia?”

And all of the respect, the dignity, the pedestal that she’d worked so hard to stand on for 30 years as a teacher and exemplar of a Torah life — all of it would crumble in an instant.

For the first time in her career, Chava didn’t feel capable of teaching.

The silence in the classroom was broken by the squeak of the door opening. Rabbi Freund stuck his head inside.

“Mrs. Edelman, sorry to disturb, but I wanted to make sure I caught you. Can you please stop in at my office before you leave?”

“Of — of course,” she said, and he waved his hand in thanks and ducked back out.

She turned to the class even more discomposed than before. She looked down at her notes, with the elaborate chart she’d prepared comparing Rashi, Ramban, and Ibn Ezra on the topic of Cheit Hameraglim they’d been learning.

Maybe she should dismiss the class? Say she wasn’t feeling well and give them a free period? Or do what those young teachers like Shira Litwin do instead of teaching — throw out a question like, “Do you think the shidduch system is unfair to girls?” and let the students debate it among themselves for the next 45 minutes?

Chava tapped her fingers on her notebook. The girls certainly wouldn’t complain if she did either of those options. But she would know the difference. She’d know she’d failed them.

Chava squared her shoulders. She was, first and foremost, their teacher. Closing her eyes briefly to draw her strength, she stood up.

“Girls, please open your Chumashim. Today we’re going to learn an incredible Ramban….”


Rabbi Freund looked particularly grave as Chava stepped into his office.

“Sit down, thanks for coming by.” He shuffled some papers on his desk, and Chava could tell he was gathering his thoughts.

At last, he looked up. “Mrs. Edelman, I was really sorry to hear that one of your family members is going through a financial crisis. If there’s anything I can do to help—”

Chava sucked in her breath. “Thanks for your sympathy,” she said stiffly. “I didn’t realize that the news had spread. I certainly didn’t intend for that to happen.”

Rabbi Freund’s eyes widened. “No? Then it wasn’t you who—” He stopped and tugged on his beard.

“Who what?”

He sighed. “Who reached out to the entire Shvilei alumni list from the past two decades asking for donations to help your daughter.”

Chava stood up so fast, her chair clattered to the floor. The blood was pounding in her head. “The — entire — alumni — list?”

This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t.

“Noooo,” she said weakly. She clutched at Rabbi Freund’s desk.

Rabbi Freund was looking at her with alarm. “I’m very sorry, I didn’t know that this would be news to you. I thought — I thought that you were the one who’d sent out the request.”

Chava’s eyebrows shot up. “You thought that I would ask for… for… tzedakah from my students? Rabbi Freund, how long have you known me?”

“I did think it was out of character,” he admitted. “I was quite surprised when I started getting the barrage of emails yesterday.”

“What did they say?”

“Some were from concerned alumni, asking about you and your daughter.” He pulled off his glasses. “Others were from parents of students, wondering what was going on. Some thought we were taking advantage of their daughters.”

Chava slumped back down in her chair and buried her head in her hands. “I can never show my face in this school again.”

“What I want to know is, if you didn’t start this campaign, who did?” Rabbi Freund’s voice was grim.

Who did? Chava clenched her fists against her face, as she felt anger course through her. Tammy Hurwitz! And after all she’d done for her, this was how she was repaid? Humiliating her in front of all of her current and former students — just so that Tammy could play the hero once again?

Chava looked up, her eyes blazing. “I think I can tell you exactly who started it.”


Tammy hung up the phone and turned to Yehuda, a broad grin on her face. “That was ZeeZee. She’s already raised close to $50,000! And it’s only been one day!”

Yehuda looked up from his sefer and whistled. “Sounds like she has a career as a fundraiser ahead of her. She did this all with just a few phone calls to her parents’ rich friends?”

“Yeah!” Tammy’s grin faded a bit as she went back to clearing the lunch dishes from the table. “I mean, I assume so. I didn’t actually sit next to her while she was making the calls.”

Yehuda looked at her sharply. “But you reviewed with her who she’d be calling, right?”

“Nooo. But I told her it needs to stay small.”

He paused. “You do know that your definition of small might not be the same as a teenager’s definition?”

Tammy winced at the condescension in his voice. “Thanks, but I think I know the mind of an 18-year-old girl just a little better than you do.”

Yehuda quickly backed off. “Great, glad to hear. I just wanted to make sure you were keeping your word to Devoiry.”

“Of course I am.” But she chewed on her lip as she wiped the crumbs off the table. Had she given ZeeZee a bit too much latitude? Maybe she should have insisted on approving every detail of ZeeZee’s plan. “It’s just that I hate giving the girls the impression that I don’t trust them,” she murmured.

Yehuda caught the words. “There are some situations where trust isn’t called for.”

Her phone rang again, and Tammy blanched when she saw the name. Rabbi Freund. Somehow, every single time he’d called this year, it hadn’t boded well for her.


“Hello, Mrs. Hurwitz. Would you have some time available this afternoon? I need to speak to you about something urgent.”


Tammy had already had two very uncomfortable meetings this year in this office, but somehow, she’d never felt as scared as she did right now, sitting opposite Rabbi Freund and watching him twirl his glasses between his fingers.

At last, he cleared his throat. “I assume you know why I’ve called you in for this meeting.”

Tammy shook her head mutely. The only thing she could think of was ZeeZee’s campaign — but was it against the rules to allow a student to raise tzedakah money for someone?

Rabbi Freund raised an eyebrow. “Is it true that you’re the one spearheading the fundraising campaign for Mrs. Edelman’s daughter?”

“Um… yes,” she said nervously.

“Without asking her permission?”

“Of course not! Her daughter Devoiry gave me permission!”

Rabbi Freund peered at her. “And it didn’t occur to you to ask Mrs. Edelman’s permission as well? Before reaching out to hundreds of her current and former students?”

Tammy’s mouth dropped open. “Hundreds? ZeeZee said she’d speak to her parents and a few other people who could help.”

The menahel tilted his head. “You mean to say that you weren’t aware of the direction this campaign took?”

Tammy shook her head anxiously. “I wasn’t. I promise, I had no idea. I told ZeeZee to keep it really small. I thought that’s what she was doing.”

“I see.” Rabbi Freund tapped his glasses on his desk for several moments. “Mrs. Hurwitz, you’ve had several incidents of what I’d call lapses of judgment this year. But this is the most egregious yet. To allow someone else’s honor and reputation to be placed in the hands of a teenage girl, without an attempt at supervision?” He leaned forward. “To allow an entire school’s reputation to be placed in her hands?”

Putting his glasses back on his face, he said, “This is the kind of incident that can damage a school forever.”

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 773)

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