| Family First Serial |

For Granted: Chapter 45

Do you really expect to get a donor to commit to matching half a million dollars by calling him on the phone?


Dini gripped the phone in her hand. It was time to bite the bullet and reach out to her family.  She needed a matching donor to get this campaign off the ground. With any luck, her father would offer to be that person. Or, at the very least, suggest friends to contact.

She paced back and forth in her home office. These were her parents, for heaven’s sake. Why was she so nervous?

Because, once again, she’d be little Dini who couldn’t succeed without their help?

Sighing, she punched her father’s number.

He picked up on the first ring. “Dini, what a nice surprise.”

It was true, she usually called Ma. But that was because her father was generally too busy for phone calls. Three-word texts were more his communication style.

“Yes, I know, it’s been a while since we’ve actually spoken. How are you?”

“Baruch Hashem, can’t complain.” He paused for a millisecond. “Listen, I don’t mean to rush you, but I’m about to go into a meeting. Did you need something?”

So much for cozy small talk. Maybe that’s why she’d always had trouble relating to her father.  He could discuss a business deal for hours with Eliana and the boys, but the types of things that interested Dini were not topics he knew how to deal with intelligently — and he did not like conversations where he didn’t feel in control of the subject. Ever since she was young, he’d respond to her prattles about school, camp, friends, clothes, with a “very nice,” before passing the conversational baton over to her mother.

Okay, cut to the chase it is. “My organization, y’know, Chesed Tzirel, is planning a major fundraiser. It’s our first ever and I want it to be successful.” Success was a key word with her father.

“We’re looking for a matching donor and I, uh, wondered if—” She swallowed hard, but that didn’t help unstick the words in her throat.  She coughed. “If you have any friends who might be interested in supporting a medical organization that helps Anglo olim in Israel.”


She clenched her fist. Why hadn’t she been able to ask the question outright: Would you be willing to be our matching donor?

“I might know someone,” Ta said cautiously.

You can’t even ask your parents for money, and you think you’ll be able to approach strangers?

“Off the top of my head—” He paused, thinking.

You have no problem charging his credit card for tens of thousands of dollars. How is that different from asking him for a tzedakah donation of that amount?

“Shimon Reiss may be willing. He likes medical causes; he just donated an ambulance to Hatzalah.”

“Mmm.” And what will you do when—

She blinked. Wait, what had Ta said? Quickly grabbing her notepad, she asked, “Can you repeat the name?”

“Shimon Reiss. And Benny Tropp, he’s another one you might want to try. Between you and me, he’s an easy touch. He gives to everything.” It was clear from his tone of voice what Ta thought of people who give to everything but, personally, Dini was grateful for such people. She put a big star next to Tropp.

“Great!” she said. “Anyone else?” Like you, Ta?

“Or… Oh! Schiller. Yossi Schiller. Young fellow, must be around your age. He davens in our shul, approached me a while back for real estate advice. He recently closed a big deal, and threw a $50,000 kiddush to celebrate. That type.”

Dini could picture Ta’s smirk. While he had no problem spending in a big way when warranted, he had no patience with throwing around money just for the sake of showing everyone you have it.

“Those tacky nouveau riche,” she muttered with a grin.

“Hmm.” She pictured Ta trying not to smile, and she grinned wider. “Anyway,” he continued, “he’s probably ripe for taking his next step up in the world, which is, of course, a pet tzedakah cause.”

Dini laughed. Ta might not have her mother’s social finesse, but this hard-nosed assessment of a person’s underlying motivator and predicted next step was what made him such a resounding success at business. Not to mention his knack for spotting the potential opportunity before everyone else.

“And what makes you think Chesed Tzirel will become this cause? We don’t have a building name to offer him. Or, y’know, a dinner to honor him at.”

“Check with Mommy to confirm, but I heard they have a child with a medical condition. Pays to go for it, you never know.”

“Makes sense.” Even though, in her opinion, nothing about the idea of calling a complete stranger to ask them to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars made the least bit of sense.

“Try those three first and if they don’t pan out, get back to me.” Her father’s voice told her that the conversation was over.

“Thanks, Ta, I appreciate it.” And she did. She knew her father couldn’t be comfortable having his daughter solicit his friends for mega-donations. “Can you send me their contact info?”

“Sure. Just shoot a text to my secretary, and she’ll get that for you.”

“Amazing, I’ll do that.”

“She can also take care of booking your flight.”

Dini blinked. Huh?

“We have no plans to travel until Pesach,” she said. “And we’ve already made those tickets.”

There was a short silence on the phone. “Dini, I thought you had fundraising savvy. Do you really expect to get a donor to commit to matching half a million dollars by calling him on the phone?”

And just like that, little Dini felt stupid once again.


Ayala opened the passenger door and helped her mother out. As she removed the shopping bags from the trunk, she watched her mother make her painstaking way up the steps, clutching the railing for support. She resisted the urge to grab Ma’s other arm; it was important that she be independent.

She looked down at the bags in her hand. Independent? Neither of her parents were currently in a state to drive. And even once Ta’s back healed, who would shlep groceries for them?

She walked up to the porch and waited as her mother fumbled with the key. It was more than just shopping, which, she knew, could be solved by teaching her parents how to order online. No, the real issue was much more pervasive. Her mother was getting forgetful, and she tired so easily.  She was having trouble managing the simplest household tasks; she seemed perfectly happy allowing Ayala to take over the cooking and cleaning and laundry.

But Ayala was leaving in three days.

Ma finally managed to twist the key in the lock and open the door. She sighed as she walked into the kitchen and sat down. “Phew, shopping really knocks you out, doesn’t it?”

Ayala put the bags down on the table and began unpacking them.

“Thanks, dear. I should help you…” Her mother made a feeble effort to get up, clearly waiting for Ayala to wave her back down.

“It’s fine, you’re tired.”

Ma nodded. “Maybe I’ll go take a nap.”

Ayala looked at the clock. It was almost time for lunch. Ta would walk into the kitchen any minute expecting to be fed. Would her mother think of that, too?

Ma stood up slowly, shuffling out of the room. As Ayala put the milk and yogurts in the fridge, she heard her father’s voice. “What’s for lunch, Esther?”

And her mother’s response. “Lunch?” she asked vaguely. “I don’t know, ask Ayala.”

Ayala’s lips tightened. Was an aide the answer? Zev would say yes — in fact, that had been his solution when she’d discussed her worries with him the other day. But Ayala was convinced that this was the wrong approach. It wasn’t just the expense — though, while she wasn’t as familiar with American insurance plans as the Israeli ones that she knew like the back of her hand, she doubted that her parents would qualify for coverage, and their pensions didn’t stretch very far. It was more than that. Having an aide would set her mother back even farther on her road to recovery.  She needed to regain her independence, not become even more dependent on another person.

She took a loaf of bread and cottage cheese out of the fridge and began preparing her father’s lunch. If an aide wasn’t the answer, what was? Zev? He meant well, but he didn’t really have the — she supposed fortitude was the word she was looking for — to care for their parents properly. Just look at the cheesecake incident. When she’d reminded him about Ma’s strict diet, Zev had shrugged her off. “Lighten up, Ayala. One piece of cheesecake won’t kill her.” And Ayala had been forced to watch her mother eat the cake with childlike triumph, as if she’d scored one over her daughter.

Three more days. If only she could stay longer. Ayala shook her head. What was she thinking? She had a family waiting for her back in Israel, a family that needed her. Not to mention an entire chesed organization.

But her parents… face it, her parents needed her, too.

Ayala gave a sudden gasp, knife arrested in midair. Yes! That was the perfect solution!

She’d bring her parents to live in Ramat Beit Shemesh.


“…and he, like, took it as a given that I’d be flying in to speak to these guys in person. He said you can’t make such requests on the phone.”

Dini wrinkled her nose, as she relayed the conversation to Shuki.

Shuki tilted his head. “He’s not wrong.”

Dini let out a puff of air. “No, of course he’s not.” In fact, her father was never wrong. “But what happens if I really, really, really don’t want to?”

Shuki looked at her curiously. “Why not?”

Her eyes widened. Why not? “Well, for one thing, do you really want me to fly off and leave you to manage everything here by yourself?”

Shuki held up his hands. “Hey, unfair move, blaming it on me.”

Dini dipped her head. “Fine, I just… It makes me nervous, okay? Like, before that conversation with Adele Samson, I practiced my lines for days, and I was able to hold my cheat sheet in my hand. Still, I was scared like anything.”

“But you were successful.”

She shrugged.  “Beginner’s luck.”

Shuki shook his head, but Dini ignored him. She raked a hand through her sheitel as she walked around the living room. “Remind me why I got myself into this,” she muttered. “I could’ve been perfectly happy continuing to organize meals and letting Ayala run herself ragged working as a speech therapist and—”

She stopped. “Hold on a second. Ayala! Ayala’s in New York right now!” She laughed out loud. “Why didn’t I think of that before? Ayala can go speak to these people.”

Shuki threw her a dubious look. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Because I think you—”

Dini waved him off, grinning from the immense relief of having discovered such a brilliant solution.

“I think it’s a perfect idea.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 897)

Oops! We could not locate your form.