| Jr. Fiction |

Holiday in Gibraltar: Part 2    

 “Do you think we’ll make the flight?” said Yanky. “How long do you reckon it would it take for us to walk and then swim to Gibraltar?”



here was chaos on the road outside school where the bus was waiting to take Camp Yeshivas Ohavei Torah to the airport for their flight to Gibraltar. It was raining heavily, and the boys’ suitcases were getting soaked. Danny’s mother had brought him in their old minivan with the broken windshield wipers. His grandmother had come along as well, which was slightly embarrassing, but it meant so much to her and he really couldn’t say no. She could never get over having such a clever grandson who could study those heavy books filled with Hebrew and Arabic, as she insisted on calling it. She climbed out of the car with her cane, despite the rain, and pressed a £10 note into Danny’s hand.

“Make sure you spend it wisely,” she said, which was really exceedingly embarrassing, and Danny couldn’t help going very red and wishing she had given it to him at home.

Mrs. Halpern wished Danny goodbye and escorted her mother back to the car.

A resounding clap on the back announced the appearance of Yanky.

“Do you have to do that?” said Danny. “I can barely breathe now.”

“Do you think we’ll make the flight?” said Yanky. “How long do you reckon it would it take for us to walk and then swim to Gibraltar?”

There was no time to consider this possibility, for at that moment Yehoshua Blau’s flimsy suitcase fell apart as it was loaded onto the bus. Yehoshua was several years younger than Danny and was almost in tears at the sight of his belongings strewn over the sidewalk, and to make matters worse, his precious cufflinks, which for some reason he had been carrying in the pocket of his pants, had disappeared.

Danny and Yanky looked at each other.

“Have you got a spare bag? My suitcase is bursting,” said Yanky.

Danny looked at his carefully packed suitcase. He gave a little sigh because he had been rather proud of the military precision with which he had packed it, but he knew he could probably get most of the contents into his knapsack and the rest into Yanky’s.

He went over to Yehoshua and listened to his tale of woe.

“Are you sure the cufflinks were in your pants pocket, not in your jacket pocket?”

“They were in my pants,” said Yehoshua, his hand automatically reaching into his jacket. “There’s no pock— oh,” he said. “It’s here.”

“Whew,” said Danny.

Yehoshua picked up Danny’s suitcase, now full of his own belongings. “So I’m good.”

Forgetting all about Danny, Yehoshua shouted to the two men loading luggage onto the bus. “This is mine. Careful with it.”

He walked off to join his friends, tears and trauma quite forgotten.

“Nice,” said Yanky. “You ought to charge a fee for your assistance.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Danny. “I like to help.”

“Still, a thank-you would be nice. Really, what’s the matter with the kid?”

But Danny’s kindness had not gone entirely unnoticed. Rabbi Ganz motioned to him across the playground and Danny, shrugging in surprise at Yanky, went over to talk to him.

Rabbi Ganz shook his hand. “First of all, I haven’t wished you mazel tov yet on your big win. You gave a lot of people pleasure, and I’m sure you’ll give even more nachas to Klal Yisrael in the future.”

Danny gulped. This was so unexpected.

“I’ve been watching how you handle the younger boys,” said Rebbi Ganz. “You’ve got a nice way with them and you’re an excellent role model. So we were thinking you might take the new boy under your wing.”

“Zvi Leader?” said Danny.

“Exactly. Look, let’s keep this quiet, but Zvi is having a rough time at home, so he needs a friend. Rabbi Shine and I will be there for him, of course, but it would be good if you could reach out to him a little.”

Danny blushed. It was an honor to be taken into a rebbi’s confidence. He remembered when he’d been the new boy, an outsider from a different school, trying to make friends with strangers. It hadn’t been easy.

“I don’t see him here,” said Danny.

“Yes, well, he couldn’t make up his mind if he was coming till half an hour ago. Rabbi Shine went to pick him up. Here he is now.”

Danny turned and saw Zvi staggering through the doorway, weighed down by a huge knapsack. He was also carrying two large suitcases. Rabbi Shine was attempting to take the suitcases from him.

“We couldn’t stop him from bringing it all,” said Rabbi Ganz.

“How’s he going to lug it all around?”

“He’s going to have to leave stuff in the hotel.” Rabbi Ganz sounded anxious. “I hope we’ve done the right thing, bringing him. He might be very homesick.” He looked at Danny. “Do you think you can help him?”

“I’ll try. I hope I’ll—”

“Don’t let it spoil your own vacation,” said Rabbi Ganz. “We’ll give you as much support as we can. Thank you, Danny.”

Rabbi Ganz’s phone rang just then and he almost shouted into it. “What now?” He turned to Danny quickly. “Sorry, I’ve got to sort this new situation out. Two boys are stuck in traffic. Daven we don’t miss the plane.” And with that Rabbi Ganz scooted off.

Danny stood watching the throng of boys round the bus. Someone tall in the middle seemed to be half assisting the men loading up and half making trouble, teasing them by lifting each case high in the air, showing off his strength, and then letting it go suddenly so the two men had to dodge out of the way. It wasn’t nice to watch, but it seemed to give plenty of amusement to everyone else.

Chillul Hashem, thought Danny. Why does he always have to show off?

It was Yitz Green, of course, the tallest boy in the school, immaculately dressed for the trip, perfect white shirt, razor sharp crease in his pants. A sixth sense must have made Yitz turn, suitcase held high in the air, to stare at Danny. It was only a moment but it sent a chill through Danny. Then the spell was broken and turning round again, Yitz threw the case down at the two men, and the crowd around him gave out a cheer.


“And what have you been discussing with Rabbi Ganz?” said Yanky, coming up behind Danny.

“He wants us to take care of Zvi Leader.”

“He’s coming? He’ll need a nanny.”

Danny shook his head. “Don’t be mean. He’s a new boy.”

“He sure is. Didn’t he get the list of stuff to bring? I’m sure it didn’t say the kitchen sink.”

“I don’t know why Rabbi Ganz asked me to help,” said Danny.

“It’s a compliment,” said Yanky.

“But Zvi won’t like it,” said Danny. “And look who’s coming over now.”

The luggage compartment of the bus was now closed and Yitz Green was sauntering toward them, his hat tipped back at an angle.

“So how’s the new genius on the block?” he said. “Is nice Rabbi Ganz encouraging you? He says the same thing to everyone, you know.”

It was like a slap, and Danny, realizing his mouth was open, closed it firmly. He would not be drawn into a fight.

Yitz watched Zvi Leader struggle with his huge knapsack, an ironic smile playing on his mouth.

“Now why don’t you go and help the poor kid? Isn’t that what a future gadol would do?”


Half an hour later, miraculously everyone was on the bus, and they were ready to go. Yanky nudged Danny. Rabbi Shine had asked Yitz Green to look out for Zvi, who was now seated next to him.

“No comment,” said Yanky.

Danny shrugged. “Look, it’s the best thing for Zvi. Being under the protection of the most popular boy in the school will be good for him.”

“Let’s see how long it lasts,” said Yanky. “Isn’t it funny how I always think the worst of people and you always think the best?”

And as if to confirm Yanky’s worst suspicions, Yitz got up from his seat and came back to where Danny and Yanky were sitting.

“Just a word of advice,” he drawled, looking at straight at Danny. “Stick to your own kind. Know what I mean?”

Then, winking at the boys in front, he swaggered back to his seat.

Danny had gone very red. “What does he mean? My own kind?”

“He’s jealous, don’t you see?” said Yanky. “He saw Rabbi Ganz talking to you as an equal and he didn’t like it.”

Danny bit his lip. “I wish I hadn’t come.”

“That’s exactly what he wants. He doesn’t want you around. He’d be really happy if you went home right now — then he’d have no competition. Anyway, Zvi needs you.”

Danny leaned back, his chest thumping madly, as if he were in danger. How crazy was that! The only thing in danger was his pride.

Rabbi Shine had begun taking attendance. Danny closed his eyes and let the sound of the voices wash over him. He’d studied a map of Gibraltar the night before. The coastline was full of caves, and he was looking forward to exploring them. They were also going boating and rock climbing. What was not to like?

He took out the map and studied the coastline of Spain and the Rock of Gibraltar. How insignificant his vanity seemed in the face of Hashem’s creations. He could survive every taunt and jibe if he reminded himself of that.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 947)

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