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Picture This: Chapter 1  

“The créme de la créme of Boston society, here to say mazel tov”



straightened his hat, then tilted it ever so slightly to the side. There, that’s the angle.

He gave his reflection a little salute. Yonah Rosen, married man. As of five days ago, that is. Well, he was ready. He turned around briskly to find his wife (!). Estee had three little bags spread out on the console and was scrutinizing each one. He left her to the decision that he could offer absolutely no advice on and looked around happily.

“How cute is this chassan-kallah apartment? I remember my siblings staying here after their weddings. The Cohens go all out for this mitzvah — did you see the Just Married joke sheet Mrs. Cohen left on the counter?”

Estee looked up, a guilty expression on her face.

“Oh, I was wondering what that was… I used it as a coaster for my coffee.”

Yonah blinked at her.

“Oh! That’s okay. Totally okay. It was just some lines about marrying Mrs. Right, first name Always, blah blah.”

Estee smiled faintly and scooped up a black sparkly bag. “Okay, this is the winner.”

Yonah punched the air. “I was rooting for that one.”

Estee wrinkled her nose. “You were?”

Yonah laughed. “Uh, maybe….”

The shul basement simchah hall was gleaming, the aroma of hot mushroom salad wafting around the supportive pillars. Those pillars had caused quite a stir in their heyday — the moulding was Victorian and elegant and incentivized the Ladies’ Auxiliary to go with a royal theme for three Purim seudahs in a row.

From his vantage point on the basement steps, Yonah looked on appreciatively. The room was teeming with family and friends alike; he spied his first-grade rebbi chatting with his old pediatrician. Bouncing on his heels slightly, he turned and smiled at his wife of five days.

Sheva brachos number five! The créme de la créme of Boston society, here to say mazel tov.” He grinned. “I feel like there’s a Boston creme doughnut joke in there somewhere. ’Kay, are we fashionably late yet?”

Estee looked at him, eyes wide, and nodded slowly. Yonah smoothed the rim of his hat, cleared his throat, smoothed his jacket, and gestured at the simchah hall.


His wife — ! — nodded her agreement. He felt bad, it was probably overwhelming to enter a roomful of people you don’t know in a city you haven’t yet grown to love. But she would. They were moving to Lakewood, true, but Shabbosim in Boston once a month was something they’d agreed on, and he knew she’d soon feel the same way about his hometown.

You couldn’t help loving it — the people, the food, the parks.

He continued down the stairs, Estee following at his heels.

The couple was spotted immediately; Yonah was pulled into a wild circle of revelers.


Yonah smiled hugely, made an “I’m drowning” gesture in Estee’s direction, and was immediately swept away by the crowd while his bride stood regally, surrounded by the people he’d grown up with. All the pieces of his life came together in such a beautiful way. He was a happy man.

Estee was miserable. And a little bit traumatized. The sheva brachos looked like a kiddush. Literally. She’d almost choked when Yonah had asked if they were fashionably late. There was nothing fashionable about this sheva brachos. Or Boston for that matter.

The truth was, she wasn’t the sort to ever comment on such a thing.  The people were so nice, and she loved Yonah’s family. Shallow she was not. She just appreciated a nicer ambience, that’s all. And she just felt very out of her element. Which might just be an occupational hazard of having gotten married five minutes ago, but still.

She smiled, remembering the wedding. Everything about it had been perfect. Just perfect.

But that was last week. Today, she was standing in a shul basement, shaking hands with people like she was running for mayor. Was this an out-of-town thing? Her mother-in-law materialized at her elbow and pulled her into a hug.

“Estee! You’re glowing. My daughter-in-law,” she said proudly to all the women standing around, and everyone laughed.

Estee wasn’t sure what was so funny, but she joined in.

“Mommy! Everything looks stunning,” she said. She looked around quickly for something to specify. “The flower wreaths around the pillars make you feel like you’re in a garden. I love that.”

“This one’s a keeper,” Barbara Kahan said, tapping Golda Rosen on her shoulder. Which was a great line, except Yonah’s older brother Aryeh had gotten divorced two summers ago, so the remark fell embarrassingly flat.

Estee broke the awkwardly stretching silence. “Are my parents here?”

Golda looked around. “Yes, yes, they’re just over there speaking with the Rav and Rebbetzin, see, at the tea and coffee stand.”

Estee gave a real smile for the first time all evening. “Wonderful, I’ll go say hi. Mazel tov, everyone, thank you!”

She glided toward her parents as swiftly as her heels allowed, trying not to look like she was escaping.

Her parents were nodding and smiling at whatever Rabbi and Rebbetzin … um, Yonah had told her their names… A fleeting memory… nope, gone, okay, avoid using their names… were saying.

She stepped next to her mother and smiled until everyone noticed her.

“Estee! How are you? You look tired.” Her mother leaned in and gave her a careful hug. “And beautiful,” she whispered in her ear.

Estee smiled and leaned over to give her father a kiss. “Baruch Hashem. Enjoying this wonderful sheva brachos,” she said in the direction of the Rav and Rebbetzin.

Rebbetzin Something held out her hand and Estee gave it a perfected shake.

“We met at the chasunah, but just in case you were too busy getting married to remember, I’m Leah Wagner, this is my husband, Yisrael.”

Estee laughed, immediately at ease. The Rav and Rebbetzin were kind; she could tell they were the sort of people who required zero effort when in their presence.

Yonah came bounding up at that moment, sweating slightly, face flushed. “Mommy, Tatty, welcome to Boston Land. Rav, Rebbetzin, this is amazing. Thank you so, so much.”

Rav Yisrael laughed and pulled Yonah into a hug. “This man here,” he said to Estee, “won the Pirchei parshah contest three years in a row.”

Estee flipped her sheitel over one shoulder. “That’s why I married him.”

She blushed, pleased at the ensuing laughter, then ran her finger lightly over her hairline. Had she caused the wig to fall back when she flipped her sheitel? Was it slipping off? No one was going to tell her.

“I’ll be right back,” she said to the little group, and glided off in search of the restroom.

“Third door on the left,” her mother-in-law stage-whispered as she passed.

She nodded her thanks, cheeks flaming.

She entered the bathroom — pink tulip wallpaper and pink stalls! — and gazed at her reflection. Phew, the hairline was fine. But what was this frizz? She looked like she’d just taken a walk in the rain!

Trying to pat down the hair didn’t work. Should she wet it?

Why hadn’t she brought a comb? She took a deep breath, trying to hold onto her composure. And she was doing a great job of it, until the bathroom door creaked open and her mother walked in.

“Est? You okay?”

Her mother stood at the door, assessing the situation. “Estee? Is it your sheitel?”

And then mature, married Estee Rosen burst into tears. “Ma! I hate it. It’s not working and I can’t. I just can’t. I refuse to go back out there.”

It took all of Mrs. Lefkowitz’s usual tricks, plus some new ones, to get her eldest to calm down. And if it took over 20 minutes for Estee and her mother to emerge, while Boston’s créme de la créme grew steadily hungrier, no one said a word.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1008)

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