| Calligraphy |

Set Me Free

“I’ve been to every single shadchan in the entire Israel. I doubt we’ll suddenly find a boy willing to date me.” Chava brought the book to face level, creating a blockade

From the entrance to her bedroom, Dini stared at the Styrofoam sheitel head, its expression bland and distant. Resolutely, she took a step closer.

“Hey Chavs, I’m heading out to visit Tatty,” she yelled over her shoulder.

Seriously?” Chava’s voice was laced with… something. A question, an accusation, dashed hope, all wrapped in one.

Dini glanced again at the unseeing head on the shelf, then did an about-face, nearly colliding with her daughter.

“Of course.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Chava pursed her lips, considering. “So you’re going to get ready?”


An inscrutable expression crossed Chava’s face, but as quickly as it arrived, the moment was gone.

“Okay, I’m gonna study, this CLEP’s supposed to be a killer.”

Dini’s eyes landed again on her wig. Dancing around the strands of hair was a thin film of dust, a grungy halo. What was Chava insinuating? Maybe the same question Dini was asking in the cobwebbed corners of her mind. What’s the point in any of it? The sheitel, the makeup, pretending, always pretending. Playacting on hard, orange plastic. How could she convince herself everything was normal between her and Menashe?

A good wife should dress nicely for her husband.

She grabbed an old, ratty snood. Facing reality head-on was the only way; she couldn’t bring herself to whitewash a visit to prison.

Dini peeked into Chava’s room on her way out.

“Uch, I’m neeever going to pass this bio CLEP!” she fake-whimpered, and Dini laughed; here was mature, staid Chava in the throes of teenage melodrama.

“Oh Chavs, you’ve been studying so hard, I think you’ll do great.”

“Nooo, I really don’t think so. Soooo many of my friends flunked this one, and I don’t know if I’ll get all my science reqs in time.” She gnawed at her lower lip, nervously tapped a highlighter on the book. “I wanted to focus on them now, while I’m back, before I have all my jobs as madrichah distracting me… and one hundred screeching girls around while I’m studying.”

Chava flashed a smile tinged with nostalgia, then shrugged, flooded with regained confidence. “Whatever, I’m going to crush this, right?”

“Yes, for sure!” It felt so good — light and airy and comfortable between them. So different from some of their previous encounters.

So good and comfortable, that Dini tiptoed a step further onto the brittle ice, unsure if it would hold.

“By the way, while you’re here, did you want to meet with shadchanim?”

And just like that, the splinters in their relationship revealed themselves in rapid-fire sequence, highlighting fissures Dini could almost see.

“I’ve been to every single shadchan in the entire Israel. I doubt we’ll suddenly find a boy willing to date me.” Chava brought the book to face level, creating a blockade.

The chill in the room was so strong, Dini found herself shivering. Lamely, she stammered something about hishtadlus.

“I think it’s important… but obviously, it’s up to you… I can make some phone calls… or whatever…”


“I guess I’ll go now.”

“Bye, have fun.” The same words Chava had been saying for years. And still, the yellow cover of the book was all Dini could see.

Fun. Right.


Dini maneuvered the old Odyssey down the familiar road. Looming gray walls reached toward the heavens, connecting the sins of today to the judgment of tomorrow. She parked the car and took her place in the meandering line. A familiar nervous energy filled her gut.

“Name?” The question jerked her attention to the guard. His tone was brisk.

“Adina Blau.”

“Who are you visiting?”

“Menashe Blau.”



As she said the word, Dini looked at her engagement ring and twisted it around her finger, a nervous habit she’d acquired after Menashe was arrested.

The guard waved her in.

The bright orange plastic chair was also familiar. Same old, same old, a normal Sunday errand. A good wife supports her husband.

Dini felt, rather than saw, her husband’s familiar shuffle. Each time it caused her stomach to clench — the approach of this broken prisoner, deferential to guards who held his fate in their blistered hands. She couldn’t align Menashe the Prisoner with Menashe the CEO. Where was the man whose confidence commanded attention, who had the most respected individuals in the frum world groveling at his feet?

“Hey, Dins.”

She forced herself to turn her lips up. “Hey yourself.”

“No kids today?”

Eleven years ago, there were family visits. These days, they were an unpredictable trickle, at best. She wouldn’t force the children, not anymore. Menashe wasn’t dumb; Dini knew he bubble-wrapped the fears so all that remained was an illusion he could try to grasp between handcuffed arms.

“Nope, no kids today.” She gave a breezy smile, tugged at a loose thread on her snood.

“Even Chava?” He craned his neck around Dini’s shoulder, as if she was hiding around the bend. What was he hoping for? Dini stared down at her lap, feeling blamed.

“Even Chava.” She looked up, faced the pain in Menashe’s eyes.

Good. He should feel bad that his 19-year-old daughter who’s visiting from Israel doesn’t want to see him. She banished the unfavorable thought with a self-directed reprimand: A good wife should protect her husband’s feelings.

“I’m sure she’s tired, she got in only a few days ago. You know, with jet lag and everything…”

Menashe nodded, and in the silence that lay between them, all she could hear was Chava’s voice of accusation. Seriously? Chava hadn’t — she would never — complete the sentence, but Dini filled in the rest: Seriously, you’re still trying to protect him? Seriously, you still think he’s innocent? Seriously, you call this a marriage?

Dini desperately needed to drown, drown, drown out the imagined voice of teenage indignation. The children; they were always a good diversion.

“Mimi is so happy now that Chava’s back, she really missed her…”


She’d stayed in this marriage for eleven years since the verdict. Eleven long, bitter, painful, lonely years.

It had been an easy enough story to swallow: a disgruntled former employee, now out of work, had fabricated allegations. Anti-Semites, jealous of his success, had schemed together. Her husband was just an innocent scapegoat.

That’s what she’d believed, that’s what they’d all believed — the askanim, the arrogant lawyers they’d retained, his friends and business acquaintances.

“You have to believe in his innocence, that’s what’s important.” People had said it reverently, a hope, a prayer.

She’d nodded and agreed. But when the accountant called, frantic, after the IRS audit, she noted with a cold and distant insight that she wasn’t, in fact, surprised.

Dini had stifled the voice of concern and doubt. She’d smiled encouragingly while Menashe had insisted on his innocence, citing the twenty-five-year sentence as extreme and racist. But a worm of fear buried itself in her stomach.

A good wife should stand behind her husband.

She couldn’t, she wouldn’t, throw doubt on his innocence. His entire world had crumbled overnight; she would be the steadfast wife.

Now Dini walked into the house, closing the heavy mahogany door behind her, and faced the accusing ghosts of lives she could have lived. She trailed her fingers along the hallway, stopped at Chava’s door.

Knocking lightly, she peeked her head in. “Hey Chavs, I’m back.”

“Mommy! Ever think to wait for a response before you walk into someone’s room?” Her words were daggers, but Dini was stunned into silence by Chava’s appearance. A forest green dress she had never seen before brought out the emerald flecks in Chava’s eyes. Silvery roses danced across chiffon fabric.

“I’ve never seen that dress,” Dini stammered.

“Yeah, well.” Chava lifted a shoulder. “I bought it… I bought it for something special.”

For a first date that hadn’t yet materialized?

Insecurity took the place of the confident young woman Chava had been a moment before. She kicked off her heels, and Dini saw her daughter’s shoulders deflate. Now she was just a girl playing dress-up, the sweet tones of Chanel Chance Eau Tendre smelling like a bad joke.

“Not that that’s looking likely…” Chava fiddled with the hem of a sleeve, confirming Dini’s suspicion.

Dini scrutinized her daughter, lost again in the maze that had wedged itself between them since Menashe’s arrest. It was a maze of memories, pain, and distance.

Of course it had been hardest for Chava, old enough to see all: the late-night calls, the meetings with lawyers, the sudden crush of poverty, the discreetly deposited groceries left at their front door. Finding and reading the inevitable hate notes decrying Menashe’s chillul Hashem.

No amount of therapy or dyadic work could heal those traumas, and Dini knew Chava carried the pain like a curse, probably even blamed Dini, the unknowing accomplice. And now, she was directing her anger over the lack of shidduch suggestions at Dini.

Divert, divert, divert; Dini was master at verbal sleight of hand. She took Chava’s response at face value.

“Was there anything else you needed before Pesach? Mimi walked with some friends to the Avenue, and she just called to let me know she’s ready to pay. She could probably use an older sister’s opinion…” She threw a smile at Chava — anything to bring back that sweet, easygoing girl she’d schmoozed with this afternoon. “I’m sure you’ve been counting down until you can shop in America, and you’ve been studying so hard. Nothing like retail therapy, right?”

With that magic phrase, Chava was back, sweet and unassuming and just a normal, carefree teenager.

“Sure, sounds like fun! Let me just change, I’ll meet you downstairs in five.”


Mimi was waiting impatiently at the counter of Chic Boutique, arms weighed down with seemingly half the outfits in the store.

“Whoa, whoaaa!” Dini smiled, but Mimi’s expectations were alarming.

“Mims, seriously, that’s a ton of clothing!” It had been a good idea to bring Chava along; Mimi wouldn’t feel attacked by her sister’s discerning judgement. “There’s no way you need all of them. Come back to the dressing room, I’m going to help you pick out the three best ones, ‘kay?”

With a disgruntled air, Mimi dragged herself to the back as Chava caught her mother’s eye. Dini allowed herself a quick wink. Overall, it was good to have Chava home.

She found a plush velvet chair and scrolled through some emails. The signal was weak, each page took forever to load. I’ll step out for five minutes, they won’t even know I’m gone.

As she exited the store, the spring weather filled her with a heady sense of anticipation, the buds on the trees singing of vibrancy and rebirth. She closed her eyes briefly, taking in warmth and sunshine against the coolness of the metal bench.

“Mrs. Blau?”

Dini startled, opening her eyes to a young, earnest-looking woman.

“Oh my goodness, so funny to meet you here!”

The auburn sheitel was cut in a blunt bob. Dini desperately grasped at gossamer images, trying to place the familiar face.

“Um, hi?”

“Oh, I’m so funny, I should introduce myself. Or I guess, re-introduce myself, ha ha. I’m Rebbetzin Greenstein, but please, call me Rikki.”

Of course she would call this young woman Rikki, she barely looked old enough to be married, let alone a rebbetzin. Dini pitched her voice higher to match the woman’s peppiness.

“Oh, Rikki Greenstein! Of course, we met last year when I visited Chava for midwinter vacation! And I’ve heard so, so much about you. Chava is so lucky to have you as a role model.”

Rikki blushed, waving her hand. “Oh, please, it’s we who are so lucky to have her! We were so happy she came back for shanah bet, and as a madrichah! What a wonderful, wonderful girl…” She was beaming, then suddenly leaned in conspiratorially toward Dini.

“You know, I was so disappointed about that whole thing with Yosef Hoffman, what a shame.”

Dini nodded dumbly. “Oh?”

“I know, I know, I shouldn’t have told Chava about it until there was a yes, broke rule number one in the shidduch handbook.” She giggled, an annoying sound that grated on Dini’s nerves. “But I was so certain he’d say yes, I mean, his story isn’t so different from your daughter’s…” Rikki’s face took on a familiar pink hue, the same color that flushed faces of acquaintances when discussing The Situation.

Anyway… I guess it’s all bashert, right? But it’s just such a shame, shidduchim might be easier if things were a little clearer on paper. People like to understand what they’re getting into. Divorce is very clear cut… Separation is just… confusing.”

Dini felt her eyes widen involuntarily, her mouth shifting to a perfect O.

In response, Rikki’s ears turned bright red, and flustered, she continued to stammer. “Gosh, sorry, I’m just thinking out loud here… and I wonder if that would change things for her shidduchim.”

Dini fought to keep her voice even. “Are you saying that if we were divorced, Chava would get married?”

Rikki toyed with her earring. “Yes. I mean, no. I mean, it would distance you from the scandal. It would distance Chava from the scandal. It’s easy for people to understand. As things stand… it’s hard to explain it to people.”

Dini inhaled sharply, uncertain how to respond.

“Mommy, there you are… Rebbetzin Greenstein!” Chava ran toward her teacher. “Ahhhh, I am sooo happy to see you! This is, like, the best surprise ever. I mean, I knew you were in America for Pesach, but I totally ditzed on the fact that your in-laws live nearby!”

Rebbetzin Greenstein, now cool and collected, beamed down at her student. “So glad to see you, and it was so special bumping into your mother and speaking with her.”

She threw a meaningful look at Dini, at the very same time that Chava looked at her mother, her face turning so many shades of white.


On the car ride home, Mimi and her friend Shayna chattered away. Chava was silent.

They pulled into Shayna’s driveway to drop off the girls.

“I’ll call you when I’m ready to be picked up!” Mimi called back to the car.

We’re so quick to see them grow up, and then they abandon you entirely. The thought clenched her heart tight, and she looked sideways at Chava, who was determinedly facing the window. Every part of her wanted to avoid the discussion, play this game of silence. Instead, Dini tentatively proffered a lead-in.

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on?”

Chava pounced on the opening. “Rebbetzin Greenstein told you, right? About the shidduch?”

Dini nodded. “Was that meeting staged?”

“No!” Chava exclaimed. “No, not at all, really not. I’m sorry, it must have felt that way. Bumping into her was really just total hashgachah.” She rubbed her hand nervously across the leather console. “I just, I didn’t know how to tell you, so I never brought it up.”

Dini nodded, understanding too well the stilted politeness that had formed, a cover for difficult conversations that could never be spoken. She eased the car onto the circular path, gravel crunching between the wheels.

Chava exhaled into the stillness. “It was rough, Ma. This guy’s father went MIA when he was a baby, and I’m not even good enough for him. I’m on the very, very bottom of the totem pole, watching all my friends get engaged, married… Do you think I don’t realize why not a single boy has been redt to me?”

Dini cut the ignition and looked over at her pure, beautiful daughter, studying her profile. The silence seemed to embolden Chava further.

“Growing up with Tatty in prison ruined everything. Do you even care at all about my future?”

Her outline grew fuzzy, the stillness crackled between them, and Dini realized there was nothing to respond at all.


As Dini scratched out a menu for the Pesach seudos and wrote a list of ingredients, the conversation replayed in her mind.

Was she standing in the way of Chava’s happiness?

Her thoughts drifted to Yosef Hoffman, to a faceless divorcee raising her children alone. Yes, Rebbetzin Rikki was right, their stories weren’t so dissimilar; a wife left behind to pick up the pieces of a broken family.

But did Chava know the ugly details of Dini and Menashe’s facade of a marriage? And had she actually revealed them to her teacher?

A good wife should trust her husband, that’s what she had always told herself, a mantra she thought so loud, it drowned out any other thought.

The mantras were now growing tired, softer, weaker. Why had she been so stupid?

She could blame it on naivete; at her young age, all those years ago, what did she know? What did she know of business and fraud?

She was distracted by noise from upstairs, metal drawers clanging, the shuffle of papers. Menashe’s office.

She knocked gently to warn Chava and waited this time until she heard a sharp, deliberate, “Come in.”

“I thought you were supposed to be studying,” Dini said, a lilt in her voice. The expression on Chava’s face stopped her short.

“Sweetie, what happened? What’s wrong?”

“Just tell me… why?”


“This whole time… Why’d you stay married to him?”

Before she even realized what she was saying, the practiced words flew out of her mouth. “A good wife…” Dini began.

“A good wife? A good wife?” Chava spat. “What about a good mother? Where were you when we all needed you? Me, Mimi, Yoni… You were so busy denying what was happening, insisting this is what you had to do… Did it ever cross your mind that he’s guilty? Mommy — guilty! He stole millions of dollars from the government, millions of dollars from people who trusted him! From his rosh yeshivah, Mommy!”

“How do you know about that?” she asked, a sharp edge in her voice.

“How do I not know that? Google’s a thing, Mom.”

Dini reeled.

“I’m sorry.” Chava looked down, studying her skirt. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“No, you shouldn’t have. And you shouldn’t believe everything you read online.” Dini let out a long exhale, glancing around the office she hadn’t visited in years. She never entered the room anymore, not after they’d cleaned up after the police had ransacked the place. She had resolutely fixed the damage — the empty space where the computer and family albums had been, the slashed leather chair. After that, she couldn’t bring herself to go in again.

Dini shook her head and sat down beside Chava on the stubby carpet.

“Chava’la… There’s always more than one side to a story.”

“Yeah, Mommy, there is always more than one side. And as I get older, start thinking about marriage, about being a wife… It’s just…” She toyed with the carpet. “It’s hard to see that this is your life, Mommy. All my memories, and I’m talking before the arrest, are of you taking over — making Kiddush because he crashed after pulling an all-nighter in his office… The day-trips he canceled last-minute because there was a crisis at work… The way we all had to tiptoe around the house whenever he was on the phone with a client.”

Was that the model of a marriage she wanted for her daughter? The seeds of doubt bloomed into a full-grown forest. Dini took a deep breath, but it did nothing to ease the metallic taste of confusion in her mouth, in her lungs, in her heart.


She had to visit Menashe; it was the only way.

Dini knew there were a million and one things she had to take care of before the Seder, and although she generally visited only once a week, desperate times called for desperate measures.

Looking around the familiar waiting area, she shifted her pocketbook closer to her body, wishing it had the power to protect her heart.

Dini glanced over at another frum mother, children in every direction yanking at her skirt, needing the bathroom, insisting on another cup of water.

“Why do we have to coooome every week?” The whine grated, voicing a shared question.

“Shh…” The mother, despite her apparent exhaustion, was freshly made up and wearing a sheitel. “Daddy will be home soon, hopefully only a few more weeks of this, and then we’ll have Daddy back!”

The lies, so many lies; hopes destroyed before they even had a chance to bloom. Dini understood — the lies wove a comforting blanket of denial.

But a good wife should always believe in her husband’s innocence. Wasn’t that true?

But what if it wasn’t? Dini took another look at the woman, her younger doppelganger. What if instead, she had focused on being a good mother? What had her choices cost her children? Could things have been different for Chava?

Dini was ushered into the large seating area. The frum family she’d noticed in the waiting area was placed at the next table over.

“What a surprise, Dins!” Menashe glowed. Surprises are never a good thing. She felt an acidic mix of torn loyalties, shame, and self-hatred.

She stared at the children nearby talking with their father and superimposed her own young kids of ten years past; squirming, uncomfortable, pained, angry. They didn’t deserve that. They don’t deserve this.

“I need to talk to you.” It came out harsher than Dini intended, and she saw fear cross Menashe’s face.

“What’s wrong?” All these years, she had been the good wife, and Menashe was clearly taken aback by the change in script.

“Menashe… you know Chava hasn’t been suggested a single shidduch, right?”

The words threw him, and he scratched at his beard, stalling.

“She’s still pretty young, no?”

“No, she’s not. She’s officially been in the parshah for close to a year now, she met with shadchanim last summer already.”

“Okay, but sometimes these things take time…” His eyes darted, looking everywhere and nowhere. His left hand grabbed at his right shoulder, kneading roughly. Finally, he met Dini’s eyes, and with a heavy sigh, he leaned back in his chair, dangling precariously on the back two legs. The nursery rhyme from forever ago jumped into Dini’s mind: ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

“Blau! No funny business,” the guard grunted.

With a bang, Menashe dropped forward and leaned his head into his arms.

What am I doing? Dini’s heart constricted into a million pieces as she watched her husband.

He looked up, eyes moist, blinked furiously.

“Dins, you know if there was some way, any way, to make this better, I would do it, I’d do anything for our kids…” He swallowed. “For you.”

She couldn’t look at him directly, focused instead on the scratched metal leg of the table.

“Maybe…” Her voice was so small, Menashe had to lean across the table to hear her. A thought filled her with conviction: I’m doing this for my daughter, for her chance at a good marriage.

She cleared her voice. “Maybe there is a way…” she stammered, and Menashe’s head jerked up.

“Maybe it would help if we, I mean, I’m not sure it would be a solution, but maybe, like…”

You want a divorce.” He said it not unkindly, leading her out of her bumbling misery, a statement more than a question, and the word lay there between them, simmering.

“I… I don’t know what I want.” She poked a finger into the growing hole of her snood. One thread, and everything unravels.

“Dini. Dini.” He said it firmly, and there was no way she could delay looking into his hazel eyes, the same eyes that had conveyed a gamut of emotions throughout their relationship: hope and exhilaration and joy; stress and fear and confusion; suffering and distrust and guilt.

Now, there was a sheen to his eyes. Hurt, yes, and love.

“You’re the only positive thing in my life all these years. You know I’ve been through Gehinnom and back.”

Her throat burned, and righteous indignation filled her. I can’t be the selfless one. I can’t, I can’t. Not for my husband, not anymore, there’s only so much one woman can take.

“But Dini…” Now he looked down, and her stomach clenched, the nausea rising. Everything was getting fuzzy, the guards, the visitors, the orange chairs, bleeding together into a jarring kaleidoscope, until her sight became myopic, and his face loomed large. A kind face, a battle-worn face.

“More than anything, I care about you, I care about our kids. This will be the hardest thing, I’m not going to lie, maybe even harder than the first time I heard the verdict.”

Menashe clenched his jaw tight, then relaxed it, deep lines canvassing and contracting, endless paths of pain.

“But if you think it will help Chava, I won’t allow myself to stand in her way.” Dini knew what his next words would be, felt her entire body grow cold, rigid.

“I can’t do that to our children. I know I’ve caused them enough pain. If you say the word…” Menashe swallowed hard, his voice strong though shaky. “If you ask me for one…”

Dini resisted the urge to clamp her hands over her ears. If this is what she had hoped for, why did it sting so much?

B’lev shalem, I will give you a get.”


They were already at Koreich, and as Dini looked around at her beautiful children, she found herself thinking about Menashe. Their conversation last week had highlighted long-buried beliefs. His insistence that he would take a drastic step to help Chava was, despite its difficulty, unsurprising. Because she knew, deep down, that she had married a selfless, loving man.

Somehow, with all that had happened, she had forgotten that basic fact.

Now, she allowed herself to remember the million encounters in which she had been witness to Menashe’s essential goodness: the way he would look for people walking in the street to offer them a ride; how he always corrected vendors who undercharged him; the stubbornness with which he insisted people go in front of him on line if he had a full cart of groceries.

She had blinded herself to some of Menashe’s character traits, and in the process, effectively blinded herself to them all. For the first time in a long time, Dini allowed herself the luxury of missing him.

“Can I say something quick on Koreich?” Chava’s notebook was splayed open, balanced precariously on three Haggados. Her hazel eyes glowed above the green chiffon dress. No longer set aside for a first date, but maybe now for a different kind of new beginning.

Yoni groaned, and Mimi studied her reflection in the silver ke’arah.

Dini smiled at Chava. “Please, we’d all love to hear,” she said, throwing a wink at Yoni.

“So this is sooo beautiful, I heard it from Rabbi Katzenstein. It’s like, Koreich is a sandwich with a bunch of conflicting elements: the oxymoron of matzah, which is slavery and freedom in one, the bitterness of maror, and the sweetness and pain of charoses.

“And the idea behind Geulah is that it’s not just one: you know, pure good, pure evil. That’s too simplistic. We can actually achieve zeman cheiruseinu by recognizing that Hashem is behind everything — the things that are good and also the things that seem painful. Hashem is big, you know? And that’s life, seeing His sweetness, even within the harshness.”

Dini looked her daughter in the eye. “How true… Hashem is big.”

Chava tilted her head, trying to decipher the meaning, then smiled back.

“Beautiful, beautiful, can we start? Zeicher l’mikdash k’Hillel,” Yoni exclaimed loudly, mumbling the rest under his breath. He took a big bite of his matzah sandwich, and as everyone followed suit, Dini was certain she had never savored Koreich quite this way before.


They had barely finished putting away the Pesach dishes when it was Sunday again.

Dini took the freshly blown sheitel down from a top shelf, ran her fingers through the silky brown strands, glanced at her finger. Her engagement ring and wedding band rested there comfortably.

She clipped on the wig, the snap causing slight discomfort at her temples. It was a choice — not to pretend everything was perfect, but to stay committed anyway, secure in the knowledge that redemption was to come.

d was big; He would get Menashe out of prison, the same way He would send the right one for Chava.

They had spoken, briefly, on the phone on Chol Hamoed; it was a good conversation. Neither mentioned divorce. They would discuss it, or they wouldn’t; Dini knew her actions would speak loudest. And besides, Menashe had been giddy, his voice rising in pleasure. There was a new lawyer ready to take on the case, with a fresh tactic, sure to succeed. Dini had shared Chava’s devar Torah in support. “G-d is big,” Menashe repeated with a laugh.

Chava had walked in mid-conversation, pleased she had been quoted to her father. Dini, still smiling, turned around to face her daughter.

Chava’s voice was soft and gentle when she asked, “You really believe he’s innocent, huh?”

Dini hesitated a moment, the good feeling still lingering. She sat down on the couch, patted the cushion next to her. Chava was ready to hear this.

“Sometimes, we make a choice. And sometimes, that choice isn’t all good. It includes painful things, yes, but when it’s a choice, it can be liberating. You don’t know Tatty the way I do. I see his goodness, and I made a commitment.”

Despite the struggles, Dini was following her heart. The qualities that had attracted her to Menashe were still there, and a relationship wasn’t something you just threw away. Wasn’t that the best message she could give Chava, the best message for her future?

Dini looked over at Chava as they walked together toward the prison entrance. She took a heady breath. A choice. It tasted like freedom.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 907)

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