| Calligraphy |

Spare Change

“New York’s the place to be,” Shifra says innocuously, and as she’s saying it, she feels her heart accordion open, then close

She shouldn’t have come along to the store.

A week before Rosh Hashanah, DecoDress is a headache of patterns — florals, paisleys, whatnot. And people everywhere, stretching out, snatching the last dresses in standard sizes, leaving only the very large and very tiny. Beside her, Estee’s starting to panic.

“Maybe this?” Shifra holds out a blue-green maxi dress.

Estee goes to try it on. Shifra stands by the skirts, and people follow her, holding up skirts, trying, discarding. Is anyone even looking at the tags?

Their youngest sister Miriam materializes beside her with a small pile slung across her arm. “Shells,” she says.

“Um, Miriam,” Shifra says hoarsely, “I don’t think basics are included in the voucher.”

Her sister’s face slumps, “But I need a shell for my Shabbos robe.”

Tension throbs between Shifra’s brows. She shouldn’t even be here. It’s not like she’s getting anything for herself. Why did she come? To reason with a twelve-year-old? To disappoint?

Estee steps out then and poses in the mirror. She looks back at them.

“Oh, Estee,” Miriam says, “I loooove it.”

Shifra nods, blinks. The dress is made for Estee. Soft and flowing, with a cut that says class. She is just 18, her sister, and beautiful. In dashing green, with the extra height supplied by the pair of dress heels that live in the store, Shifra suddenly realizes she’s coming of age.

She tries to meet Estee’s half-smile.

“You think I should take it?”

“You have to,” Miriam says, “You look… transformed.”

Miriam is too precocious for a preteen. Shifra looks at her — she’s still holding the shiny, ribbed shell — and wonders how much she knows.

Estee smirks in the mirror and goes to change. As they walk to the front of the store to pay, Shifra wishes she could slink away and disappear. She swallows and reaches for the voucher Ma gave her. The Tomchei Shabbos V’Yom Tov 20% off.

The woman looks at it briefly, punches in some numbers. “That’ll be two hundred fifty-eight,” she says.

Estee hands over Ma’s card.

The three sisters look down. The shop tiles grow and distort beneath Shifra’s feet, six seconds, seven seconds—

“Declined,” she hears the woman say. “Should I try again?”

Shifra shakes her head, trying for nonchalance, but jerking stiffly. She fishes in her purse and hands over her own credit card. She feels Estee’s relief press in on her; Miriam’s eyes .

“We’ll take the shell too,” she finds herself saying.

The woman scans it, taps on the register, and the receipt rolls out; a grinding, beeping, normal noise.

  

A cookie jar lives on the kitchen counter, white ceramic, with a flower-shaped knob.

Once, when things had been simpler, it held oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, rugelach. Now it’s for loose change.

“I have my school trip tomorrow,” Miriam says to Ma’s back and starts to rummage in the jar.

Ma turns around distractedly. “How much do you need?”

“Ten dollars. Got it.” Miriam holds up a crumpled five-dollar bill and a fistful of change.

Ma blinks. “Good, can you go get the others for dinner?”

Abba walks in then and sits down near Shifra.

“Asher is coming for Rosh Hashanah,” Ma says from the stove.

Abba leans back. “He is? I’m so glad. I thought they’d go to Bracha’s parents again. Ahh, nothing like having everyone together.”

In the pocket of her hoodie, Shifra’s phone buzzes.

“He’s going to rent a car from Baltimore. He said something about using your Avis account to get a good deal?” her mother says, from her place the stove. Mock-casual, just a question asked with her back turned.

Abba doesn’t look up, “Good deal? Ten percent maybe, and that way the whole thing’s on my account… He knows that.”

“Well, whatever. I told Asher he could.” Ma sighs.

Abba turns to face Ma. She’s stirring the noodles in tight arcs, eyes inscrutable.

Shifra wavers between pity and resentment. A man who can’t provide is not a man. She steals a glance at Abba. He is providing, just not enough for everything and everyone. And then there’s the debt. She knows how anything extra pushes him over the edge — and all the way down. There’s no safety net. No rainy-day savings in this house, just a cookie jar in the kitchen.

She pours herself a glass of seltzer, then on second thought inches it toward her father. He nods at her but doesn’t drink it.

It wasn’t as if Abba didn’t work hard. He’d been plugging away as sixth grade rebbi for as long as she could remember. Through the years there had been pockets of opportunity, talk of him moving on and becoming sgan menahel. But it never panned out; here he was, still teaching sixth grade, getting a two percent raise every year while their expenses soared.

The others file in then, Estee, Chatzkel, Miriam, and the little boys.

“I’ll deal with it, okay?” Abba says quickly to Ma, over their heads.

Ma sighs elaborately.

Shifra’s pocket buzzes again. She rises from the table. Who said she has to take this? She doesn’t have to see her father sit there, hunched and cornered. She has a life — and people who are trying to reach her.

Five texts from Rina. She folds herself onto her bed. She doesn’t even read, just calls back.

“Shifra, guess what, we signed on an apartment.”


“Yeah, me and Mimi. For right after Succos.”

“One minute, you and Mimi are really moving to New York? Ohhhh-kay.”

On her dresser is a folded stack of papers and a pen. She starts to scribble absently, before she realizes it’s a bank statement.

“Yeah, yeah. I never thought I would. My older sisters didn’t go, but they got engaged straight out of seminary. But I guess, for me, now, it feels right, like a shot of hishtadlus before the new year. For everything… shidduchim, jobs… you know.”

She knew. Rina and Mimi had spent the past three years working on their degrees. Full time. And now they’re off to seek their fortunes in the Big Apple.

While she’d been working since she left seminary. Day after day, nine to five. Not to mention side hustles.

“Shif, you there?”

“Yeah.” She underlines the numbers, cages them in red boxes and circles.

“I’m gonna miss you,” they say together.

She smiles, sighs.

“Shif, maybe you’ll come? I know we’ve discussed it to death, but now that it’s becoming real?”

“Um, I have a job already…”

“You do, and you’re great, Shif. The shul wouldn’t manage without you.”


“Yes, you’re doing great stuff here. You have things happening here. Me, I have nothing. I have to get away. My mother’s practice is booming. I have to slink around my own house so her clients don’t bump into me. She doesn’t need me around.”

Rina’s voice is lacquered in something — pain? Rejection?

Shifra breathes, tries to wrap her head around the pain of it — of not being needed, when she herself is drowning in other people’s needs.

“I wish you’d come,” Rina says again. “But I guess this community needs you.”

And this home, and that sister, and—

She looks down at the butchered bank statement. The angry red lines and chains around the transactions. DecoDress $278.00, AT&T $103.59.

“I wish I could come, too,” she says.

She imagines disappearing off to a small apartment in the city. Her own space, her own expenses.  No desperate eyes, no pressing needs.

She hunches on her bed for a long time after she hangs up.

Her friends are moving five hours away, but she has a life here. A job she loves, and a noisy, mostly happy family. Rina would pay dearly for that. Would she?

The statement is blotched and splotched. The numbers blur in front of her eyes. AT&T $103.59. It’s a recurring charge, around $100 each month. For what, four years?

This red page, it’s her story, how much she wanted to help, how much she needed to help. Watching Abba need $100 and another $100, and knowing that whatever she gives is a relief, but it’s also feeding a black hole. One that she desperately wants to avoid for herself. But how can she save while her parents struggle?

  

“Can we talk?” Abba takes me into the dining room and slides a sheaf of papers along the table. “Can I ask you to look at…”

I notice the logo. AT&T.

“Are we still with them? We’ve been using just our cell phones because the landline is…”

“It’s not broken, it just wasn’t paid for,” Abba says quietly, “but we need to have a landline, Ima needs it, everyone needs it. And Shifra…” He looks at the table, through the table. “I can’t get a new plan on my credit score, could we use your name, and uh, associated account details for a new plan?”

“Sure,” I say.

I am 19, I have earning power, I can swing an extra $100 a month, easy.

I sign on the bottom of the page. My all-powerful scrawl.

  

Tonight’s a visiting night. Once a month, Shifra goes around to “her” shul people. To check in, to say hi, to debate the existence of G-d with Mr. Morris, to talk apple strudel with Dora, and hear about the game and the grandchildren and why America is on a one-way trip to disaster from some of the other seniors.

Michelle calls. “Sorry, just realized my car is at the mechanic. Can we use yours tonight?”

As if she had her own. It’s another thing to forgo, because it wouldn’t be fair to spend all that money on a lease, to park a shiny little selfish car alongside Abba’s beaten up minivan.

“Should be fine,” she says, checking the driveway. “Um, it’s not quite a carriage of class, just saying.”

Shifra drags a box out to the car. Tonight is the pre-Rosh Hashanah visit, and they’ll be distributing packages to some of the older members of the shul — those on the Platinum Program. The team spent half the day putting the packages together: artisanal honey, mini apples, simanim cards, and handwritten letters.

She shuts the trunk and reverses out of the driveway, and there’s Michelle, puffing up the path.

“I was going to pick you up,” Shifra says.

“S’good, I needed a walk,” Michelle says, clambering into the front, as Shifra takes an armful of things — letters, bottles, a wilting banana — and dumps them in the backseat.

“Family car,” Shifra says through gritted teeth.

Michelle is ten years older than her and lives in the neighborhood but is not from her crowd. Shifra likes Michelle, she’s worked with her for years, but she is still patently conscious of their differences; sometimes she feels that more than the kiruv side of the job — representing the shul to the older, secular members — she has to represent her “community” at the office. There are other Bais Yaakov girls working there, but somehow around Michelle and the higher ups, Shifra’s on her guard, as though by presenting a certain image, she, little old Shifra, can break age-old stereotypes.

Michele retrieves a list from her bag. “Ten addresses — two hours, y’think?”

Shifra heads down the street. Her foot hits the gas, and she feels the car protest. She glances at gas gauge — empty.

Dear, swift Michelle. Shifra wishes she would have had the time to clean the car and figure out the gas. Or that Abba would’ve filled up, for once. She feels the blood begin to pound in her head. Abba never fills up, he just puts in a few gallons when he has to — because he knows she’ll pick up the tab?

No, no, because he doesn’t have the money to fill up.

“I just need to stop for gas first,” she says to Michelle, her tone light and airy. Like she doesn’t care.

  

They reach the first address, a tenement building with an air of neglect.

“You know who’s first, it’s Martha,” says Michelle.

Shifra groans.

“Yes, ma’am, off we go.”

They walk up three flights in the semi-dark. Big, sloppy Martha —  kisses for both of them. Michelle asks how she is, how the hip is doing, and Shifra proffers the neat package.

“This is for you, for Rosh Hashanah, this Monday evening,” she says.

“Ooh, that time of year again,” Martha says. She promptly removes a shiny apple and bites into it.

“Anyone want an apple?” she says. “Look, there’s three.”

“Oh well,” Shifra whispers to Michelle. They do what they do, but in some homes, the simanim cards will be disposed of with the apple peels.

  

It’s better at the Mayers.

Jemima Mayer is the picture of grace. “Michelle and Shifra, how nice. What can I get you, some tea?”

She’s never sure what she can eat in the houses she visits. Michelle accepts a tea, and Shifra takes one too, while her mind hisses, different standards.

They take out a package and start to talk about shofar-blowing times, chazzanus, Yom Tov menus.

“We’ll be going to New York,” Jemima says. “We want to be with the kids for the chagim.”

“New York’s the place to be,” Shifra says innocuously, and as she’s saying it, she feels her heart accordion open, then close.

  

Her parents are out on the small porch when she comes back. She should head to bed, but she finds herself walking out onto the porch and blurting, “My friends are moving to New York.”

Ma makes a quizzical face.

“For work, for shidduchim…” she continues, and something unfolds inside again, that feeling she had in Jemima’s house. Everyone is moving on around her, she so unequivocally settled, needed, stretched…

“But you have a job, a great job,” Ma says, a tiredness weighing down her voice.

She should just leave them alone, let them relax in peace. They don’t get enough downtime.

“And shidduchim,” Abba interjects. “I wonder if moving to New York will help.”

Right, right, it was hardly a problem of location, more of family finances…

Which is why she should save up…

Abba talks in the dark. “I think in life we have to do the hishtadlus we feel comfortable doing. If it feels too much — and moving to New York certainly feels like too much — then we know it’s not right for us.”

Shifra sits on the low gate, against the wall, and squirms.

“I want my daughters to live at home until they build their own homes. Home…” he repeats, and his voice is small, like he knows he can’t say anything. How can he have an opinion on what Shifra should do, when…

He’s older, he’s the parent, she’s just a petite young woman. But she also knows that she’s no longer just a regular daughter; the situation — his role, her role, it’s put her on an unwitting pedestal.

Abba clears his throat uncomfortably, and she wants to hear him say what he’s going to say, wants to respect him, but there’s a frisson of wind, and he clams up. Things have changed slowly and imperceptibly— since four years ago? Three years ago?— every time she swipes her card for him, and he doesn’t know how to command respect again.

She feels something in her own throat, thick and cloying. Why did she bring it up? She doesn’t even really want to go to New York. When did everything get so complicated?

She hoists herself off the gate and leaves her parents to their cold teas.

  

They are working on a Sunday. Reminder emails had gone out three times last week. The shul is endearingly — conveniently — old-fashioned about things like Sundays off, and there’s a tray of iced coffee and rugelach for all of them on Risa’s desk, to sweeten the deal.

Shifra takes a cup of coffee and opens a spreadsheet. Names, addresses, shofar blowing times; the Platinum Program’s service for homebound seniors.

At the copy machine, Michelle holds up a page of extra-large ArtScroll lettering and squints. “Large enough for Martha?”

“She won’t come,” someone says.

The phone rings on the main desk, and Risa holds it up and whisper-shouts to Shifra, “Max is on the other line. He only wants to speak to you.”

She laughs and takes the phone.

“Listen, Shifra’le, I need Rabbi Marks to come vit der shofar ven my neighbor, Herry, is out, you know dat. Vy is he scheduled for noon? Let’s see, Herry goes out at 3. The Rabbi should not come before 3:07.”

She clucks into the phone, restrains herself from telling him that there’s a hafsakah at noon and that’s when the good rabbi can come. As she’s talking to him, slow and agreeable, she absently opens her emails. A couple of promotions and a new email from an Abe Schapiro. Who’s that?

“Let me see what I can do here, Max, and I’ll get right back to you,” she says.

The line clicks off, and she opens the email.


We’re so glad to hear about you and the experience you have in managing a team and working with the elderly population. Would you please forward your resume?

Looking forward,

Abe Schapiro


CommuCare Senior Activities

Brooklyn, NY


It’s a mistake. Wrong recipient. But… he addressed her as Shifra.

How could they know about her? Is Rina on her case?

She looks up, Michelle and Rochel are at the copy machine, stapling away. Risa’s conferring with the rabbi. People coming and going, making Yom Tov happen for seniors for whom Rosh Hashanah might be just another day. Could she leave? This job, and this place, and her family?

But New York — on her own. A new place, a job opportunity offered to her like manna from the Heavens. Her heart gives a little leap. To just be free of everything at home… to save up, to have a plan…

“What did Max want?” Michelle is back with the booklets.

She minimizes her email, shakes her head. “Shofar at 3:07 precisely,” she says.

And the whole team — her team — laughs.

  

Asher sweeps into the house with Bracha and the baby, and the girls squeal and fawn over him, and the family is chattering and laughing in the kitchen.

Asher goes to the get their suitcase from the car. So they did sort out a rental. Shifra’s not asking. The less she knows, the better.

When the couple is ensconced in their room, and Miriam is playing with baby Shua, Ma motions her over to the floury counter, where challahs are gloriously taking shape.

“I have a grocery list.” She scans the scribbled paper, reads, “Fruit and vegetables and plasticware and dips and nuts, and some special stuff, you know how Asher is, impressions, whatever…”

Shifra rolls her eyes.

“I know, I know, but get something for him, won’t you, a nice wine or something, and maybe chocolates for Bracha, and something for the baby?”

She fumbles in her wallet and finally hands her a hundred dollar bill, looking at the dough and the kitchen but not quite at Shifra.

  

Shifra goes to the store and gets into Ma’s head. She walks up and down the aisles, picks out flowers and pretty napkins and a set of fancy disposables. Impressions. She knows it’s important to Ma. She’s doing it for Ma, not for Asher.

A rattle toy for baby Shua, those little squirty fruit pouches — so Ma can be a giving grandma.

She passes the wine section and looks for the specials. Abba had never been into it, but her older brother seemed to have developed a taste for fine wine.

She grabs the cheapest bottle, then thinks, for Ma, and puts it back and gets the next one up.

She follows the jostling Erev Yom Tov shoppers to the checkout and stands in line with her full cart, knowing that Ma’s one hundred bill won’t half cut it.

Asher. That sandcastle of denial he’s built around him; sometimes she wants to punch him. He knows their reality. Just one and a half years ago he was home, like she is. But he wasn’t really, he was in that cushy yeshivah world, flying in and out of Israel every six months. Living with boys who did nothing to earn their keep, learning and chilling and asking Abba to send him more money.

He’s two years older than she is, already a husband and a father, but sometimes she feels like he’s just a kid. Does he even know what work is, the value of an hour?

“Next,” the cashier calls, and she starts to pile the goods on the conveyor with clammy hands. He doesn’t let himself grow up, she thinks.

  

On the first day of Yom Tov, she spends all of Shacharis with the Platinum members. Jemima is there and Dora and Sarah and is that Martha — Martha came? — waving like mad, palms out in exaggerated question at the sight of Estee.

“My sister,” Shifra whispers.

She weaves between the small crowd of women with wide-brimmed hats, in their best evening wear. They need help with the page numbers, when to stand and when to sit, but they are here, some of them at least; whiffs of perfume with a medicinal tinge, the pervasive smell of old women’s breath.

Michelle sits out front with Risa and the other shul trustees. It’s strange to see them on Yom Tov.  Out of habit, she appraises herself and her sister through the eyes of the management. How do they look, these two heimish girls who’ve come down to the Platinum room to help out with the davening?

They look great, she decides. Estee’s wearing the green dress they’d picked up last week, and suddenly it’s not how her sister seems to the trustees, but to Shifra… Estee’s practically a young woman too. She’s creeping up to her stage, she’ll be in shidduchim — and she’ll start working.

Shifra tries to focus on the words in the machzor, but her mind is all over the place. It’s not like she’s old, but being in the parshah is hard, and there’s a line forming behind her, and their family situation, how much of a strike against her is it really? She wants to move on, to get engaged so badly, she wants someone at her side, someone to finally take care of her.

Estee clears her throat and Shifra blinks. She’s being ridiculous; Estee’s not quite in shidduchim, she’s not even out of school yet. Next year, things will be different. Shifra wraps her arms around herself. She’s gotten used to being stoic as a lonely tree, but maybe there was a wind swirling around her? Maybe times were a’changin?

Maybe she would go to New York. Work at CommuCare.

Maybe, maybe, today she could stand before Hashem and pour out her heart and daven and He would send her the one, and this time next year everything would be different.

The women clatter to their feet for Kaddish.

Hoarse whispers, some half voices, Jemima’s perfectly articulate syllables, Martha’s mispronunciation — she leans into their sincerity. These women who don’t know Hebrew properly, who speak from a place of having seen, having been around the block time and time again, who are much, much closer than further. Dora looks up, her eyes lost, and Shifra holds the woman’s hand, shows her the place, and whispers the words with her.

She wants to be here with these women, when they stand for the shofar, but she has her own family, her own place. She’s joining Ma and the rest in the main shul for Mussaf.

There’s a small break before shofar, and she says goodbye to the old women. They press their hands into hers, and Shifra smiles at them, and she doesn’t know who is giving whom strength.

She joins the stream of women heading to the main shul upstairs. There’s Bracha and baby Shua, and some others who are her age, maybe younger, but a stage or two ahead. Her mind is with Martha and Dora, people who are at the very last stage.

They crowd into the shul, and then there’s a great hush before the shofar sounds, and the blast when it comes is like a barrage, and she is frozen by the sound.

She catches sight of Ma’s face before she looks into her own machzor. The whole year is there on her face, the hanging on, but hope, and gratitude too, and it is such a vulnerable face, Shifra can’t look. She squeezes her eyes and thinks, it’s been some year, but hasn’t it been good, too?

She is grateful, she is grateful, but sometimes the lack is so stark, and she is just so focused on what isn’t there, what they don’t have, what she’s given and hasn’t given…

And He’s given her the ability to give, and He determines how much she’ll have, and how much Abba will have and Ma. And she wants so much from Him on this day, for herself, for them all.

She hears the crowd thin out. And when she looks up, Bracha and Shua are leaving with the rest of the young mothers, and it’s just a handful of them left, Rina standing stiffly next to her mother who has a place right near the rebbetzin. Shifra stands near her own mother and her sisters. They are praying, all of them, for the same things, and there’s a comfort in it, in being here with her family. She gives herself up to the davening, her mind is finally, blissfully blank.

  

Asher recorks the wine after the meal. “Ahh, good stuff,” he says.

Shifra is piling the benchers, gathering some napkins. She doesn’t say anything, just gives him a look.

As if in response, he turns to her. “Shif, how can you think of moving out? Do you know how upset Abba is?”

She pulls herself inward, struggles with the tray of glasses in her hands, and focuses on breathing.

Like he can talk.

She looks at him, a thousand unsaid things in her eye, and he has the grace to look away.

Suddenly Ma is there. “Actually, Asher, Abba and I have thought about it, and if this is what Shifra thinks she needs now, we respect that.”

Shifra is still holding the tray.

“Abba even got in touch with some old acquaintances of his in Brooklyn to see if he could set up a job for Shifra.”

“It was Abba? That job offer I got?”

Ma nods.

She’s not sure who’s more shocked, she or Asher, but she doesn’t care. She holds onto the feeling of Abba’s care. Abba trying to help in his way, stretching himself for her. Even with everything he has going on, even when he didn’t fully agree.

She takes the tray to the kitchen, leaving the two of them in the dining room. Let Asher have it out with Ma. What did he know of their complex relationship, of what it meant that Abba had gone out on a limb for her?

  

On Motzaei Yom Tov, Asher leaves with his young family, and she is vaguely sad as she stands by the window watching the rental car roll down the street and out of sight. They are two years and a world apart.

Her phone rings. Who could be calling now? Inanely, she thinks it’s Asher, maybe calling to apologize. Nah, that was too much to expect. But maybe he could acknowledge, even validate, what she was doing, from the comfort of the car.

But it’s Michelle. “Hi, Shifra. Shanah tovah to you. Sorry, I know it’s late. Hope you had a good chag? Listen, tell me you’re up for this. You know the Yom Kippur program up in the Rockies? Two people cancelled, we need another two people to go out there, and just, you know, help pull the service along. You’re good at it, you know how to do it, and it’ll be nice, an amazing chazzan…”

Shifra drops the curtain. “Let me ask a friend and get back to you.”

  

5:49 a.m.

Her cell phone sings. She winces, looks at the time through bleary eyes, and closes them again, before that jolt of reality: Plane to catch at 9.

When she brought it up, Abba mumbled something about Yom Kippur and being with the same tzibbur, in the shul where your family davened, then walked away. She thought of New York and how he’d been able not only to respect her, but to try to help her. Instead of that uneasy balance, where he could only mumble his opinion, not speak it aloud, she’d called him back, and they’d had a conversation. She explained why she wanted to go, what being with that sort of crowd did for her, and that maybe she just needed to get away, and he’d heard.

In a half-daze, she looks at her phone. Already there is a string of texts from Rina. She dresses, gathers her stuff, and tiptoes down the stairs.

The house is bathed in dark calm. She will just go to the kitchen to get a coffee and sneak out. From the front of the house, a weak light filters into the hallway, and someone stands in relief against the semi-darkness.


He steps inside. “Early morning kapparos,” he says.

“Oh, I’m off to the airport,” she says.

A wind whooshes the front door closed, and they stand in the dark hall, and suddenly he says, “One minute, Shifra’le, I want to bentsh you.”

Oh, it’s Erev Yom Kippur.

She’d forgotten, but he hasn’t.

She stands there awkwardly, and her father puts a napkin on her hair. His hands tremble, or maybe she trembles. But just then, he is standing above her, and her head is lowered, and he is her father. His hands are sure and strong on her head, and he is not fumbling. This is his role, and he is here, even at dawn, to give her the time-honored blessing of father to child on Erev Yom Kippur.

She wills herself not to cry.

He whispers words above her head. He is the one with the power to bentsh her. Did it change anything that he couldn’t always provide?

She presses down on her lip, but there’s a slow seeping of tears from the corners of her eyes.

“A gut yahr,” Abba finishes, and his own eyes are closed and he takes her hand and says, “May you find a chassan worthy of you, and may you be happy this year, wherever it takes you.”

She doesn’t know where it will. Right now she’s off to Colorado. She might go to New York after Succos. She might stay here, stick it out with her family. And maybe Hashem has other plans for this year.

Behind Abba, in the window, day starts to break in a creep of orange. His face, his worn face, is gilded by the light. This is who is he is. She finds her voice. “Amen,” she says, looking right at him.

Then her phone pings again, and she gathers her carry-on from the hallway.

“Wait a minute,” she hears him say.

Abba goes to the kitchen, rummages in the cookie jar, and hands her twenty dollars. “Buy yourself some lunch, something nice,” he says.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 878)

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