Serializing a new novel.
Dean Barton sat in his room at Harvard, but his thoughts were
not on his current assignment. He was thinking of his
parents' forthcoming trip to Brazil. He was pleased that his
mother was also going on the trip. He was pleased that his
father continued the Jewish custom of giving ten percent of
the business profits to charity.
However, he was less than sure about the charity itself. When
his grandfather had been alive the money had always gone to
support some cause for Jews who were having financial
Then in later years it went to the inner-city charities that
his mother worked with.
Now, this was a new departure. People said that global
warming would cause catastrophe world wide, so perhaps this
idea, of helping charities that worked to prevent the
destruction of the rain forests of South America, was a good
idea. It was the shortfall in the inner-city charities that
concerned him. His mother had tried to help by spending as
little on herself as possible and contributing the money she
saved in this way, but it in no way came up to the sum given
in previous years.
His grandfather had disapproved of the lifestyle that his
parents led. He wouldn't visit, since they no longer kept
kosher. He wouldn't leave his small poky apartment for a more
luxurious one. "What, leave my shul? Leave my friends? No
thank you" he had said. However, he kept his peace so that
they would continue to visit him every Sunday morning.
Dean had noticed how religious practice in their house
dwindled. When he was just beginning school his mother would
light the candles on Friday night and set the table with a
white cloth and special plaited bread and a great goblet of
wine. Sometimes his father arrived home on time and they
shared the meal. Sometimes his father was late and they ate
alone. By the time he was approaching his teens the candle
lighting remained, but little else.
If his grandfather was aware of these things, he said little.
Only once had his grandfather spoken in angry terms. It was
in the year he turned twelve. "What, you're not making a Bar
Mitzvah for him? What nonsense is this? You want to send him
away to a school where there are no Jews? Where he will be
far away from home? where he will eat treif! You say
this is giving him a good start in life! Where did I go wrong
when I raised you? How can a son of mine behave in this
fashion? What is to become of my grandson?"
They didn't visit for many weeks after that. However, the
visits did begin again, though with this difference. His
grandfather would always take him for a long walk, talking to
him of many things, while his parents remained behind in the
It was on one of these walks that his grandfather hatched a
plan for his bar mitzvah.
"Can Daniel spend the last weekend before he leaves with me?"
he had asked. Dean had begged to be allowed to do this.
So it came to be that on every walk his grandfather took him
to a little park near to his home. They sat together on a
bench as Dean learned the blessings that were said before and
after the reading of the Torah. Sometimes his grandfather
took a small Chumash out of his pocket. "I don't have
enough time to teach you to lehen your parsha,
but together we can learn about it."
So each week Daniel absorbed some of the words of Parshas
Re'eh. One particular phrase stuck in his mind. Before
the Jews crossed into the land that was to be theirs they
heard the words: "He will give your rest from your enemies
all around and you will dwell securely."
In that way, when Dean spent that longed-for weekend in his
grandfather's little apartment, they had walked to a small
shul, and Dean, or rather, Daniel ben Eliezer, had been
called to the reading of the Torah. Afterwards there had been
a celebration, with sweet wine and pickled herring. Dean had
enjoyed every minute. He truly felt that now he was a man. He
basked in the approval and the excitement around him.
All this was kept secret from his parents when they came to
collect him the following day. All through the lonely years
at boarding school, Dean had turned in his thoughts to that
day, to give him endurance and courage as he faced the
hostile taunts. Being a Jew in the society he found himself
in was not a plus, he soon discovered.
However, whenever he was faced with snide remarks, he calmed
himself by thinking of that wonderful moment when he had
ascended the Bimah and chanted the age-old words of
blessing. He longed for the day when he too would be given a
"rest from all his enemies," when he too could "dwell