Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 24: Jerusalem June 2002 — Part 2

As Eli and Fay are in Israel. Fred Smith is also in Israel. Daniel (Dean) and Esther are living happily in Jerusalem, but Daniel has never told Esther anything about his parents.


While Esther was preparing the evening meal, Daniel was in a public phone booth in the tourist section of the city. Each Shabbos, before Rosh Chodesh and after the prayer for the coming new month, he always added a silent prayer, a plea for the safe return of his parents. Then, on each Rosh Chodesh he would make his way to a public phone, generally traveling away from Jerusalem, to do this. He would take his international calling card and punch in the number of the family lawyer, or of his father's secretary. Disguising his voice, he would ask if there was any news of the missing couple Eli and Fay Barton. The answer was always negative.

On this day Daniel had decided that he was foolish to think he was still being sought. He would still use a public phone, but he wouldn't waste time traveling out of town. He went instead just a bus ride away from home and made the call. The response was the usual one.

However, Daniel had the strangest feeling that he was not being given a truthful response. After saying, "No, we have heard nothing." The woman continued. "Who is calling? Would you hold the line for a moment." Daniel became afraid that someone would try to trace the call. His old fears came back to him and he quickly hung up.

Daniel stood for a moment, dejected, deep in thought. Then, as he was about to walk towards the bus-stop to return home, he saw a taxi stop a short distance ahead of him — and who should emerge from it but the same two men who had come chasing after him that day in New York?

Daniel spun around and walked rapidly in the opposite direction. He came to a bus stop and took a bus that had just pulled up, even though it was going in a quite different direction than to his home. Soon he alighted and then found he had to take two busses in order to get home.


Esther began to worry when Daniel didn't arrive home on time. Eventually he came in the door. He didn't apologize for being late. He ate in a distracted fashion, hardly speaking at all. After bentching he said to her. "I think that maybe you should spend Shabbos with your family. No, perhaps you should go before Shabbos, maybe this evening. You should take some things and sleep there."

"Why? They only live down the road? What do you mean, `you'? Surely you don't mean that I should go alone?"

The reply came in a heavy, expressionless, low tone. "Yes, that's just what I mean."

Daniel was insistent. He made her pack a small suitcase. Then he told her to go to her mother. She heard him say to her, "Please believe me. This is for your sake, for your safety. Please don't ask me to explain just do as I say. I will contact you in a day or so. I need to think. I need to see to some things."

Esther felt she was living a nightmare, that she would wake up from it and see the sun streaming in through the blue curtains. What would she tell her family?

Esther made a decision. She knew where Rav Dov lived. Perhaps he could offer an explanation for her husband's strange behavior. She made her way to his house.

Rav Dov received her in his study. His wife brought in hot steaming tea and sponge cake. Esther began to tell her story.

Rav Dov recalled the strange feeling he had after that meeting with Daniel, the feeling of something out of place, something unresolved. Was the story he had listened to true? Daniel had spoken not only of himself, but also of a man called Fred Smith, an assistant to his father, who had gone to Brazil with his parents but had returned alone. True, Daniel had shown him his parent's kesuvoh, but anyone could have handed over a kesuvoh and said it belonged to his parents. The boy knew so little of Jewish things. Was he in fact even Jewish?

Rav Dov called to his wife to make up the bed in the guest room. "Sleep here tonight," he said to Esther. "Tomorrow I will speak to Daniel and see what it is that is making him behave like this."

He hoped that he sounded calmer than he felt. After all he was a man people came to for advice. It would not do for him to sound unsure of himself and so to worry the young girl even more. Yet now he felt that he was facing a number of mysteries — and some of the apparent explanations for Daniel's strange behavior were less than pleasant.

Daniel sat slumped in a chair wondering what to do. He was sure now that he had brought danger to Esther. As midnight approached he could no longer remain where he was. He put on his hat and walked to the Kosel. He returned to the apartment for his tefillin and davened at his usual shul as the sun rose and then made his way back home, tired and troubled and not knowing what to do.

As he arrived he saw the usual pile of newspapers and cartons of milk outside the door. The owner of the shop was just unlocking the door. Daniel greeted him and then began his daily task of taking the goods indoors.


Eli Barchevsky rose early. For forty consecutive days he and his wife had been going to the Kosel. He felt closer to despair than he had ever felt in the last years. He dressed, and walked out of their rented apartment onto the still gray street. He walked aimlessly, gloomy thoughts going around his head.

Suddenly, ahead of him he saw a tall young man, walking with a strangely familiar gait. He went a few paces and watched as the man began to pull crates of milk into the door of a small store.

"Dean!" he shouted out.

The young man spun round. Eli realized his foolishness. The young man had a dark beard. He was wearing a black hat and tzitzis dangled from his waist.

Then he heard: "Dad, is it really you?"

Eli felt the world spin around him. An old man came up to him, and led him to a chair in the store, and sat him down.

"Dad," said the young man. "Dad, is it really you?"

Dean was there, next to him, beaming down at him. It was real. It wasn't a hallucination.


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