Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Adar 5766 - March 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 16: Esther in Jerusalem September 2001

Esther works in the public relations department of Ezrat Horeinu. She is not married and thinks about her situation a lot, as do most similar girls her age.

Esther realized as she walked to work that nearly a year had passed since she had left seminary and started her job at Ezrat Horeinu. At the time it had seemed to her that it would be an ideal job to continue when she was married, so near to her home in Geulah, and near to the center of Jewish learning in Meah Shearim where many of the kollels were situated. However, she now began to wonder if she would ever find her besherte, if all her life she would walk this path from her parents' home to work.

Her younger sister would soon be graduating from her teacher- training course at the seminary. She too would be offered shidduchim. At the moment, her parents were refusing offers, hoping that their older daughter would marry first. It wasn't fair to her younger sister to be held back in this way. She would have to speak to her parents and tell them.

During her time of working with American tourists, her English had improved. She had even learned some idiomatic expressions. One of them seemed apt. When someone didn't answer a question, she had heard the response, "What, has the cat got your tongue?"

It seemed to Esther that every time she sat in her parent's living room, looking at a bochur, the cat definitely did get hold of her tongue.

Now she made her way through the green door, passed the girls sitting at the switchboard, and down the stairs to her small office.

She put all thoughts away and began to concentrate on the work of the day. First she looked at the list of phone calls she had to make. The local calls she could make immediately. The calls abroad had to be worked out carefully to ensure that she called at a suitable time. Calls to America generally could only be made in the afternoon.

By midday she had cleared her desk of the most urgent items. Now she could attend to routine matters. She looked at the leaflet that had come from the printer and needed a final check before the print run. She was deep in concentration when Yehudit came and sat down before her. "Put that down for a moment, I want to talk to you," she heard.

She looked up in surprise. Yehudit was the volunteer cook. She came once a week, went straight to the kitchen and got right down to work. What could she want?

"I have a good idea for a shidduch for you," she heard her say.

Esther's whole being constricted within her. At least, here at work, she had been free from the feeling of the pressure and failure of shidduchim. She forced a smile on her face.

"He learns at Mir Yeshiva. He is an American, here on his own without his family. My husband says his Hebrew is good — really good — for an American who has only been here little over a year. He is a good boy, a quiet boy, a good learner, my husband says. Can I contact your mother? Can you give me her phone number?"

As Yehudit left the room Esther wanted to run after her and shout: "What? How can I meet an American? I can't even find anything to say to Israelis, people who have grown up here, and who speak the same language as I do. What can I possibly find to say to an American?"

However she did nothing of the sort, sitting at her desk as if glued to it, and contemplating yet another evening of dressing up and being admired by her mother and sending everyone out of the living room to their bedroom — and then the horrible letdown afterwards.

How would she have felt if she had known that the bochur had been approached by Yehudit's husband and his response had been equally negative? It had only been after a long discussion with Rav Dov at the yeshiva that he had agreed to the meeting.

Later that day, Yehudit spoke to her husband. "The girl agreed," she said.

He looked at her for a while before replying. "You know, I don't have a good feeling about this. First you try and persuade him to visit us and he definitely doesn't want to. Now you don't even know him and you try and force a shidduch on him. He spoke to Rav Dov and he was told to take the offer by Rav Dov himself. But I must tell you, he didn't look too happy about it."

Yehudit was a very determined woman. She had been thinking about Esther each time she passed her office on the way to the kitchen. Though she had little to do with her, she had always heard such favorable comments, "Such a sweet helpful girl," and then always the refrain, "It is time she was married. Can't you suggest someone? You know so many people."

"I don't know," Yehudit replied, "Unlike you, I do have a good feeling about this shidduch. But maybe you are correct. With the children married and so far away, I think I have too little to do — too much time to sit and think. Next time I will give matters more thought before I involve myself in an introduction for a shidduch."


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