Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Shevat 5766 - February 22, 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 14: Esther in Jerusalem (April 2001)

Esther returned from her friend's wedding. The whole class had been together. It was if they had never been separated as they whirled around the bride in joyous dance. The head coverings told a different story. A fair number of the girls were married. Hands told another story. Quite a few girls wore rings to show their new status: they too would soon join the ranks of married women.

There was talk and laughter and phrases such as "Soon by you," rang out.

Esther walked down Tarmav street, looking into the store windows as she passed — the dress shops with their bargains, the book shops piled high to low with shelving filled chock-a- block with merchandise, the sweetshops, souvenir shops and two shekel shops. Her mind was not on anything she saw, but on her meeting the previous evening.

There was no need to wait for the shadchan to call her parents. She knew it had gone badly. First there had been the careful enquiries. The bochur was clever, and he was a good learner. He was prepared to meet her, even though the amount her family could contribute was small. His family was looking for good hashkofoh and middos and apparently everyone they had called had assured them that in this department she was not lacking.

Her mother had looked her over carefully after she was dressed. "You look wonderful my dear. Now remember, just be you own sweet self and I am sure things will go well."

Unfortunately, everything followed the all-too-familiar pattern. She was overcome by shyness. The words clogged up in her throat and when they did emerge they came out in a strange high-pitched taut sound. She couldn't think of sensible answers to the most common queries.

Why did it happen?

She was used to dealing with the public. She arranged with people from all over the world to meet with the director of the Ezrat Horeinu — no, more than that, she actually persuaded these people to meet with him on their forthcoming trip to Israel. She showed groups of ladies around the center, groups from all over the world. Yet faced with a bochur as shy as she was, she went totally tongue- tied.

All these thoughts she tried to put away as she prepared for work. It was a busy time. With the approach of Pesach, letters to all the donors had to be sent out. She had a card index of what they had given, what remarks they had made, if she had met them or spoken to them on the phone, so that she could personalize the letters.

Her small sketchbook lay in a locked drawer. When people left her office she not only wrote down a record of their conversation but also supplemented their words by lightning sketches. Sometimes, with the sketch in front of her and the words from her card index, she could almost feel she really was talking to the person.

Esther sat at her desk and forced herself to concentrate on her work. The extent to which people could be helped depended on the amount of money that donors from all over the world sent to them. She could not let her personal sorrows interfere with her work. She had to excel at her work, even if her performance on the shidduch scene was clearly below what was expected of her.

The director had said to her only a few days ago. "People don't just send checks, they often tell me how much they enjoy your letters. They are so warm and interesting."

Now Esther gave a quiet grim laugh. "So warm and interesting," she thought grimly. Just tell that to the bochur of the previous night, who had sat across from her for the requisite three-quarters of an hour and then gratefully escaped from the room.


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