Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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











Home and Family

Fay Prepares for a Visit to Brazil (New York, May 2000)
by Gita Gordon

Chapter 1

Editor's Note: With this issue we are beginning a new serial story by the author of South African Journeys. It is a story of returning to roots, an estranged family coming back to its Jewish sources. We are sure that you will not want to miss any installments.


Fay Barton sat with the Portuguese manual on her lap while she listened as the sounds came out of the speaker by her side. For the first time in many years she felt as if she was doing something useful. For the first time in many years she felt that she would be sharing decisions with her husband, instead of being pushed aside to fill in her lonely days as best she could.

Their early days of marriage had been a true partnership. Fay thought back to the first day when Eli had taken his new bride into his father's grocery shop on the East Side of New York. She thought back to the untidy array of goods, the counter where bread was piled up haphazardly, and the tired housewives waiting patiently to be served.

Slowly, patiently, tactfully, Fay had worked to make changes. Within a year the shop was sparkling. The walls had been repainted, the shelves lined with bright paper and filled in an orderly fashion, and the customers were served within moments of entering the shop.

The result was an increase in trade, the hire of more staff and within two years the purchase of another store a few blocks away. Fay had moved to the new store and once again she had brought about improvements. Since the longed-for family did not materialize, Fay had continued her work in the store and, year by year, the number of stores they owned had increased.

Then, just as she had given up hope, twenty years after she had married, they were blessed with a fine son. At the same time her husband Eli had taken over a failing chain of supermarkets and by the time their son was ready to begin school the chain was trading successfully and bringing in enormous profits.

Fay had suggested that now that she had a few mornings free she could once again be involved in helping Eli in his work. His answer had hurt her deeply. He had said, "Look, Fay. It is good of you to offer, but running a chain isn't the same as running a little corner store. Why don't you look for a new apartment? We can afford a really good place now. Spend whatever you like on furnishing it. There is really no need for you to bother yourself with the business."

Fay wanted to point out that the principle of running a small store and a supermarket chain were very similar. Customers wanted pleasant organized surroundings and value for money. Staff wanted fair wages and appreciation. These were the improvements she had made to the first store and subsequent stores. These were the suggestions she had made when the failing supermarket chain had been bought. The hurt of her husband's response went so deep that she could not respond.

Now, looking back, she wondered at how her silence had been taken for acquiescence. Would her life have been different if she had stood her ground, argued and been taken into the firm?

It was pointless to think about such things. First she had followed his instructions and set about purchasing a new apartment and furnishing it with great care. Then she had taken up charity work. She remembered the Spanish immigrants who had begun to fill her old neighborhood and the problems they had adapting to a new land. She taught herself Spanish each morning for some months and then, each morning, set out to see what help she could offer. The afternoons were spent with their son.

Life passed by pleasantly enough, but there was a sense of estrangement as her husband worked longer hours and spoke less and less to her about his work. Now, at last it seemed, her husband wanted her involved in the business again. The new assistant, who had been with them for less than a year, had suggested that the charity of their choice for the coming years should be the issue of the environment and the part played by the vanishing rainforest of the Amazon in the increase in global warming. Instead of leaving her at home, as Eli usually did when he went on a business trip, she was going with him. They were going to travel to Brazil and actually see the great Amazon rainforest.

Fay was determined to prove herself on this trip. She wanted to be part of his world of work once again. With the aid of recordings and notebooks she was determinedly using her knowledge of Spanish to learn Portuguese as rapidly as she could. Once they arrived in Brazil she could surprise her husband with her knowledge.


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