J efferson Place was a typical apartment building occupied mainly by kollel families. The glass doors regularly swung open for women pushing strollers, men clutching tallis bags, babysitters, handymen, and mail carriers, all thumbing the combination scrawled in Hebrew on a piece of paper taped to the front door.

Shiri pressed the beis, daled, alef, gimmel and let herself in. She’d forgotten how narrow the entrance was. Her last visit to her brother’s apartment had been over a year ago, before she left for seminary. This was her first solo trip to visit her brother, arranged so that she could help her sister-in-law, Dassa, recover from the birth of her second child.

Shiri knocked on apartment 8.

“Coming!” she heard Dassa call. Then the door was flung open and Dassa warmly welcomed her inside.

Dassa ushered Shiri into the second bedroom. Shiri surveyed the folding cot, next to the crib. Dassa had folded the towels into a neat flower at the foot of the bed, and the room looked warm and inviting, albeit a bit crowded.

“It’s not the Ritz,” Dassa apologized.

“I’m not a guest,” Shiri assured her, “I’m family. And besides, I want to share a room with my yummiest nephew. That’s the whole reason I came!”

“Just wait until I show you your new niece, you’ll have a hard time picking a favorite,” Dassa promised.

The next morning, Shiri took Yaakov to the park. He made a beeline for the slide and Shiri settled onto the bench, keeping an eye on him. The two women next to her were deep in conversation.

“I saw her in the laundry room, and you cannot imagine how many undershirts there were.”

“My baby goes through two onesies a day, with twins it must be impossible to keep up.”

“She said she was fine, but she looked exhausted. I think we should do suppers for one more week.”

The other woman nodded. “You’re right. I’ll do the calls for my floor, if you’ll take the third and fourth.”

Then the two women caught sight of Shiri.

“Hi, what’s your name?” one woman asked.

“Shiri Daniels.”

“Oh, Dassa’s sister-in-law. She told me you were coming. I’m Dassa’s next-door neighbor,” she added.

“Nice to meet you,” Shiri whispered, suddenly shy.

“You just got back from seminary, right?” the other woman asked. “Dassa was telling us about you.”

“Yes. I’m just visiting for a few days.”

“It’s so nice you came to help out,” the first woman nodded, “and maybe you’re checking things out for yourself, too?” She winked. “Dassa would love if you’d move here after you’re married. I know she’s dying to have family nearby.”

“Leave her alone,” the other woman urged. “She just got back from seminary, she’s probably still in the clouds, right?”

Shiri smiled and excused herself to push Yaakov on the swings. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 706)