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Shared Space: Chapter 5

Dov Haller

“Wow. That’s pretty nasty. Whatever, I’m very excited about your father’s plan; sorry you can’t see my enthusiasm” It was quiet, then

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"W

agner calls the guys who live here ‘sports jackets,’ ” Kivi said, looking out the window at the Summit sign and snorting.

“I don’t get it.” Malky looked genuinely perplexed.

“You know, they’re all like, so excited about going to work, all briefcases and cool jackets and ‘Should my work name be Kevin or something cool, like Jared?’ and ‘Look at me, I’m so balabatish.’ You know what I mean?”

“No, I really don’t.” Malky stood up. She wasn’t generally one for confrontation, but Kivi could see a storm brewing.

“I need to ask you something, Kivi,” she said. “You came home last night and seemed so optimistic. Aryeh will help you find your footing, it was all so exciting. You were going to do your own thing, and have my family’s backing, right? So what happened? Why are you all negative now?”

Kivi hesitated, unsure if he should tell her what he’d explained to Wagner.

He’d told Wagner about Uncle Nochum, Benjy Halb’s younger brother.

Kivi knew that his father-in-law had started in real estate with Zeidy’s help. Zeidy Halb had bought a small building in the garment district years earlier, and when Benjy joined his father’s textile business, he’d seen more opportunity in the property than in polyester pants and zip-up sweaters.

Benjy had persuaded his father to allow him to develop the space, tearing down walls, adding floors, bringing in new tenants, and never looking back. Uncle Nochum had joined the business a few years later. Unlike Benjy, he’d never really gotten the hang of real estate and wished they were still manufacturing dry goods, maintaining that polyester was coming back in style any day now.

The clothing business had long since closed and Zeidy had happily retired to a life of daf yomi and l’chayim after Shacharis and chess and the shuffle up and down the block he called exercise. Uncle Nochum told his children he was a full partner in Halb, but Kivi caught the tightness in his father-in-law’s face when the topic came up.

He remembered returning to his in-laws’ home after Nochum’s daughter’s chasunah, and listening to them discuss the elaborate wedding.

“I mean, we didn’t even serve lamb chops at Malky’s wedding, and he feels it’s appropriate?” Benjy Halb said.

“Ha,” Naomi said, “of course he does. He’s been telling the shadchanim and mechutanim and anyone else who will listen that he’s your partner, so he has to. You don’t.”

Benjy had given her a look that meant some conversations were better conducted in private and they’d left the living room.

Kivi had described the scene to Wagner and said, “Look, I don’t want to be that guy in the family, waiting for handouts and my share of a pie that was made somewhere else. Aryeh has married kids, Shimmy has married kids, they’re all going to be around soon and then I’ll be Uncle Nochum. I wanted my shver to make me part of the action, not to give me a tutor and a few dollars.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 710)

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