Binyamin turned down the hall toward his kollel. Beside him, Mickey kept up a steady stream of chatter. “So, I thought could combine new and young with the ancient feel of a Talmudic learning group, do you get my drift?”

Binyamin scratched his head. “Kinda.”

“Like we should take you guys and put you out in the garden, where there are new trees and buds and young flowers, as a backdrop.”

“Eh, it’s winter now, Mickey,” Binyamin tried. “Not much in the way of buds, I’m afraid. Look, why don’t I introduce you to the other guys, and we’ll take it from there?”

Mickey flashed him a grin. Binyamin stopped at the door. “Here’s the thing. This is kind of… unexpected. They, uh, didn’t know you were coming. So maybe give me a minute...” For a dark moment, Binyamin wondered how in the world he would explain this. “Or maybe not,” he amended. In front of Mickey, the oilem couldn’t make a proper scene.

He opened the door to find the rosh kollel frowning, gesturing with his hands. Sanders, Steinmetz, and Eisner were standing around him, still in their coats. They all turned.

“Good morning,” Binyamin said. “What’s going on?”

Rabbi Neuwirth gave a dim smile. “More of the same. The administration here has their own plans for this space. But we’ll see.”

Binyamin swallowed. He knew that for the rest of the guys, it was just a technical problem. But for him, it was about losing Itche and Davie and Chaskel. Did Rabbi Neuwirth realize this? For a blistering moment, he thought of Kaylie, of Uncle Avi. “We’ll find a way to make this work,” he said stiffly.

Rabbi Neuwirth smiled, but he was looking past him, at Mickey.

“Oh,” Binyamin said, pasting on a broad smile. “This is Mickey Anderson, the nephew of the floor manager here at Crowne. He’s an artist, and uh, he wants to do, um, a painting, of us learning.”

This was so ridiculous, so utterly ridiculous, and he knew it. Rabbi Neuwirth cleared his throat, the guys gaped at him. Silently, he begged them to be nice.

“Oh,” Tzvi said, blinking. “Hi.”

Mickey beamed. “Hey. I can’t wait to get started. I think this will be an amazing experience for all of us.”

Rabbi Neuwirth squinted at Binyamin. “Experience,” he muttered.

Binyamin rubbed his temples. “Look, Mickey,” he began, wondering what he would say. Then, suddenly, he knew. “At one, we’ll be in the lounge. We have a learning session with some of the residents from here. I think that would be a very meaningful scene to capture.” Binyamin stopped abruptly. Now, this was an idea! Finally, he had his campaign. PR, the right way. “You’ll have the vintage, and the new, and everything together. I’m sure. You’ll see us, connecting to people from a different generation, through the timelessness of the Talmudical texts, do you realize? It’s... it’s...” he searched for the right word, a Mimi-kind-of-word. “It’s breathtaking.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 593)