t’s Yael’s mother!” I exclaim.

“It might be,” Imma says cautiously.

“How many times could exactly such a thing happen?” I ask. “It has to be her! Everything fits.”

Abba agrees. “It seems to fit our information, but we still need verification.”

“Small world,” Ima muses.

“Now we know why you needed to volunteer davka on that ward,” Abba says. “Nothing happens without a reason.”

Two weeks pass way too quickly. I go to cheder as if nothing is wrong, but inside I’m saying goodbye to everything.

Ima and Yael are coming with us to the court. There is tension in the taxi, except for Yael, who is in an especially good mood. She’s terrified of buses but she loves cars.

The lawyer is not pleased. “You should have left the little one with a babysitter,” he shakes his head. “This judge has no patience for disruptions.”

“Surely it won’t be more than half an hour,” Abba comments. “Yael can sit quietly for that long.”

The lawyer lets out an audible sigh. “If I only knew, I would have warned you not to bring her. Before a ruling is announced, the judge must go over all the material covered in the previous session. It can take hours.” He looks at Yael and shrugs. “It’s too late now. We’ll have to hope for the best.”

“That judge made her decision before we adjourned last time,” I say bitterly. “Why did we have to wait for two weeks just so she can repeat the whole thing?”

“I’m sure the judge reviewed the whole court session from beginning to end,” the lawyer explains patiently. “Now she must tell us how she reached her conclusions. It’s important for both sides to see that her decision was made after considering all the different sides of the issue. Depending on how she reviewed the recommendations of the professionals, we may find grounds to appeal her decision.”

“Appeal?” I almost jump into the front seat to search the lawyer’s face. “You mean that today’s decision is not final?”

With sympathy in his expression, the lawyer replies, “If there is any opening for an appeal you can be sure I will take advantage of it.”

I sit back on the seat and stare out the window. The tiniest pinprick of hope awakens in my heart. Ever since the last court session, I’d more or less convinced myself that separation from my parents was a foregone conclusion. But maybe it isn’t!

The lawyer is bent over his laptop. Abba and Ima speak to each other in murmurs. Yael is bouncing on the seat, full of energy and good spirits. I close my eyes, silently pleading for a yeshuah. If only…

The driver drops us off near the entrance to the Family Court. Yael walks between our parents, her little hands held firmly in theirs. She’s quiet now. The unfamiliar surroundings and constant movement of people alarms her. I follow a little behind them, willing my reluctant feet to carry me forward when I really don’t want to be here at all. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 724)