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Making Ends Meet

Esther Gilbert

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” she shrugged. “I have no idea what Mrs. Hersch wants you for.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock.

“So, does anyone have any questions about perek yud-alef?” Mrs. Klein, our Navi teacher, asked. 

Just then, the principal’s secretary, Miriam, opened the door. All eyes turned toward the door. “Leah, the principal has a message for you,” she said, in all seriousness. 

The class stared. Finally, Malka Bluma blurted, “Leah?” 

Everyone nodded in agreement. Mrs. Klein looked shocked herself. 

Sara Baila shot me a sympathetic, equally confused look. Oy, nebach, everyone’s eyes were screaming. 

“Me?” I asked. 

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” she shrugged. “I have no idea what Mrs. Hersch wants you for.” 

I took a deep breath. Hashem, I try to be good. What could Mrs. Hersch possibly want from me? 

I said a perek of Tehillim in my head as I followed Miriam to the second floor. I self-consciously checked things off in my head — had I had any remotely chutzpahdig encounters with teachers? No! Was my uniform shirt tucked in? Check. Homework all handed in? Check. 

I grew more and more nervous. Something niggled in the back of my consciousness, and I was growing more and more agitated by the moment. The curiosity was killing me. 

Finally, I knocked on the door. I heard, “Come in,” and opened the door. 

“Hello,” Mrs. Hersch greeted warmly. 

“Uh, hi,” I stammered, my hands clammy. 

She patted the seat across from her. “Have a seat, Leah.” 

I took a seat. 

“You must be wondering why you’re here.” Mrs. Hersch said, her eyes on me. 

“Yes, Mrs. Hersch,” I said respectfully. 

“Well, you father called. He had some very joyous news.” 

I hated the suspense. 

“You have a new baby brother. Mazel tov, Leah!” 

A smile slowly spread across my face. My eyes widened. “Mazel tov! Thank you!” 

“You’re a great girl, Leah. A true gem,” she said, looking me in the eye. “Your teachers say great things about you. I’m so happy for you.” 

I blushed scarlet red. “Thank you,” I managed. “Go back to class. I know you have plenty to learn. And mazel tov again.” I bounded out of the room.

Photo: Shutterstock

“And she complimented you?” Chaya Sarah yelled. 

“I know!” 

“Mazel tov,” Sara Baila said. “So you’re visiting your mother and the baby after school?” 

“Yeah,” I gushed. “And he’s eight pounds!” 

Kaila laughed. “Lucky duck. So cute! I have six older brothers.” 

I shrugged dreamily. “What’s his name gonna be?” 

“Who knows?” Sara Baila asked. 

By the end of the day, it felt like the whole school had wished me mazel tov. 

As I talked about it on the way home from school, Sara Baila interrupted my dreaming and scheming for the outfit I would wear for the bris. 

“It’s kind of getting old,” Sara Baila admitted. 

“Old?” I joked. But I was beyond hurt. When she had a new baby sister, I let her rage on for days…even weeks! “But he’s only a few hours old!”

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