heva slipped out the classroom door and down the hallway, feeling like a fugitive. Was it written on her face, where she was going? Although even if it were, no one ever looked at her anymore, anyway.

She stood outside the small office door, hesitating. She wasn’t here to talk to Mrs. Brandweis this time, but still, this place brought back bad memories. Sheva squared her shoulders. She wasn’t going there today. Today she was being strong and mature and proactive. Her mother had told her to start by discussing it with Mrs. Dickstein. All she had to do was knock on the door. There was nothing to be afraid of. This was Mrs. Dickstein’s job. The worst thing that could happen was that she would say no.

But she would still be extra super careful to make sure the door was closed tightly behind her.

Sheva knocked and stepped into the office. “Hi,” she began awkwardly. “I’m supposed to come talk to you…”

Mrs. Dickstein looked up; Sheva saw warm gray eyes over sliding-down glasses and a crinkly smile. Instantly Sheva liked her. “You must be Sheva,” she said. She smiled at Sheva like she had been waiting all day just to see her. “Come in, sit down.” She waited, looking slightly puzzled, while Sheva yanked the door completely shut. “Your mother did tell me you wanted to see me. Although I’m not sure how I can help. I usually help the 12th-graders, you know.”

“I know,” said Sheva. She smoothed out the pleats in her skirt and leaned forward earnestly. “I know you really work with the 12th-graders. And even if I was in 12th grade, it would be pretty late to come to you. But the thing is, I really need your help. It’s a long story, but you’re the one in charge of applications. I hope you can help me, even though I’m only in 11th grade…” Did she have the guts to finish her sentence? “Because I really want to go to seminary next year.”

Mrs. Dickstein didn’t mince words. The odds were stacked high and tight against her: she was in 11th grade, a year too young for seminary; it was the end of the school year already, and the seminary application process had been completed long ago. Even in the best-case scenario, 12th-graders who applied on time didn’t always get accepted to the seminary of their choice. What in the world was she thinking?

“So are you saying you won’t help me?” Sheva asked in desperation.

The silence stretched, but then Mrs. Dickstein shook her head. “I will help you,” she said slowly. “All our 12th-graders are already placed for next year. I can help you. But I cannot make any promises.”

That was more than enough for Sheva. As far as she was concerned it was a done deal. She was going toIsrael!