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Bluma Schur

Our history is not something I’m proud of, to say the least. We were the modern-day story of Yaakov and Eisav, the stereotypical tale of two sisters shadowed by a long history of enmity

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

My mind was spinning with unfamiliar smells and sounds and questions. My heart beating, I tiptoed past the smell of floor cleaner and medication and illness, past the pale-green walls, the over-waxed tiles, and the sounds of the hushed chatter of nurses and beeping machines. Room 523. Where am I? Where is room 523? What am I doing here anyway? 

Ah. Room 523. I entered. Sitting up stiffly, her hands hugging her knees, was Minna. She looked the same, except for her complexion, which had an uncharacteristic pallor, and her demeanor, which had an uncharacteristic humility. I cleared my throat, uncomfortably. 

“Uh... hi,” I said. 

Minna looked at me for a moment with eyes that flashed with wonder and gratitude and shame and then quickly looked down at her knees. Her lips quivered. 

“Tell me, Bracha,” she said, while tears spilled down her chin and onto her sheet. “Why are you doing this for me?” 

My eyes suddenly filled and my throat was too choked up to respond. What should I have said? How could I have told her that I was doing this less for her and more for my own good? That coming here would close an ugly chapter in my life and allow me to move on? I stepped inside the whitewashed room and sat down on a chair facing the foot of Minna’s bed. And for the first time ever, we sat quietly, facing each other and looking straight into each other’s eyes. Then, we talked. And we cried.

Photo: Shutterstock

Minna happens to be my sister, and also my twin, but that is about as much as we ever had in common. We are very different. Mina is tall, blonde, and unusually robust. I am dark, short, and wily. Mina is charming, charismatic, boisterous, the star of the show and life of the party. I am shy, serious, short on self-confidence, and introspective. Needless to say, we never got along. And that’s a serious understatement. 

Our history is not something I’m proud of, to say the least. I think we rubbed each other the wrong way in our mother’s womb. We were the modern-day story of Yaakov and Eisav, the stereotypical tale of two sisters shadowed by a long history of enmity. We were never able to get along for even one minute. My parents were at a total loss and had no choice but to keep us as far as possible as two sisters the same age can be from each other. Minna slept in the attic and I slept in the basement. We were, of course, always placed in different classes. When Minna applied to one summer camp, I had no choice but to apply to another. 

Things took a turn for the worse once we reached high school. I’m not really sure how it started and who started it, but, honestly, it doesn’t matter now. One morning, as soon as I walked up to the third floor of my school building, I felt that something was wrong. Daggers were flashing behind me. Wherever I went, hushed whispers, fixed eyes, and accusing fingers were clawing at my flesh like a deadly parasite. It didn’t take long to find out that this was all Minna’s doing. I’ll never know why she felt justified to do what she did; only Hashem knows the hidden recesses of person’s heart. But in a moment of fury and confusion, my sister, Minna, had spread toxic, false rumors about me, which were eating at my very soul.

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