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Sometimes, when things seem darkest, a miracle happens, “out of the blue.” Join us for Jr.’s Pesach story supplement, where we find out how a Hand from Above saves us, time and again
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
O verworked, overstrained, overtasked, with limited food or sleep — this was the state Klal Yisrael was living in while in galus Mitzrayim. A new king had risen, a new Pharaoh who (said he) didn’t know of Yosef. How long would this go on? They must have wondered. It seemed like forever.
Then, on an ordinary day, Moshe and Aharon appeared with surprising news. “Hashem sent us to inform you that He will release us from this slavery.” The release also arrived at a most unexpected time — midnight. Klal Yisrael fled, only to learn they were being chased by the Mitzrim, and hitting a dead end at the water. That’s when we experienced the most unpredicted miracle — Kri’as Yam Suf.
So many of us are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and so many of our zeides and bubbies have countless stories of how they were near certain death when “out of the blue” a Hand from Above saved them, time and again. With this in mind, I’m happy to present Jr.’s Pesach story supplement, a superb collection from our talented fiction writers.
Enjoy and a gut Yom Tov!
Dovid Lemberg couldn’t believe his eyes. The rays of the setting sun shone on a golden treasure before him. Dovid had found many treasures before, but none as special as this. He quickly bent down and pulled it out of the box of trash in front of his neighbor’s house.
Wow! Dovid thought. How could the Goldmans have thrown out such a valuable treasure? He held it up to study it. It was a beautiful skateboard. Dovid had never seen a skateboard painted with such sparkly gold paint.
So what if the skateboard is missing one wheel? It still has three good wheels, and it’s painted such an amazing color. This is definitely the best treasure I have ever found.
Dovid carefully put the skateboard into his red wagon. It was six thirty, Dovid’s favorite time of day. He had already eaten supper and done his homework. Now, it was Treasure Hunting time, the time he walked around the neighborhood looking for good stuff people had thrown away. He’d found old cameras, working musical instruments, even the steering wheel of a car. So many wonderful things. What most people thought of as junk, Dovid thought of as treasures. Today had been a great day already, and Dovid had just started hunting.
Dovid had been a treasure hunter as long as he could remember. His mother kept reminding him of the day in kindergarten that he came home from school with a bright blue stuffed toy fish. His morah had tried to throw it away, because one of its eyes had fallen out, but Dovid had begged his morah to let him keep it. It still sat proudly on top of his treasure case in his room. Dovid never understood why his mother didn’t like the things he brought home. She thought they were just useless pieces of junk. She never seemed to understand how truly valuable they really were to Dovid.
Dovid shrugged. At least his mother didn’t make him throw them away. As long as he kept them neatly in the special bookcase his father had made for him to store his collection of finds, she never bothered him about them.
There was only one person in the world who really appreciated Dovid’s treasures. That was his best friend, Shuey Edelstein, who lived three blocks away. Shuey also had a wagon, and treasure hunted at the same time as Dovid. The two friends had divided their neighborhood in half, and each boy hunted only in his half of town. When they got home, they’d call each other to compare finds. Sometimes they’d trade treasures with each other.
Dovid was pretty sure Shuey would want to trade for the golden skateboard. Shuey had a whole box of spare parts, and was a wiz at fixing things. One missing wheel on a skateboard wouldn’t bother Shuey at all. (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)
“Remember, boys,” Rebbi said, “the schools with 1,000 points will enter the grand raffle for all new playground equipment, and I don’t have to tell you how much our schoolyard can use the upgrade… so do your absolute best in portraying your makkah and making it realistic.”
“So what’d you guys get for the makkos fair?” Moishe asked Dovid and Eli at recess.
“Kinim,” they said together.
Eli’s eyes sparkled. “We already have some great ideas about lice and creepy-crawlies.”
“Which makkah did you get?” Dovid asked.
“I’m working with Yanky, and we got Dam.”
“That’s also a great one,” Eli said. “Any ideas?”
“Not yet, but leave it to us,” Moishe said. “We’re going to do something really amazing. I bet this year, our school will take the makkos fair to a whole new level.”
“How about you, Shmulie?” Moishe said. “What’d you get?”
“Who are you doing it with?”
“Me, myself, and I.”
Moishe laughed. “At least the three of you get along.”
“You know, you can do something really incredible with frogs,” Dovid said.
Shmulie shook his head. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not wasting my time on anything too difficult.”
“Waste your time?”
“Yeah. I’m keeping it really easy.”
“But, Shmulie,” Moishe said, “for our school to win, we need every point we can get. Remember how tough the judges were at the last fair?”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Shmulie said. “I worked for weeks on that project and only scored a measly six from each judge. I should have gotten all tens!” He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I’m taking it nice and easy this time.”
“But we need you. Every point counts.”
“You can earn the points without me.”
The boys groaned in frustration. They’d just have to work harder on their own projects to make up the difference in points. (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)
“Here it is,” announced my father as he maneuvered the gray van up the steep driveway. “Home, sweet home for the next five days!”
His announcement was met with the sound of seatbelt buckles opening, stretches and yawns from my two younger sisters, who’d been sleeping, elbowing and jostling from the boys in the backseat, who all wanted to get out first, and cries from the baby, who desperately wanted freedom from her car seat. But me? I just stared. I’ve always had a thing for scenery — and this was a feast for my eyes. Distant, blue mountains lined the horizon. Several hundred feet away, I could see the shallow, snaking river that gurgled past our cabin. Fallen logs, overgrown grass, old trees with gnarled branches… And to the left, the forest beckoned. Ah, Virginia at her best!
“Rikki! Come inside!” Naftali’s voice jolted me from my daydreams. He’d come back for his pillow.
I’m 11 and I don’t like when people tell me what to do, least of all when the person in question happens to be nine, male, related to me, and thinks he knows everything about everything on the planet.
Naftali grabbed something brown from a patch of grass, and quickly stuck it to my back. “Welcome to vacation!” he yelled.
“Naftali!” I hollered as I jumped about frantically, trying to get what I knew was a six-legged critter off my back. “Get this thing off meeeee!”
“Don’t panic! I’ll rescue you!”
“Where is it?! Is it off?” I panted.
“Here,” replied my gracious brother as he bent over in a gentlemanly fashion to pick the offensive creature off my skirt hem. Only then did I see that the “bug” was actually a small, crumpled, brown leaf….
“You. Are. In sooooo much trouble, Naftali Tzvi Singman,” I said slowly. “You are not gonna get away with this!”
“Calm down, Riks! It was just a joke!” He waved his hand in signature Naftali-fashion. “C’mon, bring your stuff inside, and let’s start the new Boggle game that we brought! Avi and Meir are waiting.”
I followed silently. Why did he have to come along, again? Oh, right. This was a family vacation, as Mommy had stressed. We were supposed to use this time to bond with each other. Ha, as if that was going to happen with Naftali around to mess up my peaceful vacation. It was going to be a long five days. (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)
Penni (short for Penina, in case you were wondering) walked down the sidewalk, looking right and then left before crossing the street, just as she’d learned two years ago. It was habit by now. A fringe of sunlight tickled her face. She blinked a few times and cocked her head to the side, listening.
“Hey! It’s that girl!” someone said. She turned toward the voice, noticing a man with a camera just as he took a series of photos of her.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m taking a picture of the girl who nabbed the pickpocket,” the man said as he pressed the button again.
“Pickpocket?” Penni said. “I didn’t nab any pickpocket! What does nabbing a pickpocket mean anyway?”
“You caught the thief!” the man said.
“I didn’t catch any thieves today. I’m on my way to the drugstore to pick up dental floss for my mother. She has orange pieces stuck between her teeth, by the way, and is probably very uncomfortably waiting for me right now.”
The photographer turned to a man standing next to him. Penni imagined he was another photographer since he also had a camera slung around his neck.
“Will you listen to her? Not only does she nab a pickpocket but she’s so unbelievably modest about it!”
“I’m not being modest,” Penni shouted. “I’m just not the girl.” But nobody would listen to her. They took a few more photos and ran away.
Penni continued on her way to the drugstore where she was rather befuddled by the array of choices in the dental floss department. Did she want string or picks? Mint-flavored or regular? Thick or thin? Long or short? She wondered if it might be easier never to eat an orange again.
Eventually, she settled on the cheapest option and brought it home to her family.
“Ma,” she said, “you won’t believe what happened to me.” She told her mother the story of the two strange photographers.
“Don’t worry,” her mother said. “I’m sure all will be forgotten by tomorrow.”
Well, things were most certainly not forgotten by tomorrow because the very next day, the local circular was delivered to Penni’s front doorstep and guess whose photo was plastered on the cover? It was Penni! (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)
I never figured out how the guys just know who’s in charge. I mean, Rebbi just announced the Shabbos expo and divided the class into four groups. How did everyone automatically know that Rubin is in charge of our group? For that matter how did Rubin know? He just started talking, making decisions, and no one said a word.
“Let’s build a life-size barn,” Rubin announced. “It’ll be awesome. We can create a whole display inside, all the melachos. We can put in spotlights and everything!”
Right away Kellman said, “Awesome.” Kellman always says “awesome” to whatever Rubin says. Then a couple more guys agreed, and Malinberg said his uncle could probably get the spotlights, and that was that.
Then Rebbi announced that class was starting again, and Rubin told everyone to start collecting wood and to bring it to the woods behind his house on Fourth Street. I got a little nervous when I heard that, but I guess they’re not my woods… and Rubin was in charge.
“How was school today?” my mother asked, like she always does the minute I come home.
“What’s for supper?” I answered, like I always do.
“Meatballs. We’re just waiting for Tatty.”
I hate meatballs. I looked out the window. There was still a little pink in the sky, glowing over the trees behind the house. “Can I go out?”
My mother frowned. “We’re about to eat.”
“I’ll be back soon.”
I could tell she didn’t think I would be, but she didn’t say anything else, so I slipped out the back door and in an instant I was swallowed up by the trees.
I love that moment — three steps into the forest — when I can’t hear the street anymore. It’s like I’m suddenly on another planet, in a secret world, in a magic place. I love the hideout I built in the tallest evergreen. I love how I can sit at the top of the tree, with just one last layer of leaves overhead so I feel safe and protected, or poke my head out and feel like I’m floating in the endless sky.
Today I chose safe and protected. I folded my legs against the wooden floor and leaned back against the trunk. But then I heard him.
There was a kid there. A kid moving among the trees, looking around slowly, like he was searching for something. Then he bent down, hefted a fallen branch, and turned to go, taking it with him.
Who was he? What did he need it for? How did he even find this place? My place? (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)
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