July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

By Ariella Aaron

Chapter 27 Summary: Jake spends Shabbat in Lakewood, New Jersey where Shani and Moriah fill him in on their grandparents’ will. Moriah suggests the grandchildren launch the foundation. She speaks with her mother and learns about Ilana’s dream to start a fertility organization.


“Thanks for driving me, Aunt Yaffa,” Moriah said as they pulled up at the Taubman’s house. “I haven’t been here to visit since the day Grandpa came home.”

Yaffa squirmed guiltily in her seat. Was she a terrible daughter? Why should it have taken Moriah’s request to see her grandparents to spur her to make this trip to her parents? Shani and Tzippy were out with friends, enjoying one of their last days of summer vacation. Yaffa had planned on bringing her boys with her but her mother had vetoed the idea.

“Dad is still very weak and tired,” she’d explained on the phone. “I don’t think he’ll be able to handle the kids.”

Yaffa had tried to swallow her hurt. Okay, her boys were boys — they wouldn’t sit in a chair with their hands folded for three hours straight — but as boys went, they weren’t particularly rambunctious. How could her parents reject a visit from their own grandsons? The thought had taken her down a path she’d been trying hard to avoid ever since her conversation with her rav, who’d advised her to try to let go of her anger and pretend she hadn’t seen the will that she should never have read to begin with.

She was trying. But boy, was it hard.

Gail greeted them by the front door. “Ari and Debbie just left. I told them you were coming but they said they couldn’t stick around; they had some kind of appointment.” Yaffa pressed her lips. Appointment, her foot: she and Debbie had not exchanged a word since their disastrous phone call.

She cleared her throat. “Debbie came for a visit too? How nice.”

“Yes, she had a novel to lend me,” Gail said brightly. “So sweet, she knows the kinds of books I like.” Instantly suspicious, Yaffa asked, “What book? Can I see it?”

Gail gestured to the book sitting on the coffee table. “You can borrow it after me if you’d like.”

Wincing at the picture on the cover, Yaffa hurriedly said, “No, thanks, that’s okay.” But as her mother turned to Moriah to ask her how she’s been, Yaffa picked up the book and read the summary on the back. After being disinherited by her family, Melinda travels the world to seek healing, finding both comfort and danger when she meets…

Yaffa bit her lip. So Debbie was still at it.

“Where’s Grandpa?” Moriah asked eagerly.

“He’s in the kitchen with Marie, eating lunch.” Moriah stood up. “So, let’s join him. Why should he eat all alone?”

Gail looked hesitant. “Oh, I don’t think so,” she murmured, but her Israeli granddaughter strode into the kitchen. Amused, Yaffa followed with Gail in her wake.

“How are you Grandpa?” Moriah asked, giving him a kiss on the cheek. Larry, still chewing his chicken, squinted at her. Moriah sat down cross-legged on the chair next to him; Marie, sitting on Larry’s other side, was patiently cutting his food and helping him navigate the fork to his mouth.

Abruptly, Larry pushed his plate away.

“How – are – you?” he asked, reaching up to stroke her face. “Great!” Moriah began to chat about her upcoming Sherut Leumi in the special ed school, about Matan’s coming army service, about her mother’s volunteer work in the library. Yaffa threw her a look of surprise; she’d never seen Moriah this talkative before.

“…Yeah, Ima’s really great at running those children’s groups at the library, you know how much she loves kids. Well, that’s no shock, considering how badly she wanted to have more kids of her own.”

Yaffa watched as Gail’s eyes widened and Larry stared at her in confusion. But Moriah plowed on. “Of course, what she’d really love to do is to start an organization supporting women who’ve gone through infertility. Ima would be amazing at that; she totally gets what these women need, considering all the pain she went through herself.”

Gail blinked. “Pain? What are you talking about?”

Moriah faltered, nonplussed. “Um, you know, all those years she wanted to have kids. Like, before Matan and I were born? And then afterwards, too?” Seeing her grandparents’ blank looks, she threw a startled look at Yaffa. “I mean, Ima talks about this all the time!”

Yaffa understood her niece’s bewilderment. How could she possibly know to what extent the Taubman children shielded their parents from anything uncomfortable going on in their lives? How could a teenager be expected to understand such a phenomenon when Yaffa herself — and she’d guess, Ari and Ilana as —would be hard-pressed to explain how this odd relationship had come about? Was it a result of her father’s lifelong ethic of “work hard, don’t complain, and don’t ask for favors” trickling down to his kids? A result of her mother’s childlike innocence that made her appear too fragile to handle any disturbance to her universe?

Now Larry was frowning, as Gail said slowly, “Your mother never said anything about this to me. Maybe you misunderstood?”

Moriah blinked. Just drop the subject, Yaffa tried conveying to her with her eyes, but Moriah didn’t pick up on the silent message.

“Um … no, I don’t think so. Anyway,” she continued, her voice picking up in strength, “I think this can be a really important organization and I’d love to help her get it off the ground. But the problem, she told me, is that she needs funding to start it.”

Yaffa glanced at her sharply, but Moriah’s eyes were trained on her grandfather. “Would you happen to know of someone who’s looking to invest funds in a really worthwhile charitable organization?”

Yaffa sucked in her breath. So this was why Moriah had wanted to visit so badly. But … how did she know? How had the grandchildren found out? She closed her eyes, remembering the secretive way the kids had behaved over Shabbat, the way Shani had told Jake, “We have a lot to talk about.” Shani already knew about the money … had she discovered the news about the will as well?

Larry was considering Moriah thoughtfully. “That’s – beautiful. You – want – to – help – your – mother.” He looked at Gail and Yaffa was startled to notice a twinkle in his eye that she hadn’t seen since before his illness. “Maybe – we – do – know – someone.”

***

On the way back home, Yaffa debated how to delicately bring up the topic she was dying to ask about. But it turned out, Moriah brought it up herself. “Aunt Yaffa? Was Grandma serious when she said Ima had never spoken to her about her infertility? Or was she just trying to, y’know, protect me ‘cuz she thought I was too young to know about this?”

“No,” Yaffa said slowly. “She was serious. Your mother — all of us — we don’t tend to discuss these things with Grandma and Grandpa.” Plunging on, she added casually, “So tell me, how did you find out about their will?”

“Their what?”

Yaffa paused. Had she been too hasty in jumping to conclusions? Maybe Moriah had just heard about the $15 million and was trying to take advantage of it the way Shani had asked Grandpa to finance her cosmetics business?

“Um … their money—”

“Oh, you mean the tzedakah foundation? Shani told me about it; she, uh, overheard you talking … Wait a second, it was written in their will?”

Apparently, Shani hadn’t heard that part. Way to let the cat out of the bag, Yaffa.

“Well, yes. That’s how we found out; we happened to see a copy.”

“I hadn’t realized …” Moriah was silent for a moment. “I thought they wanted to start giving away their money now. I didn’t realize they meant to do it after they passed away.” Glancing over, Yaffa saw the frown on her face.

“I don’t get it,” Moriah said. “Why wait? Why wouldn’t they want to do it themselves? It’s like, they did all the hard work of making the money — and they’re leaving all the pleasure of doing good with it to their kids?”


Ariella Aaron is an internationally published writer with a unique talent for writing stories that are entertaining and thought-provoking, with characters who are eminently relatable. A former resident of Northern New Jersey, Ariella has now transplanted her family to Israel, where she is happily living the dream of raising her brood in our homeland.

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