Thursday, October 29, 2009

An excerpt.

Tobie and I are in the process of writing a novel. How far along with it we will get remains to be seen. The fundamental storyline is that of a young Jewish girl and her search for a shidduch. Told in the language and style of Jane Austen. :) We're having quite a bit of fun with it.

Originally, we were having difficulties getting the dialogue properly Austenian, so we wrote it more or less colloqially. We have mostly translated the dialogue into Austenian at this point, but the original is fun in its own right, so we thought we'd print it here for you're viewing enjoyment.

Character Sheet:
Shoshana Friedman- (21) Heroine. Bais Yakkov lichol dvar viinyan, with an unfortunate congenital tendency towards thinking. Works as a teacher at the local girls’ high school, and is assistant producer for the school production.
Batya Friedman Glass - (23)married older sister with a six month old girl (Hadar); accountant; daati leumi, lives in the neighborhood.
Benny Glass- (26)husband of Batya father of Hadar; patent lawyer.
Avi Friedman - (24) Oldest child; learning full time at a very prestigious local yeshiva/college program, getting a degree in education.
Ariella Friedman- (16) Youngest child. Social and peripherally intellectual rebel; insane; goes by “Spike.’ (Playing Reb Yid in the school production “Hidden Majesty.”) Wears all black when not in uniform.
Motti Scheinberg- (24)Son of the head of a prestigious kollel for marred guys and is head of an important regional hechsher out of town; Avi’s chavrusa and best friend, eats at their house all the time (ben bayit.)
Devorah Samber - (21) Shoshana’s best friend; secretary at same high school. Has brother with Downs’ Syndrome.
Joe/Yosef Friedman- (54) Father to everyone else named Friedman except for his wife. Baal teshuva, spiritual, into gematrias; floaty.
Estelle/Esther Friedman - (55) Mother to everyone else named Friedman except for her husband. Baalat teshuva,; more young Israel oriented except she never goes to shul ; not so into the whole thing bichlal, kinda just goes with the flow.

The Adventures of Shoshanna Friedman, Chapter 1:
The men returned from shul that Friday night to find Batya and Shoshana in the midst of one of their habitual debates. Batya and her husband Benny had just begun a chavrusa with the new daf yomi cycle; about which Shoshanna found it difficult to mask her disapprobation.
Batya was sweeping in from the kitchen with a stack of plates to set the table. “First of all - first of all- it’s crazy fun, and extremely intellectually stimulating, and yes, I do connect to Hashem through my mind. Second of all, when was the last time you asked Avi whether or not he finds the gemarrah thing spiritually fulfilling? Third, since when do we measure the significance of a mitzvah by its spiritual fulfillment? Do you feel spiritually fulfilled when you’re on your hands and knees scrubbing under the refrigerator two weeks before Pesach?”
“Actually,” Shoshana responded as she chopped vegetables in the kitchen, “I’ve always kind of connected to cleaning for Pesach; you know, because it’s getting rid of the chumetz shebieesa which is the yetzer hora. It’s like Yom Kippur really.”
“Yeah,” Batya retorted, gesticulating with a fish fork, “and for me, gemarrah is like, you know, Torah, which is all holy and stuff.”
Avi, who was lounging against the doorframe and watching the by-play amusedly, jumped in with “But what about ‘kol hamilamed bito torah kiilu milamdah tiflus?”
“These words of Talmud! They burn my ears!” muttered Spike as she wandered by with the challah board.
“Actually,” Motti interjected as he wandered by on his way to pick a sefer off a shelf, “ in context of the sugyah in Sotah, it’s takkeh not the best rayeh- “
“Ayn hachi nami, but if you look at the rishoynim…” here the boys faded off into the living room, already immersed in their own argument. Batya and Shoshana blinked and turned back to their discussion.
“Of course it’s Torah,” Shoshana admitted, “it’s just not so shayich for a women’s tafkid, you know? It’s mammesh another mindset-”
“Says the woman who’s never looked at a daf,” Batya grinned.
“The gedoylim have learned more than enough dafs to make that decision for us!” Shoshanna protested.
“Yeah and they know a woman’s mindset if anyone does,” Spike smirked, wandering out with the Kiddush cups.
“Have you girls finished setting the table yet?” Mrs. Friedman called from the kitchen. “All this yelling between rooms is really not making my headache any better. Are we ready to start?”
“Just about done Ma,” said Batya. “Should I get the boys?”
“Yes call them. Where’s the baby?”
“Upstairs sleeping. Benny went to go check on her when he came in; I’ll go up and get them.”
“Ok, you do that, Shoshana can call the boys from the living room.”
Shoshana entered the living room where Avi and Motti were now poring over a Rash in Masechet Sotah, three other huge sefarim lying open on the table. “We’re ready for Shalom Aleichem, Avi. Where’s Tatti?”
Avi glanced up and reoriented himself with the living room. “Um, still outside?”
“He ran into Reb Leibl on the corner, and they started talking gematriah. You know how they get,” said Motti, glancing up at Shoshanna as he finished the sentence with a shy smile. Shoshanna smiled back but her middos were too good to allow for eye rolling. Just as she was formulating a sentence in her head that was polite and acknowledged the humor of the situation without being bold enough to be perceived as too forward and also duly respectful of her father, she was saved from the mental gymnastics by her father himself blowing in the front door that moment.
“Esther!” he called out as he came in, “Reb leibl just told me the most wonderful gematriah from this week’s haftorah -”
“Yosef, we’re just ready for Sholom Aleichem. Come to the table.” his wife responded.
The slow movement of many people towards a table began as Batya and Benny were descending the stairs with baby Hadar.
“Benny, can I ask you a question?” Batya was saying. “Have you found my feeble female intelligence an obstacle to any hope of intellectual equality in our chavrusa experience?”
“Yes, dear,” Benny responded, wiping some spit-up off of hadar’s six month old chin.
“Truthfully,” in a more sober voice as he turned to face his wife, “not only in our chavrusa experience, but in the rest of our marriage as well. But don’t trouble your pretty little head about it.”
“Give me my baby,” Batya demanded.
Avi chimed in from the living room, not lifting his eyes from the sefer which he was bringing to the table with him, “Takeh, it’s not such a clear inyan. There are mamesh differences between men and women you know, it’s not just a spiritual thing, even science agrees.”
“It’s been medically proven and everything,” Spike contributed cheerfully. Motti grinned.
“And everything,” he added.
During this exchange, husband and wife Friedman were communicating via eye signals. Mrs. Friedman was saying “Nu? Table!” And Mr. Friedman responded, “I’m trying! Kids will be kids.”
At which point, he tentatively began a “Sho-lom- a-lei-chem- “ only to be interrupted by Batya
“- and if torah shebaal peh is off limits, why are you learning rashi? He brings gemarrahs all the time!”
“Batya, you know that’s not the same thing!” Shoshanna protested and Motti jumped in to agree.
“Rashi does bring gemarrahs, but it’s hardly the same style of learning as looking at a daf.”
“ Because, you know, it’s not one,” Spike expounded.
Mr. Friedman tried once again to begin shalom Aleichem, but didn’t get past the first syllable before Batya burst out with - “Style shmyle, you’re just figuring out what people are saying! It’s not like the difference of style make the learning that much harder -”
“Are you saying you learn daf the same way you learn Rashi?” Avi interrupted.
“No, I’m saying that women aren’t dumb. Why would you want to marry someone who you assumed was less intelligent than you are?”
“So maybe intelligence isn’t the most important quality in a wife?”
Batya went thin lipped and mimed stabbing Avi with a spoon.
“Of course intelligence is important,” Shoshanna remarked, “but middos are at least as important.”
Here Mr. Friedman, who was hungry, belted out his last effort at shalom Aleichem in a tone that would brook no resistance, and Avi and Motti fell in line. Discussion ceased until after washing, except for a remark from Spike on the way to the sink (“I know I look for both intelligence and middos in all of my women,”) which was silenced by a poke in the back from her mother.

A preview. Let me know what you think.


Post a Comment

<< Home