Here are the first 35 parts of the Weekly Newsletter’s “To be Continued” story . If you don’t get the Weekly Newsletter, make sure to sign up today! Looking forward to seeing more of the story! Send your continuations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part I by Meira Goldberg
Although she definitely liked surprises, Rina never liked the suspense felt when she knew something was coming and didn’t know what. She walked up and down the hall, her wavy, brown hair swishing over her shoulders as she paced. She could hear the even tones of the two women’s voices from behind the heavy, wooden door. They were going to make a decision that would have a major impact on her life. In truth, she didn’t know which option she preferred; they were both equally appealing and had just about equal downsides.
Rina continued to pace. Even if she had a preference, it wouldn’t have been taken into consideration. The matter was out of her hands. The two women behind the door were making the decision and the wait seemed interminable. Suddenly, the chatter slowed down, and Rina heard some whispers as she watched the doorknob begin to turn.
Part II by Rebecca Geldwerth, age 12 from MD.
The two women walked out. One was a younger woman with long dark hair and a bright and cheery smile. The other was older with grey hair and a stern expression. She was the headmistress of the orphanage Rina had lived in as long as she could remember.
Mrs. Klein, the headmistress of the orphanage, looked at her. “Rina,” she said to me. ” I want you to meet Mrs. Katz. As you know, I wanted to send you to a boarding school in New York. However, Mrs. Katz wanted to speak to me first. She would like to adopt you. And I have agreed.”
Before she knew it, Rina was in Mrs. Katz’s car and off to my new home. They didn’t talk much and Rina waited.
“Here we are,” Mrs. Katz smiled. Rina looked up at the house.
Part III by Yehudis Hecht, age 13, from NY.
The house looked okay to her. It was a smallish one, two stories tall and a stout little mailbox in the front of the walkway. Mrs. Katz opened the car door with a cheerful, “Welcome home!” Rina took a deep breath. She was excited despite herself.
“You can look around. I’m coming in a minute.” She walked up the path and inside.
The interior looked like what one would expect after seeing the outside. She was standing in a cozy family room, with one couch and two stiff-looking armchairs. A boy of about 8 was sitting on one of them watching something on the video machine on one of the bookshelves, which were mostly filled with sefarim and novels. He looked up at her, then back at ‘his’ screen. A cute old-fashioned coffee table was squarely placed in the middle of the room. Rina smiled.
She continued on.The kitchen was wide and homey looking. There was a door, presumably to the basement, with laughter and childish voices wafting out like a smell. Rina was filled with an exhilaration the spread up her chest. She had a home to call her own! She was about to enter the dining room when Mrs. Katz entered with the garbage bag where Rina had tossed her clothes.
“Ready to see your new room and unpack?” she called out playfully. Rina nodded. She followed her up the stairs. They stopped in a short hallway, with two or three doors on each side. At the end was a bathroom. Mrs. Katz knocked on the second one on the left side.
Part IV by Sarah Graff, age 14, from MD
“Can I come in? called Mrs. Katz. “I’ve brought Rina.”
There was a mumbled response that Rina barely caught and Mrs. Katz opened the door.
A teenage girl, a bit older than Rina, lay on one of the two beds in a cheery bedroom. The walls were painted in pale pink that could use another coat, and the curtains on the window were a pale yellow. The bed linens were yellow with pink comforters and pillow cases. There were two dressers, one, a dark wood, the other, a chipped white. There was a nightstand, painted pink with yellow hearts, and a tall and skinny bookshelf overflowing with books. All the furniture seemed rather cramped together with little space. Rina guessed that the room had been redone for her arrival.
The girl stood up and studied Rina. Rina did the same. The girl had long dark hair in a French braid. Her mouth and the shape of her face closely resembled that of Mrs. Katz. But the expression on her face, and her deep blue eyes were all her own.
“This is Eliana,” said Mrs. Katz, “My daughter.” She smiled widely, clearly pleased that she had two girls so close in age. She clearly hoped they would become good friends.
Eliana, on the other hand, didn’t look so happy.
Part V by Tamar Lilienthal, age 12, from FL
Rina began to bring her belongings into the room, clearly struggling to carry them. But not once did Eliana offer to help. She simply sat on her bed and stared. Like the painting of Mona Lisa, her eyes followed Rina wherever she went.
“Where should I put my clothes?” Rina asked.
“In the white dresser,” Eliana muttered, looking at the floor.
The sun was setting as Rina finished unpacking all of her things. She suddenly heard Mrs. Katz shout, “Rina and Eliana! Time for dinner!”
Both girls walked downstairs. Rina saw three children sitting at the table.
“Rina,” Mrs. Katz said. “Come sit down. Meet my three other children; Chaim, Shaindy, and Yosef.”
Chaim had dark brown hair, just like Eliana’s. He was eight years old. Rina had already met him when she had first entered the house. Shaindy was young, about six years old, with chubby cheeks, a sweet smile, and short and curly auburn hair that puffed up in every direction. Yosef was twelve, just a year younger than Rina and Eliana. He had auburn hair as well.
Eliana sat down, without saying a word. Her eyes looked as dull as a canvas with no paint on it. Mrs. Katz got up and brought out soup.
Rina looked at her bowl.
Part VI by Mussia Kaplan, age 15 from PA
Rena looked up and picked up her spoon. She began to eat her chicken soup, which was delicious. At that moment Mrs. Katz looked up and smiled. “Rena, I want to officially welcome you to the family. Now that you are a part of this family I want to let you know that if you ever need something just ask me or one of my kids.
“I signed you up for the same school as my daughter Eliana goes to. You will be in the sixth grade at Bais Leah. Tomorrow my daughter Eliana will take you there.” Mrs. Katz said.
Rena was very nervous for this would be her first day in a real school. She quickly finished her supper and then wished Mrs. Katz a good night. She went upstairs, said Shema, and fell asleep.
The next day Rena pulled on the uniform Eliana gave her and then rushed downstairs to eat breakfast. She quickly finished breakfast and grabbed her new schoolbag and lunch from the counter.
She was about to go outside but Mrs. Katz stopped her. “Have a good day Rena and let me tell you the girls aren’t used to having a new girl join in the middle of the year and might get curious. You can tell them or you don’t have to. I’ll let that be your choice as neither Eliana nor I will tell them. I hope you have a good day and I’ll see you later.”
Eliana was quiet on the walk to school. As they neared the school, however, Eliana told Rena where to find her classroom and said she would pick Rena up from there at the end of the day. As they walked up to the big brick building, Rena took a deep breath. Eliana pushed open the metal front door.
Part VII by Aleeza Schoenberg
Rena stepped into the building. She was excited for her first day, but at the same time, she was a little nervous. What if the other girls made fun of her or thought she was weird? But Rena couldn’t worry about that yet, she still needed to find her class before the bell rang.
Rena looked up and down the crowded hallway. There were girls chatting away with the friends, and other girls catching up on homework. After what felt like forever, she finally reached the end of the long hallway. “This is it,” she said to herself, “room 6b”.
“Um… I’m Rena!” she said with a forced smile. All the girls looked up from what they were doing.
From the back corner of the room, a short girl, covered in freckles, who was clutching a pen and notebook looked up too. “Rena?!” she said.
“Tova?” Rena exclaimed. “Is that really you?”
Part VIII by Devora Hodakav, age 12 from CT.
“You bet it’s me!” Tova said smiling, revealing her dimples. Rina couldn’t believe it. Was that the Tova that she had spent so many memorable times with in the orphanage? Rina went closer to Tova, “You gotta tell me what happened,” Rina whispered in her ear. Tova got up and walked out of the classroom towards the lockers, Rina followed.
“Well,” Tova began, “ Remember when my grandmother came to pick me up from the orphanage when we were about seven?” Rina nodded. “Anyways, my grandmother didn’t want to draw attention to me so she moved to a new place. Whenever I asked for the orphanage’s address to send letters to you, my grandmother would always tell me to forget about the past and make friend in my new class.” Tova paused, letting Rina digest the story. “So, how did you get here?” Tova asked Rina.
“Well, the headmistress really wanted me to go to a boarding school in NY, and then this lady Mrs. Katz came and said that she wanted to adopt me.” Just then the bell rang. Rina and Tova ran towards their classroom, hoping not to be late. The morning classed passed really slowly for Rina. The teacher had assigned her a front seat and she kept looking back to smile at Tova.
The rest of the day passed by relativelyquickly, and at the end of the day Tova invited Rina over to her house. Rina happily accepted the invitation and didn’t even bother telling Eliana to tell Mrs. Katz, thinking that Mrs. Katz would be delighted that she found a new friend so fast.
After a delicious snack, the girls headed upstairs to Tova’s purple bedroom. “It’s so purple!” Rina said laughing.
“Thank you!” Tova said smiling.
While Rina updated Tova about the goings-on in the orphanage, Tova told Rina about the school and neighborhood. “Gosh!” Rina said as she looked at the clock, “It’s so late, I gotta run!”
Rina walked home in high spirits until she reached the door. Rina knocked, and immediately Mrs. Katz opened the door. But instead of a cheerful, smiling lady, there was a lady who was serious and angry. “And where were you?” Mrs. Katz asked, her lips pressed together and her hands on her hips.
“ I was at friend’s house. I’ll tell you the…” Rina was cut off.
“Go put down your stuff, I want to speak with you after dinner.”
Part IV by Leah Lazar
Rina’s heart started pounding, hard. She was very nervous.
“What could i have done?” she thought. “I’ve never seen Mrs. Katz so angry, and all i did was go to a friends house! Shouldnt she be happy that I made a new friend?!”
Rina quickly put down her stuff, and walked into the kitchen. It smelled delicious! Then she realized something. Everyone was staring at her. Eliana looked at her. Rina forced a smile, and went to sit down. She stared at her plate, playing with her fork. She couldnt stop thinking about what Mrs Katz would say to her. Was she in trouble?
Finally, Mrs. Katz came over to her. “Rina, I would like to speak to you.” She paused. “Privately.”
Rina looked down at her shoes. “I’m coming,” she mumbled. She followed Mrs. Katz to the living room, and they both sat down on the big, brown leather couch.
”Rina”, Mrs. Katz started. Her voice was sharp. “Where were you? I was so worried! Eliana told me that she saw you run out of the building with someone. You didnt tell me, Eliana, or anybody else where you were going! ” Why did you do that?” Mrs. Katz looked hurt. Rina felt her face turn red. “I was, um, at a friends house.”
“Oh, really? Which friend?” Mrs Katz questioned. “Tova. Tova Goldberg.”, Rina answered.
“Tova Goldberg? Hmm. Now why does that name sound so familiar? Mrs. Katz asked. “Wait a minute, this friend of yours, Tova, is.. is she an..orphan?”“Yes!” Rina answered, surprisingly. “How do you know?”
Mrs. Katz looked shocked. “I cant believe it! Tova Goldberg is here, in NY, in Rinas class.”
“Yes, but, Mrs. Katz, how do you know Tova?”
Part X by Talya Miller
Rina looked at Mrs. Katz curiously, until Mrs. Katz couldn’t take it anymore and finally began to speak.
“My sister Bayla had twelve children. About ten years ago her husband joined the army and he was stationed in Afghanistan. Bayla tried to get a job and support her family, but she didn’t go to college, so she had a difficult time finding a job. Her four oldest girls, Shira, Yocheved, Elisheva, and Gila, started a daycare in the afternoon in secret. When she found out, she took out a loan and helped them create a real daycare. They got by for four years with that daycare.”
Mrs. Katz looked at Rina who was sitting on the edge of her seat. Rina smiled and sat up straight. When Mrs Katz didn’t start the story, she whispered meakly, “Sorry.”
Mrs. Katz nodded and began once again, “But Bayla’s older girls were reaching 12th grade. And Bayla knew they wanted to go to Israel for seminary. So Bayla closed the daycare and gave the girls more time to focus on their studies. All of the four girls got straight A’s; one even was on the honor role, and they got scholarships to schools in Israel. But when the time came for them to board the plane only three of them waved good bye and left. Gila chose to stay and reopen the day-care. Gila’s day-care kept Bayla’s family going for another year, but soon even Gila admitted that she needed to start her own family. So the daycare was closed once again. By then Gila’s other eight children were hungry and in desperate need for clothes, education and many other basic things.” Mrs. Katz stopped once again and looked at the clock. “I’m sorry Rina. It’s getting late and I’m sure you have homework. I’ll continue the story tomorrow.”
Rina nodded and stood up, “I’ll be home right after school,” and she walked down the hall into the room she shared with Eliana.
Part XI by Bina Freeman
What is it with clocks in school? When you don’t want to go home, whether it’s because you just failed your test or it’s your turn to watch the baby all afternoon, the day goes by in two ticks. But when you’re doing something fun after school, the clocks practically go backwards. Though Rina enjoyed the day at school with Tova, she couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the story from Mrs. Katz. Later, she wondered why she didn’t just ask Tova. She doesn’t know why. But lucky she didn’t.
As soon as the bell rang, Rina jumped out of her seat and bolted out of the building. She raced through her homework and ran downstairs to find Mrs. Katz. She was on the phone. Stopping to tie her shoelaces, Rina overheard snatches of the conversation. She felt guilty, but after all, they were talking about her (and other people). “Rina…Goldberg…Bayla” Mrs. Katz broke off sobbing. Rina, now more curious than ever to hear the rest of the story, returned to her room so as not to be guily anymore of the terribly sin of eavesdropping.
Five minutes later, she hesitantly walked downstairs. Mrs. Katz, though her eyes were suspiciously red, wasn’t on the phone anymore. She smiled at Rina, motioned for her to sit down, and resumed her story.
Part XII by Bina Freeman
“Baila tried whatever she could to find a job, but no one wanted her, like I said before. She briefly thought of reopenign the day care, but realized it won’t be practical for her to do it on her own. So her childern were lacking many basic things. One day, while Bayla was sitting in her cramped apartment, there was a terse knock at the door. Full of foreboding, Bayla opened the door and her husband, in his military uniform, stood outside, shaking and pale faced. From piecing his one word sentences together, she realized that her sister-in-law, her husband’s only sibling, along with her husband, were killed in a car crash. Their one year old baby survived, barely. Within hours, the entire family, somehow, caught a plane to America. They attended the levaya. Since the baby only had one grandmother stil alive, and she was in no condition to take in a baby, it was decided that Bayla would take in Tova.”
Pretending not to hear the gasp of shock as Rina realized where Tova came into the story, Mrs. Katz continued.
Part XIII by Meira Goldberg
“This is where the story gets kind of sticky,” continued Mrs. Katz. “Although Baila’s husband haed home from the army and had a job that was starting to bring in some income for the family, the family was still struggling to make ends meet. One day, they received a call regarding the adoption papers they had sent in so that they could legally adopt Tova. Their application had been denied because it was decided that the family did not have the means to take care of another child. They tried to collect enough money so that they could make investments, improve their financial state and adopt Tova, but they were informed that Tova had to be sent away. Tova’s grandmother, who heard about the family’s trouble’s, made the executive decision to send Tova to an orphanage. There was nothing Baila could do to stop her.”
Part XIV by Hannah Levitan, age 12 from IL
“A few months after Tova was at an orphanage, Baila found a job teaching at a Bais Yaacov Elementary school. She got enough money to be able to care for Tova but once she had located the Simon Orphanage for Jewish Girls…” Rina gasped again even though she knew what had to be coming. That was the orphanage that she had been adopted from just a few days before.
“They heard that Tova had already been adopted. She was now living at a place that was very good for her but Baila was still devastated. All that work for nothing? Baila was determined to find Tova to let her know that she was there for her.”
“But I found her!” Rina broke in excitedly.
“That’s precisely the problem,” Mrs. Katz sighed.
Part XV by Meira Goldberg
“The problem is that a family adopted Tova and the orphanage wouldn’t tell Baila where she was. They said it was a breach of privacy or something. When you told me you found Tova, I contacted Baila right away. But now a new problem has come up. How can they convince the family to give Tova back to them? Would it even be right to ask the family, as Tova is so settled here and loves it here. But I shouldn’t be sharing all this with you. It’ll all work out with G-d’s help.” Mrs. Katz gave Rina’s shoulders a tight squeeze.
Just then Elianna walked by. Why was her mother spending so much time with RIna? Ever since they found out they were adopting Rina it was “Rina, Rina, Rina” all day. When she finally arrived, they hadn’t spent any time together. How was she supposed to adjust to having a new sister?
Part XVI by Hadassah Sanker, age 12, from PA
When Rena entered the room, she saw Eliana sprawled across herbed.”Um.. Eliana?” Rena asked tentatively, “You’ve been acting quite standoffish lately. I’ve always wanted a sister. So tonight… maybe we should talk or something.”
Eliana stood up and looked at Rena.
“My friends Maya and Rosie are coming over tommorow. I would love it if you stayed out of our way.” Eliana’s voice was so cool and brusque that Rena couldn’t reply. Her “sister” just walked out of the room and downstairs.
“How could she?” Rena thought. “She’s like my sister. I was going to tell her everything that Mrs. Katz had just told me. But no, that wasn’t good enough.” Eliana had hurt her feelings so badly, it burned like a searing flame of fire. Going deeper and deeper and deeper….
The next thing Rena knew she was being shaken awake by Eliana.
“Come on Rena,” Eliana said impatiently. “You already made me miss the bus.”
“Well that’s great,” Rena mused silently. Another reason for her to be angry at me. Rena couldn’t hide the smile snaking across her face.
“What’s so funny?” Eliana asked suspiciously.
“Nothing,” Rena said happily.
Before she knew it, Rena slid into her seat at school. Tova gave her a slight smile, but looked slightly troubled about something. There was no way for Rena to confront her about it till recess.
“Rena,” Tova said sadly. Her hazel eyes were cast downwards in sadness. “Someone called my Aunt Bayla and told her were I was. Wait… Whoa. Let’s start at the beginning.” Tova seemed aghast when Rena told her that she already knew the story.
“How?” Tova asked.
“It’s a long story,” Rena replied.
“Right. So anyway, Aunt Bayla doesn’t have enough money to raise me. I don’t want to live in poverty! I want to live in a big house with my Grandmother!” With every sentence Tova’s voice raised higher and higher until she was sobbing. Suddenly the bell rang and it was time to go home.
“Rena!” An impatient voice called. “Me, Rosie, and Maya are waiting! Come on!”
Both Tova and Rena looked around to see Eliana waiting in annoyance. Next to her were two girls, one with long, honey colored hair and brown eyes, The other girl was slightly taller with short auburn hair and green eyes with glasses. Eliana’s long, black french braid and blue eyes clearly shown annoyance.
“Go,” Tova whispered to Rena. “I’ll be okay. It’s you I’m worried about.” As Rena and Tova giggled, for a second, a small second, they were six year old in the orphanage, giggling happily.
Maya and Rosie were both funny and kind, even to Rena. Whenever she would try to talk to them, though, Eliana would give her a look that meant, please, don’t take away my friends. (To Rena it looked like, get away, you’re not wanted.)
The second Rena got home, she knew something was wrong. Mrs. Katz was rubbing her hands and sobbing quietly.
“Mother, is everything alright?” Eliana said worriedly.
“Yes Eliana, Baruch Hashem. I must speak to Rena. Alone.” Mrs. Katz answered the unspoken question.
Once everyone was gone. Mrs. Katz started to speak.
Part XVII by Meira Goldberg
“Oh Rena! This is terrible!” “What happened?” “We thought Tova would be thrilled when Baila called and said she wanted Tova to come live with her. But Tova said she wants to stay where she is!” “But I thought Tova was living with her grandmother. So why is there a problem?” “Tova said that she’s living with her grandmother? How can that be? Her grandmother doesn’t even live in this state! Incidentally, I found out that it wasn’t her grandmother who sent Rena to the orphanage. Apparently someone outside of the family called Social Services. It’s a long story. But back to what we were saying, Tova really said she’s living with her grandmother?” “She wouldn’t lie! I’m telling you, I feel as close to her as a sister. She wouldn’t lie.”"So maybe she really thinks the people she lives with are her grandparents. And maybe she doesn’t really remember her aunt and uncle.” Mrs. Katz pondered.
Part XVIII By Hinda Chesler, age 14, from PA
Rina burst into tears. She really didn’t want to believe that, but at the moment what Mrs. Katz told her was the only explanation. “Perhaps it goes deeper than that,” Rina suggested tearfully. “It has to.” Mrs. Katz wiped Rina’s eyes with her handkerchief. “Don’t worry, Rina. I’ll work hard to get this straightened out. In the meantime, maybe Tova can come over to our house for a meal, and you two can talk. I think there’s something further in this and only Tova really knows it. And if you-” Rina interrupted. “I don’t want to pull information from Tova with trickery,” she sobbed sadly, covering her face with her hands, muffling her voice. “I’ll tell her the truth like she does with me, and I’ll figure it out. Please.” Mrs. Katz didn’t have the time to reply because Eliana plodded over to them with annoyance at seeing Rina with her mother and said, “Mother, there’s a girl at the door that calls herself Tova.”
Part XIX By Judith Rosenbluth
“Thank you Eliana”, Mrs. Katz said.Rina rushed to the door to greet Tova. Tova burst into tears as Rina told her that she knew what was happening.
“I’m so sorry that I didn’t tell you before.” Tova exclaimed. ”I thought that if you knew that I had been lying to you before, you wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
“Tova,” Rina replied,” I will always want to be friends with you, but you have to tell me. What is going on?”
Mrs. Katz suggested that they take the discussion upstairs. As they walked up the stairs, they heard a soft muffled sound of someone crying. “Eliana?” Rena whispered. “Leave me alone!” cried Eliana. “What’s wrong? What happened?” Rena asked. “You couldn’t possibly understand. Nobody does!” Eliana shouted. Eliana quietly handed Rena a letter that she had just gotten.
Part XX by Hinda Chesler, age 14, from PA
Rena silently read the four-line letter. It also had several graphics that showed Rina’s old orphanage. Rina turned pale and her jaw dropped. ”W-what…….” she stammered. Eliana stifled another sob.
“I understand,” Rina murmured, forgetting that Tova was leaning over her shoulder. “Eliana, please. You’re in something deeply, and it involves me, doesn’t it?” The look on Eliana’s face as she turned affirmed Rena’s statement. “That’s why you didn’t want me here, right? Sharing your room, going to your school and all of it against your wishes. I wish I didn’t feel like a burden, Elaina, but this is my new home. I don’t want to go back to that place.” Rina’s voice started breaking, and her eyes turned red. “Please tell me the story,” Rina said, searching Eliana’s face to figure out if she was being too forceful.
Eliana sighed and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Okay, but not with her here,” Eliana said rudely, motioning Tova to leave the room.
Tova, however, wouldn’t hear of it. “I have a feeling that this closely involves me, too,” she persisted.
Eliana sighed and shuddered. She didn’t want to tell the story, but Tova was right. “Okay,” Eliana surrendered, “It’s like this.”
Part XXI by Tamar Lilienthal, age 12, from FL
“You know how my mother’s sister, Bayla, had Tova taken away from her. Bayla is my aunt as well, and I was taken away from my mother, too. Both my mother and Baila were suffering of poverty. The economy was tough, and they were really struggling to make ends meet. Then, one day, someone called Social Services. We’re still not sure who it was. But I was taken away from Mrs. Katz, and Tova was taken away from Bayla. We arrived at the orphanage on the same day.”
At that point, Rena and Tova realized that there was more to the story than they had imagined. They sat down on Rena’s bed. Eliana continued, “Tova easily adjusted and immediately made new friends, especially you. I, on the other hand, was not so lucky. I had a very hard time getting used to the orphanage. Rena, do you remember a girl named Samantha from the orphanage?”
“I do,” Rena replied. “We didn’t get along. Tova and I were constantly in fights with her. Almost every day, at dinner time, Samantha had to be separated from us.” Tova nodded her head in agreement.
Eliana took a deep breath. “That Samantha… that was me.”
Rena and Tova gasped. How could that be?
“We were not religious at the time when I went to the orphanage. I went by the name Samantha. But then, after a few years, my mother started making more money. She was able to make a home, she had three other children, and she lived a stable life. She also became more religious. My mother decided she was going to get me back from the orphanage. And she did. From then on, I went by Eliana, my Hebrew name.”
“So what’s the letter all about?” Tova whispered.
“I found it on the table.” Eliana answered. “It seems that my mother did not fill out all the papers needed to adopt Rena and me. Now, the orphanage wants both of us back.”
Part XXII by Talya Miller, age 12, from MD
“WHAT??” Rina sat down hard onto a nearby armchair.
“What do you mean Eliana?” asked Tova trying to stay calm. ” They can’t do that can they? Can they really just send someone a letter saying give us back your daughters?”
Eliana raised the letter, “They just did.”
“But you’ve been here for what…four years?”
“Five,” Eliana said, “and they’ve been the best five years of my life, but….” Eliana shuddered, “I don’t wanna go back there.”
“And we’re not going to!” Rina stood up, “there must be something we can do!”
The door to the living room was pushed open and three heads whirled around. Mrs. Katz was standing there, wiping her eyes.
“Ma!” Eliana cried, pushing the letter under Rina’s armchair.
“I heard you girls talking,” Mrs. Katz said slowly. “I think I know what we can do.” The girls leaned closer as Mrs. Katz outlined her plan.
Part XXIII by Hannah Levitan, age 12
”Okay, we all need to finish the adoption forms by tomorrow. The orphanage gave me three more days with you girls, so that’s how long we have. Tova, I’ll call your mother now to see if you can sleep over, and help us more, if that’s okay
with you,” Mrs. Katz began.”Oh, I’d love to!” Tova exclaimed. “Anything to help Rena and Eliana stay!”"Be’ezrat Hashem, everything will be okay,” Mrs Katz whispered as she scurried out of the room to place the call.
While Mrs. Katz was out of the room the girls talked.”I’m sorry Rena,” Eliana started sobbing. “I’ve been so mean to you. But I was so afraid to meet you again, since I was so rude to you at the Orphanage…”"Oh, Eliana,” Rena said, then the two girls embraced. “At least if this doesn’t work out, we’ll be together at the Orphanage, without being mean to each other,” Elianna laughed through her tears.
Then Rena started laughing. Just then Mrs. Katz walked in with a grim expression on her face.
Part XXIV by Shaindel Turiansky, age 9 from MD
Eliana recognized her mother’s expression right away. She knew something was wrong. She immediately stopped laughing and asked her worriedly, “What’s the matter?”
”The orphanage didn’t like that I wanted to keep you,” she started, “They want you to be there for some reason. Instead of in three days they want me to bring you now.” The room was quiet except for Mrs. Katz’s sniffling. Suddenlyshe burst into tears. Rena tried to comfort her.
Suddenly,Tova popped in. “I have an idea but it might not work.”
Part XXV by Tehila Leverton and Mushka Rothman
“Let’s call the orphanage and tell them that you just left on a trip to Hawaii and won’t be back for 3 weeks”, said Tova.
“It’s worth a try”, Mrs.Katz agreed, wiping her tears.
“But what should we do during those 3 weeks?, asked Rena.
“Well, I didn’t think about that yet. Let’s try calling the orphanage first.We can decide what to do afterwards”, replied Tova thoughfully.
“I guess I’m going to have to call the orphanage,” Mrs.Katz sighed.”Eliana, please pass me the phone.” Eliana passed the phone to Mrs.Katz.
Rena, Eliana, and Tova waited with baited breath as Mrs.Katz called the orphanage. A few minutes later, Mrs.Katz hung up with a grim expression on her face.
“They believed me that you are going to Hawaii. Well, not exactly, because for some reason they asked me to show them your tickets.”
Eliana burst into tears. “But what should we do? I don’t want to go back to that horrid place! I am not a orphan! “
Part XXVI by Mushkie Lewish, age 12, from NY
Just then there was a knock on the door. Rina ran to open it. Standing by the door was Devorah, who was in Tova, Rina, and Eliana’s class.
“Hi Eliana,” she said shyly. “I came to return your math notebook, your brother told me you were in your room, so I came up and I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I think I know what to do.”
“You do?” Everyone gasped.
“What do you mean?” Mrs. Katz asked.
“Well, my aunt, Mrs. Klein, works…”
“Mrs. Klein is your aunt?!” Rina was definitely surprised.
“Should I try speaking to her?” Devorah asked.
“Of course!” Mrs. Katz replied. Just then the phone rang.
“Hello?… Oh, I should come now… You will come here?…About a half hour? See you.” She hung up the phone. “That was mrs. Klein. She said she’s coming to our house soon to see the plane tickets,” Mrs. Katz informed them grimly.
“Oh no!” everyone gasped.
Then, the doorbell rang.
Part XXVII by Rivky Greenberg
“I’d like to see your ti- Devorah? What are you doing here?” It was Mrs. Klein at the door. Devorah looked down at the floor. Everyone was quiet.
“Well? If none of you are prepared to explain as to why my niece is at your home just when I show up, then please just show me your, uh, ticket to Hawaii… Ehem.” Devorah finally came to the rescue.
“Tante Dini, I just came to hang out with Rena,” she said with as much confidence as she could muster. Mrs. Klein just stared with her small shrewd black eyes.
Everyone was at a loss of what to say. Suddenly, everyone jumped from their stance at the sound of a ring…
Part XXVIII by Tehila Leverton
Confused, Eliana hurried to the front door, and opened it. There stood a young man, and he looked extremely annoyed.
“I wait and wait for you in taxi”, he said angrily pointing to the cab waiting outside. “And you no come. I come to take you to airport. I wait 2 minute!”
Slamming the door behind him, the taxi driver stormed down the steps, and into the waiting cab.
Mrs. Katz took advantage of the taxi drivers mistake, and turning to Mrs. Klein, she said,”I’m so very sorry, but as you can see, we have to go. I didn’t notice the time, and we will miss our flight if we waste time showing you are tickets, or things like that! You saw that the taxi driver is here to take us to the airport! Can’t you believe us, or do you think we are lying!”
Mrs.Klein looked at Mrs. Katz, and then at the girls. She looked as though she were deciding what to say.
“Well, “, she finally said, glancing at the clock.”I …well, … oh, whatever. It doesn’t matter.”
‘You can tell us,”said Rena. “What, are you going to tell us that you think we are big, huge,cheaters, and we lied to you? Or that you robbed a bank, or did a murder, and you… I don’t know! What can be so bad already!”
“It’s worse than that”, Mrs.Klein sighed. “Much worse.”
Part XXIX by Meira Goldberg
Mrs. Klein took a deep breath and began to tell her tale.
“Many years ago, when the orphanage had become an established and well respected home for frum orphans, a board of directors was created to ensure that the orphanage continued running smoothly and that the children would never be abandoned.
“As director of the orphanage, I was pleased that the orphanage had become the wonderful, loving place it became, and was looking forward to continuing to be a safe haven for homeless children before we would be ultimately able to bring them to new homes and families.
So I hired an assistant. She helped in the office, researched families in which to place children and she cared for the children like her own. However, the board of directors was concerned. My assistant came without references and little was known about her background. I thought I knew better and kept her on as an assistant for 14 years.
A few months ago, we were looking through our accounts and noticed that money had been consistenly transfered from our account to various other unknown accounts. When we looked through our records, we noticed that certain vital papers, including the papers recording the adoption of some of our orphans” Mrs. Klein nodded at the Rina and Elianna.
“Mrs. Klein, don’t worry about it! It’s alright. We’ll fill out the papers as soon as possible,” Mrs. Katz tried to reassure her.
Mrs. Klein shook her head. “You don’t understand. My assistant has been stealing from us and she has stolen some papers vital for the continuation of our orphanage. If we don’t rectify everything this week, certain authorities may find out and close the home!”
Part XXX by Tehila Leverton
“Well, um, Mrs. Klein, if there is anything we can do to help you, then… we can try to help you in our free time’, said Rena, glancing at Eliana and Tova for approval.
Mrs. Klein looked surprised. “I thought you were going to Hawaii. I needed you to show me the tickets so I would have proof that you weren’t just trying to get out of filling the papers out right away. It was just a precaution, in case the authorities would find out what happened while you were gone!”Mrs. Katz smiled. “No. no. We didn’t know what to do because of the adoption forms… you know. So Tova came up with this idea, to tell you that we are going away. The taxi driver made a mistake, and I took advantage of it, because I was scared of what you would do.”
Part XXXI by Meira Goldberg
“I understand completely,” Mrs. Klein admitted. “Sometimes, under pressure, I come off sounding a lot harsher than I mean to. And right now, I am most definitely under pressure. If I don’t locate or recreate all the missing papers, the orphanage is doomed.”
“It’s not doomed. Hashem watches over you. He knows how much you care about all the children in the orphanage and He won’t abandon you, or them.” Rena declared.
“Thank you, Rena, for that reassurance. The problem is that at this point, it looks like there’s nothing left for me to do. I have no idea where my assistant went, and I don’t have nearly enough time to fill out all the necessary paperwork before the authorities find out that certain papers have gone missing.” Mrs. Klein wrung her hands in despair.
“How would they know that you’re missing the papers? Why would they even think to look?” Mrs. Katz asked, puzzled.
“Well, you see, we have an orphanage inspection coming up this week, and they will definitely check for all the necessary papers.”
“Mrs. Klein,” Elianna began, hesitating. “I think I have an idea!”
Part XXXII By Meira Goldberg
“Elianna,” Mrs. Katz began, hesitant. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Probably. Great minds think alike!” Elianna tried to diffuse the tension by laughing.
“Mrs. Klein, as you know, we have some experience with the adoption authorities.” She looked lovingly at Rina. “I recall that each time we had to fill out numerous papers and copies were filed in different social services offices.”
“But I can’t walk in there and ask them for copies! I can’t admit that we lost all our papers.”
“It’s not your fault, Aunt Michali,” Devorah began.
“Why would they listen to me? I’ll sound incompetant!”
“Well, Mrs. Klein, you just happen to be in luck. I have a nephew, my eldest brother’s son, is very involved in social services. I’m sure he can explain to them what happened. He was such a help when we adopted,” Mrs. Katz concluded triumpahntly. “Let’s call him up right away!”
Part XXXIII by Chaya Andrusier, age 11 from NY
The room slowly began to turn dark, and all three standing there realized with a start that they were talking for over an hour already. At that momen, the taxi driver stormed up to the door, and yelled, “You come, or I leave! I need go NOW!” Mrs. Katz quickly explained to him that there must have been some sort of mistake, and he quietly showed her the address he was supposed to go to. Labeled on the top was, “Mary Vesher” in red bold letters. Mrs. Klein took a quick glance at the paper, and her jaw dropped. She stood, speechless before murmering, “Mary Vesher was my old assistant! Oh my goodness!”
Rena and Tova jumped with a shock, and Mrs. Katz stood there, numbly looking on. Mrs Klein started to babble incoherently, “Oh my goodness, we have to get her address! Catch her and put her in jail! Oh, and get back the papers! I urgently need those papers! Oh gosh!” The taxi driver, Juan, stared at them, confused, as he talked in Spanish.
Then realizing they were Americans he said, ”Ooh, I so sorry. See, lady call me, she say her name Mah Ree,” Tova giggled despite her tears at the mis-pronunciation. “She want know, fast fast, plane to Hawaii! So I come to bring her, and she not here!” For a few seconds, the puzzle would not fit together. Then, suddenly, all the pieces came together.
“That’s it! We have got to catch Mary before she goes on her flight to Hawaii! Let’s go!” They all hopped into the car, driving above speed limit, as they left Juan staring puzzled at the door step. “American lady!” He mumbled angrily to himself.
In the car, Rena was shivering with excitement on this adventure. She would get to witness the crime scene up close! Tova huddled close to Eliana and Rena as she thoughtfully said, “Now that I think about it, I’m starved!” Bu there was absolutely no time for eating. She would just have to wait, and wait she did.
Part XXXIV by Mushkie Lewis, age 12, from NY
“When is this light gonna change?!” Rina thought to herself. “It’s been red for over 5 minutes already!”
just then, the light changed. Eliana looked out the back window and noticed Juan’s’ taxi driving behind
them. “Mom, hurry up!” she said. “Juan is right behind us!” “I know Eliana; I’m driving the fastest I can
“Phew! We made it!” Mrs. Klein announced as they headed for the airport security. “Yes?” a tall
imposing man stood before them. His nametag read: ‘Security, Tom F. Jones’.
“Excuse me Sir, but we need some help-”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Tom interrupted brusquely.
“Anyways,” Mrs. Katz resumed, “My friend over here has been robbed.” “Well, you’d better go to the
“No, Mr. Jones, you don’t understand, my assistant in the office where I work stole some important
“I told you, I’m not the police!”
“No, no! I found out that my assistant is coming to the airport soon to fly to Hawaii! In fact, there she is, right down there!”
Everyone craned their necks to see where Mrs. Klein was pointing.
Tom recognized the theif.“Very well,” Tom decided. “I’ll go get her.” Pretty soon he was back, leading Mary in handcuffs. “You know, I recognize Mary from some wanted signs down at the police station,” Tom said. “Where are the stolen documents?” he asked Mary.
“I don’t know,” Mary replied tearfully. “Really, please believe me!”
“So what happened to them?”
“The people I work for took them and gave the papers over to some friends of theirs. Really, please believe me! I’m innocent! I would never do anything wrong!”
“Very well then,” Tom decided. “But we’ll still need to keep you here in case you are lying.”
“Wait! I just remembered!” Mary called out. “I was in my boss’ office one day, and I noticed a paper on his desk that said: Stolen Goods, 516 Richmond Ave.”
“That’s around the corner!” Tom yelled out. “Let’s go get ‘em!”
Part XXXV by Chaya Mushkah Greenberg, age 12 from Shanghai, China
They ran out of the airport and into the small building at 516 Richmond Ave. As soon as they entered, the lady behind the front desk screamed, “Mary, what are you doing here? And who are all these people?”
Mary calmly responded, “I have decided not to hold it in any longer. Admit it! You were the one who stole the papers! I only kept quiet because you threatened me! And then I had to leave the office because everybody suspected me!” She reached down and started going through the papers on the desk. She found the papers.
We hope to end the story with Part 38. Please submit continuations that will help tie up the story. We still have some unanswered plotlines which need to be resolved, including the saving of the orphanage and Tova’s mysterious adoption. What happens next?
Email your continuation to email@example.com by noon Thursday, EST.