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  I Can Call You Ima

by Leah Fried

© Copyright 1993 by Leah Fried
English Translation: Sheindel Weinbach and A Rappaport
All rights reserved
For information write:
Moznaim Publishing Corporation

4304 12th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11219
Tel. (718) 438-7680, 853-0525


Printed in Israel

This book is dedicated to the memory of my beloved father and teacher
RYitzchok Klonymus Stein z"l

who raised and educated me with love,
whose whole being enveloped me with warmth.

He returned his pure soul to his Creator on the
2nd of Menachem Av 5753.




"I Can Call You Ima," written by Leah Fried in Hebrew, and
translated into English, carries a potent and vital message.

It will surely bring hope and encouragement to those who
find themselves in a similar situation.

David and Nechama remarry after having lost their first
partners in life, and remain with orphaned children.

With her deft pen, Leah Fried plants the seeds of this family
into a piece of dry earth that need constant loving care and
attention. David and Nechama battle the emotional storms of
the winter, and the dry heats of the summer doing their utmost
to keep the tiny seeds from being uprooted.

Their devoted efforts bring forth the first buds of harmony.
Finally, the soft-petalled flowers burst forth into full bloom
as their blossoming garden becomes a united family where
understanding and love prevail.


To the Reader

This book, presented to you with Hashem's help, although fiction,
is not purely a figment of my imagination. Its chapters of agony
and sorrow, of comfort and light, its moments of despondency and
pain  as well as its moments of healing and hope  are drawn
from real life.

One by one, these living stories found their way to my writing
desk, from people and families who themselves had passed
through this painful reality. Woven together, they created this
tapestry  "I Can Call You Ima."

I learned from them, that without the essential character traits of
patience, and faith in a better future  as portrayed by Nechama
and David  nothing of value can be achieved.

Patience saves one from grudges, from the anger and petty
grievances which can sabotage relationships and raise barriers
between human beings, blocking all efforts to weave a new life

Hope and faith enhance a person's spiritual power and give
one the strength of soul necessary to withstand difficult situations.
Hope and faith enable one to continue to build the positive
 even in a place where it appears to be an exercise in futility,
where for every brick laid, two others crumble away, and instead of
progress, there is only defeat.

Finally, the power of these traits, combined with clear,
unswerving faith in Divine guidance and our Creator's love
 which guides the heroes of the story like a protective
enveloping cloud  causes the light to gradually shine through,
the ice to melt, and Truth and Good to be revealed.

From patience and faith, entire worlds can be conceived and

May this book be like a prayer bursting forth from all our
hearts, pleading and beseeching before the Heavenly Throne that
Moshiach come speedily, that death be forever eradicated, and that
we know no more of sorrow.

I'd like to express my deep appreciation to all those who
shared their experiences with me and enabled me to so vividly
bring their stories to life  to all the Nechamas, Efrats and Gittys,
without whose willingness to help others, this book could not have
been written. This book was originally written and published in
Hebrew, with the encouragement of Gedolim.

The Author

Chapter One

Wilted Flowers

Shuli was the first to ask. But it wasn't too bad  then.
It happened during recess. Gitty was jumping rope and
Shuli stood watching.

When Gitty finished and ran to the end of the line,
Shuli called her over. "Hey, what's with Efrat? How come
she's not in school today?"

"I don't know/' Gitty shrugged. "I guess she didn't feel
good this morning." She raced off, barely making her turn.
Between jumps she glanced from side to side. Whew! Shuli's
gone. What a relief!
Gitty dreaded further questions....

Really, she hadn't even known that Efrat wasn't in school
today. When she left her room that morning, Efrat had still
been in bed, her face turned to the wall. Gitty didn't ask
any questions  she wouldn't get any answers anyway. She
pushed it out of her mind in the morning rush for school. J
guess, she had thought, Efrat will jump out of bed at the last minute
and make a mad dash to school

Ima hadn't asked about Efrat, either. Ima knew just as
much as she did....

But it's so embarrassing that Shuli asked!

What should she tell Shuli  that she and Efrat hardly
talk to each other? That she barely knows anything about her
older sister? That this sister can't stand her? Shuli wouldn't
believe it. Besides, you don't have to say everything that goes
on at home.... Everyone doesn't have to know.

She was just lucky that Shuli had let her off the hook so

But later, when Gitty was leaving, a bunch of eighth-grade
girls approached her  Efrat's friends. It was too late to

"How's Efrat?" they asked her.

''Why didn't she come today?"

For a second, Gitty just stood there, hoping with all her
heart that she wasn't blushing. "I...urn...I don't think she was
feeling well this morning," she finally whispered, squeezing
past them.

"Say hello for us," they called.

"Maybe I'll come over later," one of them added. "Hey, did
you hear me?"

Gitty turned her head.

"Tell Efrat that maybe I'll come over later, okay?"

"Okay!" Gitty blurted, and continued walking.

"I bet you don't even know who I am!" the girl called after

Gitty stopped short and tried to remember. "Wait a minute,
I, I guess I don't."

"Miriam Yankelevitz," she smiled. "Why did you say okay
if you didn't even know my name? Anyway, tell her that
Miriam Yankelevitz might come over."

Gitty gave an embarrassed smile. "Okay," she repeated,
and hurried off. Only when she was safely past them did she
breathe a sigh of relief and slow down.

It was hot. Summer was just beginning. Colorful
wildflowers blooming along the sidewalk caught Gitty's eye.
For a moment, the nagging thoughts about Efrat lost their
hold on her. She bent over the pretty flowers. She picked one,
and then another, until she had a colorful bouquet,

Just like when I was little, she smiled, remembering, looking at
the flowers in her hand. Won't this look nice in our room. I wonder
if Efrat will like these...."
Efrat again!

Like a black cloud, her thoughts came crashing down,
casting a shadow on the beautiful, sweet-smelling spring

Why does Efrat have to be like that! Why? Maybe today things will
be different Maybe today....

Gitty made up her mind not to pay attention to anything.
She'd just smile and smile the whole time. And when she
went into the room, she'd hand her the bunch of flowers
and ask, "Hey, Efrat! How are you?" She'd press the flowers
into her hand and say, "Aren't these pretty? I picked them
especially for you. Do you like flowers?" She had never asked
her that.

Actually, they had never even gotten around to talking
about flowers. How long had they been living together?
About...half a year? Had half a year actually gone by? How
time has flown since Ima married Efrat's fast. now it's
already half a year!

It seemed like just yesterday that Ima had said to her one
evening, "Don't worry so much, Gitty. Efrat doesn't really
hate you...or even me. It's just very hard for her to get
used to us...she wasn't really ready for this. Slowly, slowly,
she'll settle down...have patience. You'll see, she'll yet be the
wonderful older sister you dream about."

Half a year had passed, and Gitty, standing on the sidewalk
in front of her house, felt that she no longer had a drop
of patience left. Ima doesn't have to answer embarrassing
questions in school, she thought bitterly. It's hard to put on
an act all day and pretend that everything's all right...that
we're really sisters. It's too hard, way too hard, living in the
same room, day after day, hour after hour, with someone
who hardly talks to you, who only answers 'yes' or 'no'...who
at the most, just explodes in a tantrum over nothing!

Gitty didn't even know how she got home. Suddenly, there
she was, smelling the delicious aromas of lunch.

Five-year-old Sari ran towards her and hugged her tightly.
"What did you bring?" she asked Gitty.

"Nothing," Gitty answered and entered the house.

"So what's that?" the little girl persisted, pointing to the

"Oh, that." Gitty remembered the bouquet in her hand.
Now, the flowers looked somehow wilted. "Well," she
hesitated, "uh, I wanted to put them in water  do you want
them? Do you like flowers?" she asked Sari.

"Oh, I love them!" Sari chirped. "Gimme!"

Gitty put down her heavy books and gave her hand to Sari.
"Come on, let's find a vase for the flowers. We'll put them in
your room, okay?"

"Hello, Ima!" she greeted her mother as she entered the
kitchen. Ima was stirring a big pot of soup.

"Hi! What's new, Gitty?" Ima asked, turning her head
quickly to smile.

"Boruch Hashem, everything's fine. I'm looking for a vase for
these flowers."

"Very pretty! Did you say thank you to Gitty, Sari?"

"Uh-huh, and I'm going to pick flowers for her tomorrow!"
she said proudly.

Gitty found a vase on one of the shelves and filled it
with water. Then the two of them, big Gitty and little Sari,

marched off towards Sari's room and carefully placed the jar
in the center of the table.

"Isn't that nice?" Gitty said, sitting herself down on Sari's
bed. Sari climbed into her lap.

"Tell me a story," she begged.

"Not now, sweetie  I'm sooo tired," Gitty answered
gently, hugging her close. "Do you know that I haven't even
eaten yet? I'm starved! I'm too tired to tell any stories right
now." Gitty felt a rush of genuine love for her new little
sister, Sari. She could tell that the five-year-old girl felt it too
 she was always so cuddly.

Just then, Efrat walked in.

"Sari, did you take my pen from the desk?"

Gitty grew taut, her muscles tensed. No "Hello," no
"What's new." Nothing....

"I didn't take it," Sari defended herself. "I wasn't even in
your room."

"Your friends said hello," Gitty mentioned casually.

Efrat looked at her questioningly. "They asked you

"Yeah...why you didn't come today."

"So what did you answer?"

"That...I don't know. And I really don't know. What could I

"You should have made something up!" Efrat was furious.
"It sounds weird that you don't know. They'll think that I
didn't come because of the test."

"It really does look strange," Gitty said ironically. "But
what can I do? Next time, before I go to school, tell me what
to tell your friends. For your information, I didn't even know
that you weren't in school today!"

"Are you starting up with me again?" Efrat raised her

"That's called starting up?" Gitty retorted. "It was bad
enough standing there and not knowing what to say because
of you and now you're accusing me of starting up?! Anyway, I
think I told them that you were sick."

"Oh," Efrat relaxed, and turned to leave. Stopping by the
doorway, she called out to Sari. "Come with me a minute,
Sari. I want to show you something."

Sari quickly slid off Gitty's lap and ran towards her older

"What do you want to show me, Efrat?"

Gitty was left alone in Sari's room....

Was Efrat jealous of her because of Sari? The question
suddenly hit her. That's it for sure! Efrat took Sari away now on
She hadn't liked finding Sari cuddled in Gitty's arms.
But Gitty had no intention of stealing Sari away from Efrat

 she had Natti and Yossi. She just couldn't help loving little
Sari, and Sari loved her too. Can't one little girl have two big sisters
who love her?

Maybe...Efrat isn't jealous...maybe she just wants to hurt
Another infuriating episode in the infuriating relationship
between them!

What a shame! It's too bad that this is the way things are....

It's not at all what Gitty had imagined things would be like
when her mother had told her about Efrat and her father

 and the new family that would now be theirs. In her
innocence, she had thought that she and Efrat would be great
sisters, just like she and Gili could have been, if only....


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