In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 20, 2004 / 26 Teves, 5764

Winner Takes All — one for the books

By Libby Lazewnik

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

https://www.jewishworldreview.com | The whole thing started in the library, which is not surprising, seeing that I'm a voracious reader and stop in at least once a week to stock up on books.

My usual day is Friday, right after school. This time, I went on Thursday instead, as I'd finished last week's stack of books and didn't think I could survive a whole night with nothing to read.

As my best friend, Tzippy, was walking home with me, she came along.

"How many are you planning to take?" she asked, as the pile of books in my arms grew taller. "It'll take you a year to read all of that!"

"Only a week," I said calmly. I picked up another book and began reading the flap.

Tzippy is not a reader. In fact, she doesn't even own a library card. It suddenly occurred to me that here was a golden opportunity to get her interested. My eyes searched the shelves, looking for something to tempt her.

I plucked a book out, glanced at it briefly with a smile, then held it out to her. "This book is fantastic, Tzippy. I must've read it six times already. Why don't you try it?"

"Oh, you know me. I'm not into reading..." But her eyes strayed curiously to the cover.

The flap material was exciting enough, and I was persuasive enough, to make her relent at last. "All right, I'll give it a whirl," she laughed. "You'll have to borrow it for me on your card, though. I don't have one."

"Why not?" I asked, leading the way to the front desk with my books — five in all.

She shrugged. "Never got around to it, I guess." She waited while the librarian checked out our books. Before we left the building, I handed Tzippy hers. "Remember, this has to be returned by the due date. Otherwise, there's a penalty to pay."


She tucked the book into her backpack, and we started for home.

The weight of the books in my arm was pleasurable, as if I were carrying a sealed treasure-box. I couldn't wait to get home and open the box to inspect the goodies that lay inside...

We reached my house first. "Guess I'll come in for a while," Tzippy said. That's the kind of friends we were — no formal invitations necessary. I smiled at the idea, opened the door, and ushered her in. The living room was peaceful for a change. I soon realized the reason for this: My four younger brothers were out back, enjoying the lingering sunshine of this spring day to play ball.

"Mind if I dip into a book?" I asked Tzippy, sinking onto the couch. "Just for a minute. This one looks really good..."

She said it was okay with her. "In fact, I'll check out my book, too!" She went to the front door, where she'd dumped her backpack, and pulled out the book. She came back holding it gingerly, as though it might bite. Seating herself in the armchair, she began by reading the flap again. Then she studied the dedication and acknowledgments. Finally, she cautiously opened to the first page and began to read.

I watched her a moment, smiling to myself. When I saw her well and truly absorbed, I turned with a sigh of satisfaction to my own book.

For a time, peace reigned supreme.

I'd reached Chapter Three when the back door burst open and my brothers poured in. Instantly, our peace was shattered. The boys chased each other, scuffling and laughing, through the living room. With another kind of sigh, this time, I closed my book. Tzippy did the same.

"Come on, Tzip," I said. "Let's go to the kitchen and have a fruit or something." The mention of any other kind of snack, I knew, would have ensured us the pleasure of my brothers' eager company. I put my book down with the others, and Tzippy left hers on the arm of her chair. Hastily, we made for the relative quiet of the kitchen.

My mother was working late tonight, and dinner was simmering in a crock-pot on the counter. Tzippy and I peeled oranges, chatting as we ate. Then we went up to my room, where we chatted some more. The windows were becoming glazed with darkness when Tzippy, with a glance at the clock, announced that she had better get home.

We picked our way around the boys, who were now sprawled across the living-room floor, playing board games. The noise was less intense, but the mess of playing pieces and toy money and other game paraphernalia more than made up for it. At the front door, Tzippy retrieved her backpack, and we said good-bye.

As I made my way to the couch to retrieve my library books and school bag, one of my brothers asked when Ma was coming home, another asked when was dinner, and a third and fourth began squabbling over whose turn it was. Clutching my things, escaped up the stairs to my room.

In a moment, I was lost in my book again. Some time later, a boyish clamor from downstairs told me that Ma was back. I hurried to set the table for supper.

Daddy came home from work the next day with something Unusual — a flyer from a little bookstore, downtown, announcing that it was closing up shop after forty years in business, and that anyone who wanted to was welcome to come along and take as many books as he wanted — free! We searched the flyer for small print telling us what the catch was, but there wasn't any small print. So, on Sunday afternoon, we all took a trip downtown to visit that bookstore.

We weren't the only ones. The lure of free books is something, apparently, that few readers can resist. I certainly couldn't. I walked up and down the crowded aisles, trying not to knock down the precarious piles of old books heaped everywhere. One by one, I found ones that I wanted — some old favorites, other new and promising prospects.

My brothers, with Ma's help, all found books for their various age levels. Daddy, who works as an accountant, even found some books on finance that he was interested in reading. All in all, we did very well. It was hard to stagger out under the weight of all the books we selected. The back of the minivan was piled high with them as we left to have the ice-cream we'd decided to treat ourselves to.

It was, I decided happily as I licked my cone, one of the best Sunday outings we'd had in a long time. Even sweeter than the ice-cream I was eating was the prospect of curling up with the zillions (well, almost) of books I'd found.

With such a wealth of reading material to keep me busy, my library books took a definite back seat. I'd already finished three of them by that Sunday; now I skimmed the other two and then asked my mother if she'd mind dropping them off at the library for me, at her convenience.

"I'm not planning to visit the library again this week, or anytime soon," I laughed. "Not with that stack of books I just brought home!"

"How long do you think it'll take you to read them all, Gila?" one of my brothers asked teasingly. My whole family knows what a fast reader I am. "Two days, or three?"

As it turned out, it took six weeks.

It was on another Sunday, exactly six weeks after our visit to the bookstore, that I closed the last book. That'll give you an idea of how many of them I'd taken.

Tomorrow, I planned, I'd stop in at the library on my way home from school. The free books had been fun, while they lasted. Now it was back to my old routine. I found myself looking forward to it.

But the only feeling I had when I stood in front of the librarian's desk the next afternoon was — dismay.

"Overdue?" I echoed, bewildered. "But I haven't been here in ages! And my mother returned the last batch I borrowed.

I'm sure of it!"

She pointed at her computer screen. "There's only one book that's overdue. It should have been returned three weeks ago."

She read me the title.

My face grew even blanker. "But I didn't even take out that book! I read it a million times last year, but not — " Suddenly, I broke off. "Wait a second. That's the book my friend borrowed, on my card!"

The librarian looked at me disapprovingly over her half-glasses.

"You should never let books be borrowed on your card unless you're sure you can trust the person to return them on time."

"I did trust her..."

"Well," she sniffed, "I'd suggest you speak to your friend. I'm sorry, but I can't let you take out any more books while the fine for this one remains unpaid."

With that, she turned her back on the pile of books I'd so eagerly selected, leaving me standing there with my jaw hanging open.

When I'd collected my wits, I realized that there was only one thing to do. I had to talk to Tzippy right away. She'd pay the fine — I'd be glad to drop it off at the library for her, to save her the trouble — and then I'd be able to take out books again.

Regretfully, I left my pile on the checkout desk and left the building.

Tzippy hadn't walked home with me today because she'd had an appointment at the dentist's. With rising impatience, I paced the house until I figured she'd be home. I snatched the phone and dialed the number that was as familiar to me as my own.


"Hi, Tzippy! It's Gila. Listen, there's a problem. You never returned that book to the library."

"Which book?"

"You know — the one you borrowed on my card, that time you came to the library with me? Remember — you started reading it my house?"

"Oh... yeah. Now I remember! What ever happened to that book?"

"That," I said with growing irritation, "is what I'm asking you."

"Let me see..." I could picture Tzippy closing her eyes, thinking back. "I was reading it in that chair in your living room... Then your brothers came storming in... Yes! I remember now. I left it on the arm of the chair. Didn't you see it there?"

"No! Why'd you leave it there, anyway? Why didn't you take it with you when you left?"

"On my way home, I realized that I'd forgotten to take it.

But, to tell you the truth, I wasn't so crazy about reading it in the first place. I figured you'd return it along with your other books. I meant to say something to you the next day, but I forgot."

"That was irresponsible of you, Tzippy. You should have returned that book yourself, or at least given it to me and asked me to return with mine. Now we have no idea where the books is — and you owe the library a three-week's over due fine!"

Tzippy began to sound upset. "What do you mean, I owe? I left the book in your house, for you to return. I didn't lose that book!"

At the words, 'lose that book,' I realized that the problem was more serious than I'd thought. A missing book could cost a fortune to replace. "I'm going to see if I can find it," I said grimly. "Then we'll talk."

"There's nothing to talk about." Her tone was stiff. I hung up without answering.

A quick search of my bedroom revealed what I'd already known: Tzippy's book wasn't there. I hurried down to the living room. The book wasn't on any of the shelves, or behind the couch. At last, on a hunch, I pushed back the easy chair in which Tzippy had been reading that day. Voila!

There lay the book. It had apparently been knocked off the arm of the chair — probably by one of my brothers in the course of a heedless game — and then kicked under the arm-chair, where it had been resting peacefully until now.

I rushed back to the phone. "Tzippy? I found it. Thank goodness, at least you won't have to pay for the whole book. Now, if you'll just — "

"Just a second," Tzippy interrupted. "You don't seem to get it, Gila. I'm not the one who has to pay for the overdue book. I left it in your house, for you to return. I'm not the one who left it lying around for weeks!"

"Are you kidding?" I screeched. "I borrowed that book on my card, as a favor to you! I didn't want it for myself. I've read it a million times. It was your book, and it's your responsibility to pay!"

"I don't agree. And I'm not paying." Tzippy can be stubborn when she thinks she's right.

"You have to pay." So can I.

"Nothing doing."

I drew a long breath, and forced myself to speak calmly.

"Look, Tzippy. What's the big deal? Twenty-one days, at twenty cents a day, comes to just four dollars and twenty cents. That's not a lot of money."

"It's the principle of the thing. I don't owe the library anything, so why should I pay?"

The argument was going nowhere. "Look," I said between gritted teeth. "I'm going to ask my father what he thinks. You do the same. Then get back to me, okay?"

Grudgingly, she said, "Okay," and hung up.

My father, when I told him about it, was thoughtful. "It's really not a good idea to let other people borrow books on your card, Gila. It can lead to problems."

I sighed. "I know that — now. But isn't it Tzippy's responsibility to pay, Daddy?"

"I think that the issue is not a hundred percent clear, either way. She left the book here in good conscience, and in clear view, expecting you to return it. Of course, she would have been better off handing it to you and asking you to return it... but she still left it here in good faith.

"On the other hand, you let her use your library card in good faith, too, and you never saw the book she'd left because it had been kicked under the chair, through no fault of either of yours. Tzippy forgot to tell you about the book she'd left — and you forgot that you'd taken an extra book out on your card."

"So — what's the verdict? Who's in the right here?"

"I'd suggest," Daddy said, "that the two of you work it out between you."

And that, when I finally heard from Tzippy later, was pretty much what her father had said, too.

"Well, fine," I said. "Let's work it out. You pay for the book."

"No, you pay for it!"

We were both good and steamed up by now. We each clung to the "principle of the thing", determined not to give in. This was War — winner takes all! We hung up on each other again, and I stomped up to my room to brood.

I took out my "piggy bank", which is not a pig at all but rather a heart-shaped box that once held chocolates but now guards my hard-earned babysitting dollars. Being just 12, I've only just started babysitting, and each job is precious. I figured rapidly in my head: At four dollars an hour, $4.20 represented an hour and twelve minutes. An hour and twelve minutes spent feeding the Reichner baby his cereal — and then cleaning it up when he spit it out again; an hour and twelve minutes spent chasing the Schwartz twins around the house and thinking up ways to keep them from fighting; an hour and twelve minutes telling interminable bedtime stories to the Greenberg girls, and waiting in vain for their eyelids to start drooping.

So money was an issue. But there was an even more important one here. There was my pride. Call it self-respect, if you want. I didn't think I'd done anything wrong, and I did believe that it had been Tzippy who'd been negligent here. I refused to pay her fine for her and then go on our merry way, as though none of this had happened.

I went to bed that night in a state of righteous indignation. It was hard for me to fall asleep, though — partly because of my fight with Tzippy, and partly because I had nothing to read....

In school, I began to feel the effects of our fight. Tzippy and I sat next to one another but did not exchange a word. At recess, a cold cloud seemed to envelop her, and I know there was a similar one around me.

Shabbes (Sabbath) was the worst. On that day, I was used to spending all of my free time with Tzippy. I spent this one alone.

On Monday, a week after my futile attempt to get Tzippy to pay the library fine, I found myself staring bleakly at myself in the mirror. Life felt empty. My mother had let me use her card to take out some library books, but for the first time in years I didn't feel like reading. I didn't feel like doing much of anything, these days. What was the point?

I had an urge to pick up the phone and call Tzippy. My finger literally trembled as I imagined doing it. But what would

I say to her?

I forced myself to remember my hard-earned money — an hour and twelve minutes' worth.

I held fast to my pride.

Wearily, I climbed into bed, and fell asleep almost at once. Sometime in the middle of the night, I came suddenly wide awake.

Everything was so still that I could hear the house creaking and moaning to itself as it tried to settle down. My mind was still, too, not caught up in its usual round of thoughts. Quiet wrapped me up, outside and in. And, in that stillness, I had a flash of clarity.

What I realized was this:

I had my hard-earned money. That's one.

I had my pride. That's two.

But I didn't have my friend. So I didn't have much at all.

Take two, subtract everything that really counts... and you're left with a big, fat zero. A simple equation... But then, I'd never been very good with numbers.

Tzippy was absent that day. In a way, I was relieved, though of course I didn't want her to be sick. (Later, I found out that her mother had decided to keep her out of school to take her shopping for her big sister's wedding.) After school, I hurried away as fast as I could... to the library.

"I owe an overdue fine on a book," I told the librarian (a different one, this time). I gave her the title, and my library card.

She scanned the card and looked at the page that flashed onto the computer screen.

"Oh, that's already been paid," she told me sunnily. "There are no charges listed here."

I blinked. "But — but that's impossible. I owed three - no, make that four weeks' — worth. And I know I didn't pay it yet!"

"Well, then," she said, "Somebody else must have." She smiled at me, then transferred the smile to something, or someone, over my shoulder.

I turned.

There stood Tzippy, just inside the library door, looking embarrassed and pleased at the same time. When she saw me looking at her, she came forward.

"I was just about to leave," she said. "My mother's waiting in the car."

"You — you paid the fine?"

She nodded, looking down. "Uh-huh."

"But — I just came in here to do that!"

She looked up with a grin. "Sorry. Beat you to the punch."

I stood there, looking at her, and not knowing what to say.

She said it for me. "Want a ride home?"

"Sure," I said gratefully.

We passed through the library doors together. As we left, I glanced back. I don't know which was brighter — that librarian's smile, or the stab of joy in my own heart.

It didn't matter, either way. The important thing was, I had my friend back.

And so, I had everything.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting and inspirational stories. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Libby Lazewnik, the highly acclaimed juvenile fiction author, writes weekly for Yated Ne'eman. Comment by clicking here.

Front Page News
Covering for his twin

© 2004, Yated Ne'eman