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Created by Leah Klein
Written by Esther Sutton
Copyright © 1993 by Targum Press
I don't know if this is such a good idea, Pinky," Sarah Chinn said. "I mean, maybe I'm not the pierced-ear type. Maybe they won't look so good on me."
Sarah's older sister, Pinky Chinn, smiled. "Sure they will, Sarah," she said. "They'll look beautiful. And it's fun! The jeweler has a lot of different kinds of earrings. You get to choose whatever color you want!"
The two sisters were on their way downtown together. Pinky was treating her younger sister, Sarah, to an outing in honor of Sarah's birthday.
"I can't believe I'm going to be ten!" exclaimed Sarah. 'Ten years old! Doesn't it sound grown-up?"
'Yes, you're on your way," agreed Pinky with a smile. You're not a baby anymore. "And that's why it's time for you to pay a little more attention to how you look."
Sarah thought about that for a minute. "Maybe, Pinky, but...I'm scared. Doesn't it hurt when she puts the earrings in?"
"A little bit, Sarah, but only the first day," Pinky said. "After that it doesn't hurt at all. And then you've got pierced ears for the rest of your life!"
"Okay, I'm convinced. It's now or never!" said Sarah.
The two girls had reached East Main Street. They were on their way to a small jewelry store there.
"Hello, girls. Can I help you?" asked Mrs. Rosen, the store's manager.
"Hi," answered Pinky. 'Yes, my sister would like to get her ears pierced."
"Lovely," said Mrs. Rosen. She took out a small tray. It contained many different earrings. They all seemed beautiful. Finally, Sarah chose a pair that looked like tiny pearls.
"Sit down, honey." Without another word, Mrs. Rosen took out her little earring "gun." She carefully dabbed something cold on Sarah's ears.
Sarah sat still with her eyes closed tight.
"Sarah, don't you want to see how they look?" asked Pinky.
"I'm waiting for her to finish," explained Sarah, opening her eyes.
"I am finished," laughed Mrs. Rosen. She handed Sarah a small mirror with an ivory handle. 'Take a look!"
Sarah was impressed. 'Wow! That was fast! And it really didn't hurt much! Thank you."
'The next thing we're going to do won't even hurt at all!" said Pinky. She put her arm around Sarah's shoulders.
That made Sarah nervous. "Uh-oh! Now what?" she said.
Pinky laughed. "Well, the earrings look really nice on you, Sarah, but your hair covers your ears most of the time. It's hard to see them."
'You mean, you think I should get my haircut?" Sarah asked.
'You guessed it," answered Pinky. "There's a little salon right down the street. I'll take you there."
"But I like long hair," Sarah said. She wasn't sure she liked this part of her birthday treat.
'You don't have to get a short haircut," Pinky explained. "Just have it trimmed and shaped. You could have a long page boy that goes a little bit behind your ears. Then you'll really be ready for your tenth birthday."
Sarah thought about it for a minute. "Well, it does sound like a good idea," she said. "I mean, if we went to all this trouble to pierce my ears, we might as well be able to see the earrings."
"Great! Let's go!"
Forty-five minutes later, Sarah came out of Suzanne's Hair Salon. She felt very different and a little strange.
'You look fantastic!" Pinky said happily.
'Thanks," Sarah answered. "It does look nice, I think. But I feel so funny. I'm still the same old me, inside, right?"
"Of course you are!" laughed Pinky. Come on, let's go catch the next bus and get back home for supper. I'm starved!"
The sun peeked through the soft curtains in Sarah's room the next morning. Winter was coming to an end. Tiny white and blue wild-flowers poked their way up through the grass just outside her window.
Spring is coming soon! thought Sarah.
Spring...and my birthday. She felt warm and happy inside. I wonder what my friends will say about my haircut. I hope they like it!
She looked once more in the mirror over her bureau before going downstairs. The tiny pearl earrings and new haircut made her look special and dressed up, even though she was wearing her regular uniform for school.
"Sarah, where are you?" called Mrs. Chinn from downstairs. "It's getting late!"
"I'm coming, Mommy." Sarah grabbed her blue book bag and dashed downstairs.
"Here's your sandwich, honey. And Sarah, you look lovely! Pinky's surprise was a great idea."
'Thanks, Mommy. I'd better run. Bye!"
Sarah ran for one block. Then she switched to skipping and walking and then ran again for the last block. It was 8:55 A.M. The first bell would ring any minute. All of a sudden, Sarah felt a little shy. Her stomach was churning like it did every year on the first day of school. She looked at her reflection in the window of Rabbi Levi's dusty gray car that was parked right in front of school. She looked a little strange because it wasn't a real mirror. Her head looked bigger than usual.
Oh, no! thought Sarah. I think I've made a terrible mistake!
Just then, Rivky Segal, one of Sarah's best friends, came running through the parking lot. "Hi, Sarah! We'd better.. .Wow! You got a haircut!"
"Uh-huh. Do you like it?" Rivky walked all around Sarah, looking at her. "Yes, I really like it. I just have to get used to the 'new you'! Oh, there goes the bell. We'd better run."
The two girls ran up the stairs and down the hall to their fourth grade classroom. They scurried to their seats. Their teacher, Morah Silver, was already taking attendance. Sarah suddenly wished she could become invisible. Her classmates and friends knew it wasn't the right time to talk. But Melissa's eyes opened wide as Sarah walked to her seat. Then she nodded and grinned broadly from ear to ear. Chaya Leah also smiled at her. And Shani gave her an A-OK signal. Sarah was happy, but embarrassed. She could feel her cheeks turning hot and pink. She was very relieved when the chazanit was chosen and davening finally began.
After davening, Morah Silver gave a really interesting Chumash class about B'nei Yisrael and the eigel hazahav. Then it was time for their ten-thirty recess. Shaina Cohen, who sat right behind Sarah, tapped her on the shoulder. "You look really nice, Sarah. I like your hair cut and your earrings!"
'Thanks, Shaina," Sarah said. She still felt a little shy.
By that time, Sarah's best friends, Naomi Kaufman, Melissa Farber, and Rivky Segal, had also come over to her desk.
'You look so pretty!" exclaimed Naomi.
"I like everything," added Melissa, "your earrings and your haircut. Did your mother take you?"
"Let's go outside and talk," said Sarah. "I don't want everyone to stare at me!"
The girls put on their coats and walked out to the playground. It was cold outside, but sunny. The feeling of spring was in the air.
"I can't wait 'til it gets warm out and we can leave our coats at home," said Naomi. Everyone agreed that it was time for winter to end.
"Okay, Sarah Chinn," said Rivky in between bites of her shiny red apple. "How did you have the nerve to do all this? That's what I want to know!"
"Well, my sister Pinky said she wanted to take me downtown in honor of my birthday and treat me to pierced earrings," Sarah said. "She said that ten is a special age when you start to be more grown up. You have to care more about how you look."
"I never heard that," said Naomi quietly.
"Well, Pinky is thirteen, and I guess she knows," answered Sarah.
"Anyway, your earrings are really sweet," chimed in Melissa.
"Who did your hair?" asked Rivky, fingering her own long, brown ponytail.
"Oh, just a lady named Suzanne who works downtown," answered Sarah. "Anyway, enough! Let's talk about my birthday party. That's more interesting, isn't it?"
"Let's go sit on the bench by the machanayim court," suggested Melissa. The girls agreed and ran over to the bench. They had really become close friends over the last few months. Each one had some kind of problem to deal with in fourth grade. They had discovered that by talking together and trying to help each other, they could work out their problems. They managed to have a lot of fun too! They had built their very own clubhouse in Naomi's favorite tree. They called themselves the Tree-house Club.
"Where's your party going to be, Sarah?" asked Naomi.
"In our basement. It's very roomy and there isn't much furniture down there. We'll have plenty of space to play."
"And eat!" added Rivky with a twinkle in her eye. Eating was one of Rivky's favorite pastimes. And Sarah happened to be a very good cook!
"What kind of games will we play?" asked Melissa.
"Oh, all kinds of funny contests," Sarah said. "Pinky and Chinky are helping me with ideas and getting everything ready. Pinky is good in arts and crafts, so she's helping me decorate the room."
"Older sisters can really be nice sometimes, can't they!" commented Melissa.
"Hey, everybody!" Sarah called out. "It's almost eleven o'clock. Time to get back to class."
Rivky sighed. "Another boring day ahead of us."
But this time Rivky was wrong. The day was not going to be boring at all.
After recess had ended, all the classes in Bais Yaakov of Bloomfield returned to their rooms.
In the fourth grade room, the girls took out their Sefer Shoftim for Navi class. This was one of their favorite subjects. Whenever they finished a perek, they would do some kind of project in class. Sometimes they acted out the story in the Navi. Once they made a mural, using paint and clay, to show the different scenes described in the perek.
The hours passed quickly. Naomi looked up at the clock on the wall. Soon it would be lunchtime.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
All the girls looked up. They were curious to see who was coming in.
When they saw who it was, all the girls jumped up. It was Rabbi Levi, the school menahel He didn't often come to their classroom. What could he want?
It didn't take long for their curiosity to be satisfied. Rabbi Levi spoke quietly to the teacher for a few minutes. Then he turned to speak to the class.
"Girls, I have an important announcement," he said. Naomi looked at Sarah. Sarah looked at Naomi. Both of them turned to look at Rivky. What could it be?
"How many of you girls have ever heard of Riverside?" he asked. Brocha Dubin raised her hand. "I have a cousin who used to live there," she said. "She moved to New York last year." Rabbi Levi nodded. "Riverside is a town that is not too far from Bloomfield. It had a small Jewish school. But every year more and more of the Jews of Riverside moved out to larger cities such as Bloomfield, just like Brocha's cousin did. The school is now so small that they have decided that they will have to close it. And most of its students will be coming to our school."
The girls all gasped. An entire school coming to join them! Wow!
Rabbi Levi looked at his watch. "I've got to leave now, girls. There will be some changes made because we are getting so many new pupils. We'll talk about them later. In the meantime, remember how important it is to make the new girls feel at home."
When Rabbi Levi left the classroom all the girls burst out talking. They wondered how many new girls would be coming to the school. They wondered how many of the new students would be in their own fourth grade. And most of all, they wondered what kind of changes Rabbi Levi was talking about.
At lunchtime, the girls were still talking about the new students who were coming to school. "It's going to be unbelievably crowded here," Rivky said to her friends at the fourth grade table in the cafeteria. "How will we all I on these benches?"
"Does anybody know how many girls coming?" asked Naomi.
"I don't know, but it's got to be a lot," Sarah said. 'Their whole school is closing down!"
"I've got an idea!" Rivky's face lit up, as it always did when she got excited. 'They could build a second floor in our classroom. It's got a really high ceiling. Then there would be room for another twenty-five desks!"
"Yeah, but if the teacher sits up there, everybody on the 'bottom floor' will get stiff necks!" laughed Sarah. Imagining twenty-five girls having to look up for six hours and all getting stiff necks made Rivky and all the girls at the table laugh so hard they almost cried.
'The main thing," Melissa said as she wiped her eyes and calmed down a little, "is not where they will sit, but what will they be like? Will everybody become friends?" Perhaps Melissa was remembering what it was like when she was "the new girl." She began attending Bais Yaakov of Bloomfield when her family became interested in learning more about Judaism. She had gone through many changes since then.
'Well, girls," said Rivky dramatically, "I think we will soon find out!"
Rivky turned out to be right. At the very end of Mrs. Fogel's last lesson, there was a knock at the door. In walked Rabbi Levi, for the second time that day. All the girls rose from their seats. Their faces were lit up with curiosity. Why had Rabbi Levi come to their class again? And what were those changes that he'd talked about?
"Please sit down, girls," Rabbi Levi said. "I have an announcement to make."
He waited until the girls were very quiet. Then he began. "As I told you this morning, a large group of new students will soon be joining our school. In fact, the group is so large that we are going to have to make some new classes for them. One of those classes is the fourth grade." Rabbi Levi paused. "In other words, we are going to make one more fourth grade class. The new girls will be divided between the two classes." He pushed his dark brown glasses back into place. 'Your class will also be split into two groups."
Split into two groups?? Rabbi Levi's announcement hit the fourth grade like a bolt of lightning. Rabbi Levi didn't wait to hear the thunder. He opened his famous navy blue folder (everyone knew that all of his important papers were always in that folder) and pulled out a list. 'The following girls will be moving to the new class, starting tomorrow." He began reading names from the list in alphabetical order. "Devorah Abrams, Gitty Buxbaum, Rachel Dinberg, Brocha Dubin, Deborah Goldstein, Rachel Haber, Breindy Katz, Sima Levy, Bracha Morrison..."
Sarah, Melissa, and Naomi breathed sighs of relief. Rabbi Levi had passed the Ks and hadn't mentioned their names. They were still all together!
Rabbi Levi continued. "Batsheva Ratner, Shoshana Rosenberg, Rivkah Segal, Hadassah Stern, Leah Tanenbaum, and Miri Weinbach."
Rabbi Levi put down the list. He took off his glasses and looked around the room. He didn't have to look hard to see tears in some of the girls' eyes. "I know this will be difficult for some of you," he said. "But you mustn't think that you are losing your present friends. Instead, you are about to make some new friends. And please remember, 'Heve mekabel kol ha'adam be'sever panim yq/bs' The Torah teaches us to receive everyone we meet with a pleasant smile. Please make your new classmates feel at home."
The last bell rang. Rabbi Levi had barely made it out the door when the entire fourth grade began to talk and yell at the same time.
'Tomorrow! They're coming tomorrow?!"
"Where will the new class be?"
"Who's going to be the teacher?"
"Leah, I don't want you to go!"
"How can they split us up in the middle of the year?"
Nobody left the room. All the girls needed to talk to their friends about Rabbi Levi's news. In the back of the classroom, Shoshana Rosenberg looked like she was about to cry. Shoshana was one of the girls in the new fourth grade.
"Don't feel so bad," said Naomi, who sat next to her.
"Why shouldn't I feel bad?" Shoshana sniffed. "I finally have a teacher I really like. I really love Morah Silver. And now I have to switch to a different class. Who knows what the new teacher will be like? Maybe she'll be horrible."
Naomi put her hand on Shoshana's shoulder. She wished she could make her feel better. "It's awful," Naomi agreed. "But maybe she'll be a really super teacher. Maybe you'll like her more than Morah Silver," she added. But Naomi really didn't believe what she was saying. She didn't blame Shoshana for feeling horrible. I would feel awful too if I had to leave my class, she thought to herself.
She looked around her. Her classmates were all standing around the room talking. In a corner, she saw her friends Melissa and Sarah talking to Rivky Segal.
Poor Rivky, Naomi thought. Naomi still couldn't believe that Rivky was going to be in the other class, taken away from all her friends.
Naomi quickly walked through the classroom to where Rivky and her friends were talking. "I can't believe it," said Sarah. 'Why you, Rivky? Why!?"
Rivky was still in a state of shock. She stared at Sarah, but didn't answer her. What could she say? How could Rabbi Levi have called her name?
Melissa put her arm around Rivky. "It's not fair!" she exclaimed. "What will we do without you, Rivky? We need to be together."
"It doesn't make any sense," declared Naomi. "How can they separate best friends?" she demanded to know.
Finally, Rivky said something. 'They can't. I'm not going to be split up from you guys. I just won't!"
"But what can you do about it?" Naomi asked sadly. 'Tomorrow you have to go to the other class."
"I don't know yet," answered Rivky. "But I'm going to think of something. Just wait and see!"
The others looked at each other sadly. What could Rivky do?
Tomorrow Rivky would be in a different class. They wouldn't be able to see her for most of the day. They wouldn't have the same tests. They wouldn't have the same teachers or homework or anything!
Could this be the end of their friendship? The end of the Treehouse Kids?
Goodbye to Rivky
It was a beautiful Thursday morning. The sun was shining brightly. Light green leaves were budding on the maple and oak trees. A soft wind was blowing fluffy white clouds across a light blue sky. But Rivky and her friends didn't notice any of these things. They felt like it was a dark gray day.
Today was the day that they were going to be split up. Nothing would ever be the same again!
"Did you think of a plan, Rivky?" asked Sarah as they walked to school.
"No," Rivky replied glumly. "Not yet. But maybe something will happen. Maybe they won't find a room with enough space or something."
"I doubt it," Naomi answered. "It sounded like Rabbi Levi has the whole thing organized already."
The four girls walked more slowly than usual. They weren't in a hurry to get to school today at all. But Bais Yaakov wasn't very far away, and they did get there. They were even early. Gloomily, they trudged upstairs to the second floor.
"Let's go to our room," suggested Melissa. "Maybe you won't have to leave, Rivky. Maybe they've changed their minds."
But when they reached their classroom, they saw a paper taped to the door. It was a list of names. The room right next door was now marked 4B. Its door also had a list of girls' names posted on it. There was "Rivkah Segal" in small, neat letters, right in the middle of the list on room 4B.
"Well, I may be there now," Rivky said to her friends, "but I'm not going to stay on that list for long! There's got to be something I can do."
Suddenly, Sarah stopped short. "Look, gang," she whispered. 'There they are."
All of the friends stared. In the hallway near room 4B, a group of the new girls stood huddled together. One girl had a long, silky brown braid. She was talking quietly to her friend, a girl with curly red hair and bright blue eyes.
"It's hard enough changing to a new school in the middle of the year," the girl with the braid complained. "But to go to a new school and be separated from your best friends is just too much."
"I know," answered the red-haired girl, whose name was Debby. "Boy, do I know."
They picked up their book bags and moved a little closer to their other friends. All the new girls kept looking at the lists of names and then at the Bais Yaakov of Bloomfield fourth graders who were standing several yards away from them.
No one smiled or said hello to anybody else. The girls from the Academy in Riverside were nervous about moving to a new school in the middle of the year. They were sad that their class had been split into two groups. The Bais Yaakov girls were also sad about their class being separated. They were sad, and some of them were also angry.
Just then, the first bell rang. Rabbi Levi came towards the fourth grade rooms. When he reached the door of room 4B, he announced, "Girls, it's time to go to your rooms. Everyone in 4A, over there, please. Those in 4B, come right in here."
"I guess I'd better go in," Rivky said to her friends. She looked like she was ready to cry. "I might as well get it over with. Bye, everybody."
"Bye, Rivky," answered Sarah sadly. "Don't give up, Riv. We're still your friends," said Naomi.
"Bye, Rivky. We'll see you at recess, right?" said Melissa. She wanted to cheer her friends up, at least a little bit.
In the other group, the girl with the pretty red curls was saying goodbye to her best friends.
"Bye, Rachel. Bye, Dena. I wish I could come with you."
"So do we, Debby."
"It's just not going to be the same without you. Bye, Deb."
In room 4A, the original Bais Yaakov girls sat down in their regular seats. The new girls saw the empty desks scattered throughout the room. Slowly, they chose their places and got settled.
By that time, Morah Silver had come into the room and hung up her coat. She stood at the front of the class and smiled warmly at the girls.
"Good morning. Welcome to Bais Yaakov of Bloomfield, all those who have just joined our class. We are happy to have you with us. If you have any questions about your schedule or about the sefarim you will be needing, please feel free to ask me during recess or at lunchtime.
All the new girls in room 4A listened carefully. They liked Morah Silver's warm brown eyes and friendly way of speaking. But Debby Kaplan, the red-headed girl, still felt very upset.
They're not going to get away with this, she thought angrily. I won't be split up from my own friends. I won't!
Morah Silver sat down and began taking attendance. "When I call your name, please raise your hand so that we can begin to get to know each other." After another pause, she began. "Leah Abrams...Rachel Simon...Susan Fried...Debby Kaplan..."
Debby didn't raise her hand. I wish I wasn't here, she thought.
Morah Silver raised her voice a little. "Debby Kaplan?"
Debby raised her hand a tiny bit.
Morah Silver looked at the angry blue eyes in the third row. "Are you Debby?" she asked quietly.
The new girl looked away from Morah Silver. Then she nodded and looked down, scowling.
"What's she so angry about?" whispered
Naomi to Sarah.
"I don't know," answered Sarah, "but I think she's in trouble already!"
Meanwhile, next door in room 4B, all the girls had finally settled down at their desks. Their new teacher stood at the front of the room and waited for quiet. She looked quite young and a little nervous.
"Good morning, girls," she said quietly. "Welcome to the new fourth grade. My name is Morah Blumberg."
The new teacher gave the girls a shy smile. Some of the girls smiled back. But one didn't. Rivky Segal stared at her pencil. She wouldn't look at the teacher.
Welcome, shmelcome, Rivky thought angrily. I won't be split up from my friends. I won't!
Jewish children's books-middle grades
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