I hardly ever wear shaitels, but I was wearing one now, and it kept swinging forward every time I moved my head. So maybe I shouldn’t move my head. And my hands. What should I do with my hands? After a few false tries, I clasped them together.
The minahelet was asking Princess another question. She answered in a soft, barely audible voice. “Her accent is perfect,” the minahelet informed me in Hebrew. I beamed, and then quickly rearranged my face to more demure, humble lines.
“So, what does your husband do?”
My heart sank. I had told myself that I would not lie, not even to get my daughter into school. So I had decided that if the minahelet would ask where my husband learns, I would say where he learns. But if she would ask what he does… “He learns in the morning and at night.” I paused. “And in the afternoon, he works as a kablan.” I smiled winningly. “We feel very lucky that he can learn and support the family.” I do. I think it’s wonderful. I think that it’s a dream. I wish she wasn’t looking at me like I was consorting with the devil.
“Is that enough to support the family? Just working in the afternoon?” she looked at me in disbelief.
Does she think that I’m lying, about him learning as well as working? She does. “Well, I do a couple of small things too, and my husband works late and night too, but yes, it does, Baruch Hashem.”
“What do your parents do?”
What in the world does that have to do with anything? “My mother is…” I broke my teeth for a while trying to explain what she does in small Hebrew bite sized words. I knew that I should have brought a dictionary. Finally she nodded in understanding.
“And your father?”
“He’s sick. He’s been unable to work for a number of years.” She expressed sympathy. I felt a leap of hope. Would she accept me out of pity? I have no pride. Pity is fine.
“Do you have a computer in the house?”
I was prepared for that one. “We do, but my husband needs if for work, and I need it to write. We don’t let the kids use it. So we keep it in my cheder layda.”
She cocked her head.
It took me a second. “Oh, I mean cheder shayna!” I laughed.