Recap: Hope’s parents write a letter giving Hope permission to attend the Beth Jacob School. She is very excited. She gets extra tutoring. She goes with Rivkah to school and feels uncomfortable if anyone asks her about her family. She finds out that there is going to be a production and they need dancers. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her ballet ability. Rivkah wants her to volunteer to dance in the production.

That night, I felt Rivkah’s disappointment in me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just don’t want to stand out as being so different.”

“I don’t understand. We need help with the dances. You know how to dance, you told me, and I bet you could make up really nice ones.”

I couldn’t explain it. She didn’t know what it felt like to be different like me. I wanted to fit in. The ballet thing was just so different from everyone else.

I felt this wall was going up between us now, and I didn’t want that. What should I do? I didn’t want Rivkah to be disappointed in me, but I didn’t want to put myself out there.

I davened for help.

In the early morning, Rivkah came over to my bed.

“Tikvah, talk to my father. He’s a rabbi, and when you have a problem, it’s always important to talk to your rav.”

“I’m embarrassed to talk about ballet.”

She shrugged and headed to the closet to get dressed for school.

I finally went downstairs. Rabbi Jacobson had just returned from davening. He was headed into his study. I knocked softly.

He beckoned me in. “How can I help you?”

“Well, I don’t know how to ask, but Rivkah said I should ask you. I, well, I used to do ballet, and she wants me to dance in the production, but I’m afraid the girls will think I’m strange.”

He nodded. “I understand your concern, Tikvah.”

There was a long silence. “But listen. Hashem gives each of us strengths and gifts. We have talents that He wants us to use. We are all unique and we all have our own special mission in this world. If you have a talent in dancing, then Hashem wants you to use it in a proper way to serve Him. “

“So, you think I should try out for dance in the production?”

“The way you use your talent to serve Hashem is––” He paused. “That way is something you will have to discover on your own.”

Rabbi Jacobson added. “Look at that photo on the wall.”

I saw a photograph above his desk of a little boy playing a trumpet.

“That was me when I was young. My parents saw that I liked to blow on everything and try to make music, so they gave me trumpet lessons. When there were simchos or Purim parties, or later when my friends were getting married, they would call on me to play the trumpet. I felt honored and special.”

I stared at the picture. I thought hard about what Rabbi Jacobson had said.

Ballet didn’t have to be thrown away if I could discover a way to do it and serve Hashem.

At breakfast, I chewed on the cereal but my mind was far away, remembering my dream – remembering how it felt to dance across the room.

“When are the dance tryouts?” I asked.

Rivkah smiled. “Today.”

A senior girl taught the group of girls trying out for dance a short dance routine. It was simple and not very challenging. I mastered it in a few minutes. “You’ll do this across the stage when the teacher puts on this song,” she said.

I watched each girl dance across the stage. Some girls had natural grace. Others were not meant to be dancers, but I felt bad making a judgment. In my mind’s eye, I pictured how the steps could change and come to life.

When it was my turn, it was like my steps had a mind of their own. I found myself pirouetting and then gliding into a tour jete and an arabesque. The music moved through me, and I felt that light, flying feeling I loved when I was dancing, and the dance movements flowed with the music.

After the music stopped, there was a pause and then a loud burst of applause from all the girls who were auditioning.

“You are amazing!” one of the girls said.

“She should make up the choreography for the dances.”

The senior girl who had taught me the dance for the audition just stared at me. I worried that I had hurt her feelings.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t do it exactly as you showed me. I’m sorry.”

The senior girl who was head of dance finally found her voice. “You’re sorry? You are amazing. Will you please take over and be the dance head? You will make the dances so much better. I honestly want you to take over.”

“I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“I’ll be in the dances, but I really didn’t want to be head anyway. That’s the truth. They asked me to do it, but I’m not really a dancer; and besides, with your talent our show will really be amazing.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”


To be continued

Susie Garber is the author of the newly released historical fiction novel, Flight of the Doves (Menucha Publishers, 2023), Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers, 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishers, 2021), Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers, 2020), Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, and “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022).