Here's a peek inside "Murder at the Minyan"
by Shulamit E. Kustanowitz.

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By nine, even the mourners had left. Avi stayed because he had an appointment.
“My family will be here soon, Rabbi London,” Bill Fernberg said to him. “If you don’t mind waiting, I’d like to face these decisions together with them.”
“That would be fine,” Avi replied with a smile. He wasn’t yet finished putting away the religious accessories that he used at the morning service, so he didn’t mind the wait. If the family was late, the meeting could probably be condensed to under an hour anyway. And even if they weren’t finished, he could always depend on his wife, who was one of the Hebrew School teachers, to supervise the children’s ten o’clock Sunday morning arrival.
He zipped closed the two velvet bags in which he stored his gear for daily morning prayers and stashed them in the desk drawer in his office. He checked his phone and computer for messages, but his mind was still on the strange behavior he had observed that morning.
Morty Fenn had been unusually sociable at the minyan and, if Avi overheard correctly, he was asking Bill his opinion on women’s roles in the synagogue. The rabbi was astonished at Morty’s recent interest in coming to the daily service at all, and it was a further surprise that this subject in particular interested him.
Dennis Shine, on the other hand, nearly always voiced strong opinions, but this morning was strangely pensive. His wife Reeva was doing better, so that was probably not what was on the man’s mind. Perhaps he was thinking about his mother’s sudden decline. Or maybe his mood had something to do with the argument Dennis had the night before in the parking lot. Avi had heard both Dennis and Phil Schwartz shout the word “wrong” but did not know what had ticked the two mourners off. The rabbi decided he should speak to both men that day and not let a sore spot fester.
Now, however, would not be the right time. The last few men were leaving the Shul, and Avi had to wait for the Fernbergs.
The rabbi checked with custodian Joe Kripski to make sure everything was ready in the kitchen for that evening’s Sisterhood Chanukah party. He also asked Joe to set out donuts for the children who would arrive soon for Hebrew School. In two weeks, the children would be off for their December vacation, so the classes during Chanukah had to provide an anchor for their Jewish identity that could withstand the undercurrents of the Yule tide. Donuts would help.
“Okay,” said the always cooperative, but never talkative, synagogue employee. Avi learned a long time ago that Joe always did what he was asked to do, but volunteered nothing about what he was thinking.
Joe returned to his chore of taking out the garbage and Avi walked back toward his office. He found Bill there waiting for him.
Rabbi London had just begun explaining to Bill the agenda for this family meeting when a gunshot stopped him in mid sentence.
The two men ran to the back door and stopped short when they got to the parking lot. Avi took a few more steps, and then held his breath as he surveyed the scene.
Joe was standing at the trash bin, acting as if nothing were wrong.
Bill’s wife stood next to her SUV, parked in the space next to her husband’s car. She and their kids appeared to be all right, but they were frozen in mid movement as they were getting out of their vehicle. They stared in the direction of another car, but did not seem to know the woman and teenagers standing next to it.
            Avi looked toward the part of the lot nearest the building, next to the parking space he usually used, and saw other people he knew at their cars. From inside one luxury automobile, eyes facing mortality stared lifelessly through the windshield. The murderer’s target dripped, soaking the asphalt with blood.
Then Rabbi London saw the gun.
How could this be? the horrified rabbi wondered. Just a few minutes ago, I shared lofty prayers with these people. Now we are lost in a haze of violence and death.
How could this have happened? he demanded of himself. He could not even have imagined the scene a few minutes earlier.
But maybe he should have seen it coming, his conscience accused him. There might have been signs a long time ago that he ignored. At the very least, he should have detected something was wrong in October, when the deaths began.
But he didn’t.


               Murder at the Minyan will make a great gift for Chanukah or any occasion.
Order it now by clicking here.