a peek inside "Murder at the Minyan"
by Shulamit E. Kustanowitz.
Available now from BuyBooksOnTheWeb.com, Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and
and wherever books are sold.
Edition for Kindle
SOON: eBook Editions for Nook, iPad, iPhone and Reader
By nine, even the mourners had left. Avi stayed because he
had an appointment.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
however, would not be the right time. The last few men were leaving the Shul,
and Avi had to wait for the Fernbergs.
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.
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.
returned to his chore of taking out the garbage and Avi walked back toward his
office. He found Bill there waiting for him.
London had just begun explaining to Bill the agenda for this family meeting when
a gunshot stopped him in mid sentence.
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.
was standing at the trash bin, acting as if nothing were wrong.
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.
Rabbi London saw the gun.
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
could this have happened? he demanded of himself. He could not even have
imagined the scene a few minutes earlier.
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.
TO HOME PAGE