For fifteen years, Shoshana Goldman has avoided her childhood synagogue. Her successful custom-furniture store keeps her busy enough, and the synagogue brings bad memories not peace. It will take nothing short of a minor miracle to change her mind.
Intrigued by her friends’ convictions that the new “hot Rabbi” is that minor miracle, Shoshana agrees to attend a service. It’s only one service, right? But meeting the new Rabbi changes everything.
David Freedman is settling into his new town and his new job easily. As a single dad and a Rabbi, his priorities are his daughter and his congregation. He doesn’t have time for romance, especially with the sexy pink-haired Shoshana whose tendency to say whatever she’s thinking is a breath of fresh air. But his attraction to Shoshana is a distraction he doesn’t want to give up. He knows a romance with a congregant is a bad idea. So it’s a very good thing Shoshana isn’t a member.
As David and Shoshana grow closer, Shoshana’s troubled past threatens to destroy their happiness. Will David be the miracle she needs to live fully in the present?
“You should come with us to Beth Elohim, Sho.” Shoshana Goldman rolled her eyes at her car’s dash as the voicemail played through her speakers. It was rare that her friends asked her to go to services, because they knew she was going to say no.
It still happened once every few months, though. It was a tradition. They asked, she came up with a new reason why she couldn’t, they pretended to believe her.
She supposed she didn’t really need a reason outside of “I have no desire to sit through Rabbi Lefkowich wheezing his way through the Friday prayer service” but that felt too obvious. Leah was still talking on the voicemail message, though.
“There’s a new rabbi. Abigail says all the women are calling him Rabbi Sexy-Pants.”
Shoshana laughed out loud and parked the car so she could listen to the message again. It didn’t get less funny the second time through. She ignored the cars passing her–downtown was only about five blocks, she probably should have pulled into an actual parking space and not the shoulder of the road.
Oh well, people would deal. Her car was small, it was a Wednesday morning, and this wasn’t exactly rush hour traffic. They could go around. She pressed a few buttons on the dash’s computer screen, returning the call.
“I swear to God, Shoshana,” her friend said as soon as she picked up the phone, “the old ladies call him rabbi sexy-pants. I didn’t believe it either, so I asked Evelyn. It’s totally true.”
“There is no way all the bubbes are calling this guy that,” Shoshana said, unable to even say it with a straight face. “Come on, Leah. You have to do better than that.”
“May God strike me dead. Abi asked me to make something for the oneg this Friday night, it’s supposed to be a kind of unofficial welcome or something,” Leah said seriously. Shoshana could hear conversation and the sounds of clinking dishware in the background; her friend must be at work. Leah ran the only coffee shop in town that was worth a damn.
“Just because you’re making something doesn’t mean you have to go to services. Are you catering too?” Shoshana could count on her hand the number of times she’d darkened the doors of Beth Elohim since she graduated college. She wondered if they’d ever bothered to replace the ratty shag carpet in the balcony. The teenagers were the only ones whoever used it anyway. And the choir, during the holidays.
“Oh. Shit no, Abigail knows better than to ask for that. But I can make a few trays of chocolate babka and bring some coffee beans.” Leah said something else, but it was muffled and there was a pinging sound that Shoshana knew would be the antique cash register. She must be talking to a customer. Shoshana signaled to pull back onto the street. She may as well keep driving if they were going to continue to talk about this. After a few moments Leah spoke again. “Listen, I’m not saying it’s better to hear the word of God from a hot rabbi, but I figure it makes things a little more interesting, right?”
“You are a terrible human being,” Shoshana said, laughing. “I didn’t even know they were looking for a new guy. What happened to Sidney Lefkowich?”
“Apparently he gave the board his intention to retire six months ago. They’ve been auditioning new rabbis since Tu B’shvat. You’d know this if you read the newsletters.”
“Did you know?” Shoshanah’s disinterest in the goings-on at the local shul was well documented, but she was a little surprised Leah seemed to be behind on digesting new information.
“I knew they were auditioning people, but I kinda thought it was going to be a support thing and Sidney would hang around for a few years. But he’s fucking off to Arizona, something about scratching the dirt with his grandkids.”
“I guess that makes sense,” she said mildly. She couldn’t think what else there was to do in Arizona.
“Sho, you have to come, though,” Leah said, something close to an actual whine in her voice.
Shoshana flicked her bangs out of her eyes with one finger and adjusted her sunglasses. This was the Leah she was used to. Fun, but wheedling if she didn’t get her way. She smirked at herself in the rear view mirror before she said, “Remind me why I have to?”
“Because I refuse to lose another bet to my sister. If you don’t show up, I owe Abi twenty bucks.”
“No, Abi bet,” Leah said. Shoshana could practically hear her stamping her foot. “I just shook on it. Come on, it’ll be fun. You can scandalize the bubbe brigade and Abigail can introduce you to the preschool kids who aren’t awful.”
“Rabbi. Sexy. Pants.”
“Ugh, okay fine. But you don’t get to ask me to do anything else for a month,” Shoshana said, knowing it was useless to keep trying to fight it. Leah made some noises that could have been an agreement. They could also have been harrumphs of sarcasm, but Shoshana wasn’t done yet. “You’re buying me dinner after, and I get to keep the twenty bucks.”
discussions of grief over loss of a parent, hero is divorced, discussion of chronic illness for secondary character