"Daddy, why can't we go to shul? Please, Daddy, please, why
don't we go to shul like Sandra's Dad? Pleeese..."
"Why don't you stop sucking your thumb, Lisa?" answered her
"If I stop sucking my thumb for a whole week, will you take
me to shul on Friday night, as we learned in Hebrew school?"
"O.K. Poppet," her father agreed grudgingly, "but you can't
even suck for one minute, for a whole week."
To her father's chagrin, ten-year-old Lisa was still sucking
her thumb day and night. He was embarrassed when they took
her out to dinner or to friends, but she claimed she couldn't
stop, so he felt quite safe with the deal they had made.
The first night, Lisa could not fall asleep, and the first
day following that night, she could hardly concentrate on
anything she was doing because she had to keep her thumb from
straying into its accustomed place. The next day was even
more difficult and she asked her mother to stick a thick
bandaid round the offending digit. That evening when Lisa was
in bed, her mother remarked to her husband, "She means it,
you know, Eddie. She is deadly serious about this shul
"She'll never see it through. Look at all the things I've
offered her to make her stop. She couldn't even stop for a
trip to Disneyland. I'm quite safe." But one day followed the
next, and Lisa made it to Friday. She announced jubilantly
after school, "We're going! We're going to shul. I told all
my friends I would be there."
Eddie put on his best suit and hastily slipped a
yarmulka into his pocket. Lisa trotted along beside
him in great excitement. Meanwhile, Mother lit the Shabbos
candles, as she always did. It was one of the few shreds of
tradition which still had a place in their home, yet they had
both agreed that Lisa had to attend Hebrew classes every
While they were gone, Mother decided to set the table and
make it a really festive occasion. She put the finishing
touches onto the good meal she had cooked, and dressed
herself up a bit to suit the occasion.
"Mommy, this is just like a Shabbos table, exactly like a
Shabbos table! Isn't it lovely, Daddy?" babbled Lisa, as the
two of them walked in. Eddie smiled wryly but the three of
them enjoyed that meal more than any they had eaten for a
long time. Somehow, they felt closer to each other in their
small family unit that Friday evening.
On Shabbos morning while Eddie was at work, Lisa confided to
her mother that she was going to make the same deal for the
following week. Mother was quite pleased. She stemmed from a
traditional home, and she secretly planned to dig out their
old kiddush cup. When Eddie came home, he was not as
antagonistic to another visit to the shul as he thought he
would be. After all, it was achieving a very important
purpose. Lisa would soon be cured of thumb sucking.
"Mind," he warned his delighted daughter. "Not even one
surreptitious little suck." Lisa understood all about fair
play and cheating, and would never tell a lie, so that he
trusted her implicitly.
The following Friday night, father and daughter paid a visit
to the shul again. This time, many of Lisa's friends were
there. The yamulka was not whipped off Eddie's head as
soon as they came home from shul. In fact, he decided to wear
it till he got home. Lisa read through the kiddush
laboriously, while Eddie decided to brush up on his Hebrew
reading. He was sure he had not forgotten everything. After
all, he had been his Rebbi's star pupil before his Bar
Mitzva. In fact, he suddenly remembered with nostalgia, that
he had thought all this religion thing quite cool when he was
To cut a long story short, they went to shul each week, this
father and his only daughter, and the three of them added
another small token of religion into their home each week.
Lisa went to a seminary when she finished school, instead of
going to university as had been planned, and in due course,
she married a kollel yungerman. Their three small sons
suck their thumbs vigorously in gan and cheder
in Yerusholayim, and delight their Bubby and Zeidy with their
sharp wit and ready knowledge of all the details of things
pertaining to Judaism, on their frequent visits to Jerusalem.
As a matter of fact, Eddie has retired now, and the two of
them are planning to sell up in England and move to a small
place in Jerusalem, just to be near their beloved daughter
and son-in-law, not to mention the delightful