“Finally Havah raised her head to glare at the other woman. Under different circumstances she would have pitied her. At thirty-one Tova looked closer to fifty. Years of abuse had worn lines into her face. Childbearing had left its mark on her slight frame, curving her spine and bowing her shoulders.”
~~taken from Please Say Kaddish for Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
At the age of fourteen, Arel’s sister Tova Gitterman, Yussel’s second eldest child, was a dark haired, grey eyed beauty. Feivel Resnick, then seventeen, fancied himself in love with her and begged the rabbi for her hand. However Yussel informed him that she was already promised. Not to be refused, Feivel stalked her until the day he cornered her doing laundry at the river.
When Tova was found to be pregnant with Feivel’s child it rendered her betrothal agreement null and void. Rabbi Yussel felt he had no choice but to sanction the marriage for honor’s sake.
Instead of the fulfillment of his dreams, Feivel feels trapped. He is an abusive drunkard who squanders his meager earnings on drink and takes out his frustrations on Tova. As Please Say Kaddish for Me opens, Tova is pregnant with their fifth child.
After the baby’s birth, Tova signs an agreement for her eldest to marry the shoemaker who is twice the girl’s age. Havah is indignant and accuses Tova of selling her daughter into slavery for a pair of shoes.
As time passes, Havah learns that life isn’t always a simple matter of right and wrong. While she may never agree with Tova’s decision she does come to respect the woman’s inner strength.