No Small Tales: The Time That Never Passed

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The heart of author Emily Aaronson's story begins with the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover, a holiday that commemorates the ancient Israelites' escape from Egyptian slavery. Passover has come to symbolize liberation, redemption, and rebirth, and is celebrated for seven (or eight, depending on the tradition) days every spring. The holiday begins with two evenings of ritual meals called seders, at which Jews read the Haggadah to recount the story of the Exodus. During the holiday, Jews are not allowed to eat leavened bread or leavened bread products. Bread is replaced with matzah, a flat cracker-like bread. The legend goes that the ancient Israelites had to leave Egypt so quickly, their bread didn't have time to rise, and so the matzah is a reminder of this.

Aaronson says her story was inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, who, in addition to being acclaimed novelists, are husband and wife. It wasn't long after Foer published Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Krauss published The History of Love, that Aaronson went to hear them speak at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. But "The Time That Never Passed" is more than an homage. Give it a read and see what I mean. And for more great short stories, head on over to apt23.com, our partners in this feature.

The Time That Never Passed

by Emily Aaronson

She was the more restless writer of the two. For her, a place could run out, just like a song could run out or a favorite food could run out or the way she hoped the right person never would. For a time, she found her voice sipping tea in an ivy-covered café as the tiny upscale bookstore next door offered silent advice. There was the chair-in-the-studio-apartment phase, which worked until the studio apartment, inhabited for five years, became cluttered and old and the cat destroyed the chair. A park offered inspiration but low battery life. Now, she found herself in the basement of a synagogue, her presence allowed by an unlikely friendship with the local Rabbi. She found the place comforting, despite her previous distaste for all things synagogue, with its musty smelling prayer books and kindergarten-scribbled menorah pictures covering the walls. Even the bathrooms had the same smell as her childhood temple, nearly three thousand miles away, and she often wondered but kept forgetting to ask her mother whether there was such a thing as kosher hand soap.

He, on the other hand, picked a place and stuck to it and wrote only with the same type of pen on the same type of paper with the same illegible scrawl.
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April 7, 2009 - 5:48am
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