Chapter 2 Summary

At the yeshiva, Asher is treated with special care because of his parents’ close relationship to the Rebbe. He still refuses to draw. When his mother asks about it, he simply tells her that he does not feel like it anymore. During the summers, the family goes to a bungalow up in the Berkshires, where Mr. Lev joins them on the weekends. Mrs. Lev regains her old happiness during the summer, but she has become less like a sister to Asher and more of an organizer.

Mr. Lev resumes his travels on behalf of the Ladover Hasidic movement. He is devastated when he learns that the Soviets have killed the Jewish writers in Russia. During that winter, a snowstorm shuts down the East Coast. Mr. Lev is in Boston and cannot return. This upsets Mrs. Lev, who still thinks that her brother was killed because of his work for the Rebbe, the same work that her husband is now doing. When Mr. Lev returns, he hears on the radio that Jewish doctors have been arrested for presumably trying to kill Russian military officers. Mr. Lev fears that Stalin will use this as an excuse for a major purge of Russian Jews. At school, the rabbi tells the students about the new atrocities in Russia. Asher goes to the stationery store where Reb Krinsky now works. He asks him about his experiences as a prisoner in Siberia. Mrs. Rackover is upset when he returns home late, though she does not tell his mother. Mr. Lev talks to him about his failures in school. Asher continues to see Reb Krinsky after school. He sees that the store now carries art supplies, but he still has not regained his desire to draw. Mrs. Lev gives Asher permission to go to the stationery store after school but warns him to come straight home afterward. Asher asks his father if he will now travel to Russia, but Mr. Lev tells him that once a Jew leaves the Soviet Union, it is very dangerous to return.

Asher asks Reb Krinsky if his father would be sent to Siberia if they lived in Russia. Reb Krinsky says that he would, if he were not shot. During another snowstorm, Asher goes to the stationery store and returns home later than normal. His mother is furious, asking him what he is doing to her. The next morning she apologizes for losing her temper. Asher forgets to study for his arithmetic test again and fails.