April 10, 2022
When Sister Hilda became a nun, she had to give up worldly possessions, including a cherished fox fur coat from her mother. So when she spots a lustrous fox fur coat made by Samuel Rosen she is struck with admiration. Rosen’s wife Orli is pregnant; he and she live above the furrier owned by her grandfather, who lives with them and taught Sammy the trade. Hilda is reluctant to allow a home birth near the industrial setting, but Sammy promises that the business doesn’t intrude into the living space, so she acquiesces.
She also refers Sammy to Dr. Turner, who sends him to the hospital for an x-ray to check out Sammy’s attacks of breathlessness. It’s not tuberculosis, which Sammy had as a teenager back in Poland, and the x-ray doesn’t show anything malign.
The malignancy lurks in Sammy’s past: he was in a concentration camp. He bursts into the room while Orli is in labor, fearing that the nurses are hurting her with their tools. After the birth of his son, his chest clears up, but he can’t sleep and wears a winter coat everywhere despite the heat.
He’s afraid he’ll have to leave in a hurry; his family was too slow to escape the concentration camps. His mother and brother were gassed upon arrival at the camp. He is so fearful that he objects to Orli’s suggestion that they give their son a Hebrew name, and doesn’t want people to know about the bris, or circumcision ceremony, for his son. He does ask Orli’s grandfather to hold his son during the ceremony, an honor to him.
Lucille and Cyril want to wait to have a child: they are saving up to buy a home of their own, and Cyril is looking for a job as a civil engineer. But when he gets an interview, he is rejected for lack of experience. Lucille is on the pill, but she suspects she may be pregnant. Nurse Crane sneaks a sample into the clinic to be tested: it’s positive.
Lucille is excited, as is Cyril when she tells him—but he’s also now even more concerned about finding a job. They decide to keep the news to themselves for a few weeks. Lucille tells Cyril that it’s okay to be worried; she is too, but they’ll get through it together.
Yvonne Cawder feels she must go it alone in her motherhood. Her twin sister Ivy has just had twins who are healthy and feed easily, while the fretful Yvonne is struggling with breastfeeding her own daughter. The girl cries through Trixie’s new mother class, and Yvonne admits afterward that getting the infant into a routine is proving difficult—but she rejects an offer of help.
When she is finally overwhelmed, she begs Trixie with tears to help her. Trixie immediately realizes Yvonne has mastitis, and treats her with antibiotics. Yvonne feels awful asking for aid, feeling that breastfeeding should be easy and come naturally—as it does for Ivy, who accidentally offends Yvonne when boasting of the ease she’s having with her twins.
Yvonne’s daughter is not getting enough nourishment, and Yvonne herself is exhausted. When her daughter begins crying as she prepares to take her out, she leaves her in her pram on the street outside her house and goes inside to huddle in bed. Trixie rushes over and chastises Yvonne, who says her daughter is safer away from her. Trixie goes to Sister Julienne, who manages to secure a spot at a residential post-natal clinic for Yvonne and her daughter—a place where she will have all the help she needs.
Trixie has also begun dating Matthew, although it doesn’t feel like there’s much romance, given that they have been friends already and that their dates so far have included Matthew’s son, as on a picnic where the boy got ice cream on Trixie’s dress. Hearing Trixie’s gripes, Nancy advises Matthew to get a babysitter and take Trixie on a real, glamorous date. He brings Trixie flowers and invites her to a swanky dinner.
Fred has a steak dinner on the line. He has purchased extra popsicles in anticipation of a heat wave that is not here, and he and Violet make a bet on whether he can sell all of them. Unfortunately, the store’s freezer is broken, so he and Reggie set out to give the popsicles away for free before they melt, including to Sister Monica Joan, who is wilting in the heat.
Fred has apparently won the bet: but when Violet makes the steak, she eats it instead. Monica Joan came to the shop to ask for another free popsicle, and Violet heard the whole story. She cooks Fred a steak anyway.
Sister Hilda attends the gathering for the circumcision of the Rosen son, and learns that the Rosens compromised on a name: their son has both a Hebrew name and an English one for everyday use. Hilda finds Sammy avoiding the gathering in his fur workshop, and he admits that he feels he doesn’t belong there, cut off as he is from his heritage. He never had a bar mitzvah, although he learned his Torah portion in the concentration camp. The rabbi who taught him there was killed at the same time as his father. Because of his cough, he worries that he himself is ill, but he desperately wants to be there for his son as he grows up.
Dr. Turner is still stumped by Sammy’s breathing problem, but a hospital specialist eventually discovers it is caused by his work with fur. The condition is treatable, but Sammy must stop working directly with fur. Luckily, Orli’s grandfather has always promised to make Sammy a manager, so he will still have a job.
Sister Hilda suggests that he might also try to move forward by finally having the bar mitzvah he couldn’t complete. He happily agrees. After the ceremony, he gives Hilda a small square of fine fox fur.