April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We as a community, or perhaps it makes more sense to say that people in general, often seek to lay blame when they hear bad news. If a person who smoked a pack a day for 20 years passes away, everyone says, “He was a smoker.” When a child is having difficulty in school, how often do parents blame the teacher? Children lacking friends? It is the “fault of the other kids.” However, there comes a time in life when we need to accept responsibility for actions over which we have control.

The horrible tragedy that occurred this past week in Teaneck that took the life of a revered husband, father, grandfather and friend and horrendously injured a man known for his acts of kindness and sincerity has shocked the community. We are a community in mourning.

Despite our collective grief, immediately there were postings online pleading for people to wear reflective sashes at all times. But really, is there anyone who does not know that these safeguards are necessary? Every single week Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger writes a reminder in the Beth Abraham newsletter to wear reflective sashes. Anyone who drives by as men are scurrying to shul for Mincha/Maariv during the week can vouch for the fact that it is impossible to see them, as not one is wearing a sash. They are used more often on Shabbat, but even then it seems that most people do not wear them.

Honestly, though, the blame does not belong with those who are not wearing the sashes, nor does it necessarily belong with the drivers who cannot see them. In the face of this tragedy and others that have happened in the past, it is clear that the fault lies with the towns, cities and counties we live in for not recognizing that the streets are too dark for anyone to be seen while walking. We have discussed this time and time again in our column. We have mentioned that we should not have to wait for a tragedy to occur for the county and the towns to start to light up our streets. Sadly, that tragedy has befallen us.

One can be the best and most careful driver, or wearing reflective sashes at all times, and it will make no difference as long as the streets around us remain as dark as they are.

Yes, it is important that our families wear reflective clothing, but we think it is more important for our communities to urge their elected officials to make lighting up our streets a priority. We as Jews have been known to get much done when we put in the effort. From way back, when we marched on the Russian embassy to allow dissidents to leave the Soviet Union, or when Jews marched for Selma, Alabama, or in dozens of other protests, we accomplished something important.

This time, it has hit closer to home. We are talking about what is going on in our very own backyard.

This time, we must take a lesson from the tragedy that befell our community. Our streets must be better lit. The current situation is too unsafe.

This time, we must make our towns and county sit up and take notice.

What can we do? Let us sound our voices and begin our protests in order to ensure that the tragedy that just occurred will never happen again.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

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