May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It is not with pleasure that we write this article. In fact, it hurts us to have to address the issue of the lack of derech eretz (good manners) shown to local storekeepers and their employees.

Twice we have been approached by people asking us to reproach what goes on locally amongst some of the patrons of our local stores.

Upon returning back to Teaneck from Rochester following a wonderful holiday we received a distraught telephone call about the behaviors of the “starving throngs of people” Motzei Shabbat after Pesach.

We all know that during the week of Pesach we eat “little food.” It is especially so on the first and last two days of the holiday. Only at least two full meals with several courses leave our appetites longing for more. Many, including my family snack on matzah pizza during the week and enjoy its novelty. No one is hungry and no one is craving food. Bingo!—the minute that Havdalah is chanted the local stomachs are calling out for only one thing: Pizza.

For those unaware, after a chag there are certain rules and restrictions, such as the chametz having to be repurchased, the ovens turned on, etc. All of these things take time. It seems that in our community, instant gratification applies to being fed as well. Lines were forming outside the local stores before there was enough time for them to open with merchandise to sell. Phones were off the hook in stores for those who were smart enough to place orders. Chaos was developing faster and faster.

A local store had a plan to make 100 pizzas as soon as the chag was over. There were no specialty pizzas to be made. Within a short period of time they had 50 telephone orders. As soon as they opened the doors, mayhem broke loose. Those with orders were able to get them, with those on line infuriated that they had to wait. We have checked with local non-kosher pizza stores to find out how long it takes them to make a pizza. Keeping in mind that their ovens are on, their dough is easily available to them, without having to make 100 pizzas suddenly, it takes at least 15 minutes for a pie. What oven can accommodate 50 pizzas at any time?

The manager of a store was screamed at, and one patron had the audacity to tell her that she was ugly. She could not stop crying and called her boss to tell him that she cannot go on with this type of behavior. Two other employees shared her point of view and were outraged at the rude and volatile behaviors of the local consumers. One of the members of our community was so embarrassed by the behavior and disrespect she observed that she has returned each day this week to reassure the manager of the store that this had nothing to do with her. In an interview, the female manager shared that when people come into the store she would prefer to treat them as she would someone coming into her own home, but rarely is she able to do that. We found it comical that she thought that Jews do not eat on Friday night and Saturday during the day, as she mentioned that when they enter the store on Motzei Shabbat their appetites are voracious and they have absolutely no patience to wait to be served. She was shocked to learn that we do eat on our Sabbath.

Another local retail establishment has lamented many times of behaviors exhibited by frum members of our community while in the store, that he would never have believed had he not observed them himself. Customers give their children toys to play with and books to read while sitting in strollers, and then leave them around the store before they are ready to check out. Pre-sealed packages are opened and then returned to the shelves, minus the packaging. Returns are requested without receipts, and in many cases the items have been used. Bathrooms are used as changing stations for babies without any concern but to get rid of the smell as quickly as possible. Dirty diapers are left on shelves and in bathrooms. Children being toilet trained who miss the toilet are leaving their near misses all over the floors of the bathroom, without any concern by the parent to clean it up for the next patron. An entire stock of one item was purchased (24 of them) prior to Pesach. Two weeks later, 22 of them were returned to the store, denying other shoppers the ability to purchase them. It was later determined that the buyer tried selling them on eBay and only succeeded in selling two.

What shall we say? We thought that we as a people represent what mitzvot bein adam lechavero are all about. We should stand for something better. Rudeness and impatience, insulting comments and lack of respect for people’s property should not have a place in any of our lives. We would hope that the minute we arise in the morning and chant Modeh Ani we assume the responsibility of being in a better place and on a higher plane than those who do not share our beautiful Torah. It seems as though a reminder is necessary every once in a while, and we will continue to do so as we see fit.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected].

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