During the past two years we have had to explain many times to people why it is that we moved back to the USA if living in Montreal was really as wonderful as we describe it. We talk about missing the camaraderie of friends, our shteibel minyan, Ahavat Yisroel—better known as Glick’s Minyan, the many restaurants, the delicious bakeries, the amazing Moroccan salads and pastries that we ate on a regular basis and the multi-cultural society that we were a large part of.
We have lamented about the fact that in the Teaneck-Bergenfield-New Milford communities everyone seems to be so similar. Rarely do we see families interacting with those who are not on the same page as them religiously, and the idea of kiruv seems to arise primarily when there is a specific Shabbat put aside for it and at no other time.
With much pain we will finally divulge why this move had to take place. Please bear with us as we bare our souls. It all began one day several years ago when our tax forms arrived in the mail completely in French and we answered oui to all of the questions that were asked assuming that was the easiest thing to do. We did not know that one of the questions that we answered oui to was asking if either of us had ever been arrested for carrying fire arms. (How were we to know?) We also answered oui to the question about our financial contributions to terrorist organizations. Obviously we had no idea what organization terroriste meant and we actually thought they were referring to the tourism industry, which Nina was a part of for many years. Perhaps the piece de resistance was the question that used the word trompe and instantly we answered oui. We thought that they were referring to musical instruments—in this case whether or not we had ever used trumpets; Nina had been in her high school orchestra. Little did we know that they were asking us if we had cheated on our last income tax statement.
That was it—several weeks later we received visitors from the Agency de Revenu Quebec. They had several questions for us. We asked them repeatedly if they would be good enough to explain their concerns to us in English, but the Office de la Langue Francaise had told on us. They reported that we only spoke English to Mr. Klein in Kosher Quality Bakery. That in itself was a crime committed. They made our life miserable. We were followed frequently by one of those little yellow plows usually used only for snow removal on the sidewalks. Every time we walked into someone’s house they had clandestinely imprinted a chip on us watching if we took our shoes off. (No one wears shoes in homes in Montreal.) We were reported to have eaten kosher poutine at Pizza Pita—not allowed since it did not have bacon in it.
It all became too much for us to handle. Most things maybe we could have dealt with but the poutine was really pushing it.
Now you know the truth—we had had it with the bureaucracy of Quebec. We didn’t want to reveal these facts but feel that perhaps now it might be easier for all of you to understand our move and to stop wondering why we did it.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick