July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As is the case with most things in life we frequently take so much for granted. How many of us drive down a street and think about why the street looks so clean and how it got that way?

Our son is presently driving through Iowa and he has expressed amazement at the wide open spaces surrounding so many of the roads on which he is driving. Chances are that the people who live in rural Iowa don’t even give a second thought to the expanse of wide open spaces with which they are blessed.

On Monday evening we were privileged to be invited to the Teaneck City Council installation of elected officials by Elie Katz, who was re-elected deputy mayor I by the council. Needless to say, the temperature was way up there. Our car told us it was 94 degrees at 9 p.m. The evening’s steamy temperatures were only matched by the warmth and camaraderie of the elected officials, invited guests and citizens of Teaneck. Mayors representing Alpine, Fort Lee, Hoboken, Jersey City and Mahwah were present. Senator Bob Menendez graced the group, as did Rep. Josh Gottheimer. There were many other dignitaries present, but what was most impressive to us was the overall message emphasized by each speaker. The word most commonly used was diversity.

How many communities can boast they have a mayor who is Muslim, three council members who are shomer Shabbat, two council members from the African-American community and another of the Catholic faith? Isn’t that amazing? We are totally impressed, and sorry that this combination doesn’t exist in more communities.

Councilman Keith Kaplan, when called upon to speak, mentioned how just 50 years ago his grandfather received his citizenship to the United States. Councilman Mark Schwartz also noted his father, who escaped Hungary in 1956 during the revolution. What a wonderful experience for a Holocaust survivor who never would have dreamed he would be standing before a large group watching his son be installed as second deputy mayor of Teaneck. A good friend of Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, Ravi Bhalla, spoke of the almost impossible reality that he, a Sikh, is now the mayor of Hoboken. He credits Hameeduddin with encouraging him to make the plunge into local politics. If this is not diversity, what is?

Coming from Quebec, where outside of Montreal language is a large divisive factor, it is heartwarming for us to see how wonderfully the various ethnic groups are able to work so well together here. Where we come from, ridiculous language laws that do nothing but spew the flames of mistrust, further encourage dislike and animosity. In Quebec a person has the right to complain if a business he contacted over the phone greets the caller in English. Fines are imposed on such companies.

The influx of Sephardim in Montreal greatly changed the landscape for the Jewish community. Customs now are readily respected and in some instances shared. Actually, when we think about it, we know that the gastronome of the Ashkenazi community has now adopted many of the Sephardi tastes.

However, the diversity, and in some cases animosity, that exists between the English and French communities in Quebec would have much to gain by observing a community such as Teaneck. To have a common goal of maintaining a prosperous, safe and beautiful environment in which to live together is indeed powerful. The ethnicities of this city blend together in a way most probably don’t notice unless it is brought to their attention. We hope that those who live in this community step back and note how fortunate they are. At a time when most give it little or no thought, recognition should be given to the hard work the local elected officials do on a regular basis. Most is done without any fanfare, so we offer a big shout-out to them. We are grateful to be part of such an impressive community. (Yes, we live in Bergenfield, but come on!)

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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