May 27, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

First Restaurants, Now Shuls

Lichvod Harav Mordechai Glick v’ra’yaso, Nina.

I take great pleasure in reading your columns in The Jewish Link.

Your recent article about “embarrassed” hit a note (“Are We Not Embarrassed,” April 19, 2018).

Although I have not witnessed such rudeness, I am only too aware of a related problem that I have noted in my shul going back many years.

Congregants are not friendly to each other. It is rare that a chazan or shaliach tzibbur or korei ba’Torah or person who got an aliya will get two handshakes or even one handshake and a yasher koach. When the men come out of shul on Shabbos, besides saying “good Shabbos” to a friend or two (if they have one), they wouldn’t, chas v’shalom, say that to a fellow congregant even if they are staring at each other.

But even the staring is rare since so many walk out looking straight ahead—so that they shouldn’t, chas v’shalom, look at the person facing them who is walking in the opposite direction.

Many men walking in the street on Shabbos in opposite directions going to or coming home from shul don’t bother to make eye contact; they treat each other like complete strangers in a NYC subway.

I assume these good people are medakdek about many mitzvot, but what about bein adam l’adam? In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Masya ben Cheresh says: “Be the first to great every person” (Avot 4:20), and Shammai said: “Greet every person with a pleasant demeanor” (Avot 1:15).

What can be done about this?

I recognized this problem when I first moved to Teaneck many years ago, and published an article on this subject in the shul bulletin when the congregation was quite small and certainly at that time should have been intimate.

I am told that my shul is not the only one with this problem. L’hitraot!

Reuben E. Gross, PhD

Teaneck

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