Saturday, January 22, 2022

To the Editor:

Kudos many times over to Rabbi Dr. Mordechai and Nina Glick for their always heartfelt and deeply considered thoughts as penned for these pages. I was especially moved by their two pieces in the March 6 issue. Firstly, was the point made by Rabbi Glick in his retrospective on the issues that presented at their wedding concerning a Conservative rabbi co-officiating with his Orthodox counterpart. That the Bostoner Rebbe zt”l , who was their mesader kiddushin, so graciously agreed to involve the bride’s family rabbi demonstrates untold wisdom and sensitivity on his part—not to mention the art of the possible.

It illustrates, writ large, an ability to appreciate what truly is an issue in halacha and how to separate fact from fiction. The battle cry so sadly and too often heard against working with non-Orthodox rabbis in life cycle events where and when all halachic standards and measures are maintained, and the attending claim that such a partnership ultimately affirms ideals and practices outside of the halachic realm is a verbal fig leaf. It covers and adheres to little if any legitimate concerns. Throughout more than two decades in the Rabbinate I have had many opportunities to invite rabbis from other movements to join me in my officiating at life cycle events. Clearly it has always been my role and responsibility in those instances to preside over and guarantee that halachic process and procedure is followed. But the friendships that have been made and the greater sense of awareness and understanding that develops among colleagues, along with the outreach to the involved, diverse parts of the community has been immeasurable.

We do ourselves a grave disservice when we overreach with unnecessary boundaries. Bleeding them in the right way creates useful and sincere “dibuk chaveirim’ that can only help to reduce the acrimony that might otherwise surface in more difficult areas of intra-communal debate. The Rebbe’s keen ‘teviat ayin’ and ‘seichal hayashor’ should be a lesson to all.

In their shared piece on “Dreams and Milestones” they remind us of the need to ‘dare to dream and do” and to live without regrets. Failure is not a lifetime sentence but rather a dip along the way, in a life’s journey placed not on velvet but rather uneven ground, and played out in real time. Thank you Rabbi Mordechai and Nina for the way you teach and guide your readers.

Rabbi Lawrence S. Zierler

Jewish Center of Teaneck

To the Editor:

Thank you for including the article about Shearit HaPlate of Bergen County (“SHPBC”) in last week’s edition of the Jewish Link. Unfortunately, included in the article were some inaccuracies about the organization as well as some information included about our annual post Purim food drive that requires updating.

Although officially designated as a not-for-profit organization in 2009, SHPBC was founded by several members of Congregation Beth Aaron in 2005 after learning of and being inspired by the efforts of Mr. Benny Wechsler who rescues food in the New York region. Backed by our diverse, committed, tireless and amazing volunteers, leftover food is rescued and collected from the many establishments named in the article as well as others like Grand and Essex and Teaneck Road Hot Bagels. The food is then repackaged locally and picked up daily (except for Shabbos), often within 24hours of original receipt, by individuals and families that live in Teaneck and surrounding communities. This is done in a respectful way to help protect, ensure, and preserve the dignity, respect, and privacy of our recipients. Although early o, my wife and I were significantly involved in the collection and rescue of the food, this part of the process is now overseen and personally led by Mr. Daniel Chazin. Danny, together with Mrs. Fern Amper, Mrs. Susan Fisch, and other dedicated volunteers who are too numerous to name, enable our goal of minimizing the waste of food in our community while simultaneously helping those in need. Our community is catching on and responding.

This is clearly visible during this time of year. For the last nine years, SHPBC has run an annual post Purim food drive collecting non-perishable food and distributing it to local food pantries and organizations/programs like Tomorrow’s Children, Support a Soldier, and Good Deeds Day run by the UJA of Northern New Jersey. Throughout the years we have seen a significant reduction in the amount of food collected during our drive. I believe this is a direct result of the efforts of other worthwhile organizations who highlight the mitzvah of Matanot L’evyonim as well as the overall increased awareness of minimizing wastefulness.

As reported, SHPBC’s post-Purim annual food drive, run by Yoni Lieber, will be collecting food through March 27th. Unfortunately, the drop-off locations listed in last week’s article were not complete and accurate. Non-perishable unopened kosher food can be dropped off directly at the pod located at 1212 Kensington Road through March 27th. Several shuls in our area will be participating in this drive so please consult your shul announcements for specific information. If you or your local shul is interested in participating as a drop off location or volunteer, or to learn more about our organization, please contact us at [email protected], call us at 225-don8-fud or visit our website at www.shpbc.org.

Thank you again for publicizing our very important mission.

Josh Klavan, President

Shearit HaPlate of Bergen County, Inc.

To the Editor:

Let me first identify myself. I am not a right-wing zealot. I am your basic kippah srugah guy who has been going to shul for more than fifty years in the metropolitan area. I try to be at minyan three times a day and have davened at a variety of different shuls throughout the metropolitan area.

As far as I am concerned, there is no question in my mind that the increase of smartphone use in shul we are now experiencing is the worst chillul Hashem in Jewish history. Of course there have been numerous other events in history that you can focus on, but all of those were imposed by others. This chillul Hahem is based purely a decision by the person with the phone—who totally disregards the Boreh Olam or others who are davening. Davening is the time to connect to Hashem—not WIFI!!

Allow me to make my point. If you were driving your car and a cop was driving next to you would you be texting? If you went on job interview would you be checking your smartphone during the interview? If you had a meeting with your employer or President of the company, would you keep your phone on vibrate so you can check your phone at any moment?

Any person who answered these questions honestly would be sure not to use their smartphone for any reason during any of those events.

Yet when it comes to davening to Hashem, we don’t seem to care where we are. Hashem is just not that important to us when, in fact, He deserves our undivided attention. It ridiculous to see guys who hide their phones during davening as if no one can see. Obviously that person doesn’t even know he is in shul.

Mostly everyone has been on an airplane. These trips can take from an hour up to many hours. Would anyone think of disobeying airline personnel when they insist on all smartphones being shut off? Yet a 45-minute Shachris,15-minute mincha, 20-minute maariv are just too long be without use of the phone.

Have we lost all sense of kovod?

Some will say they need a smartphone to daven better. There is no doubt that that the use of smartphones during davening will lead to doing other things totally unrelated to davening—which again contributes to chilul Hashem.

Korach wanted to know if you need a mezuzah on the door of a room that is full of seforim. The question is do you need a smart phone when you have a shul or beis medrash full of siddurim? We all know what happened to Korach. Is that the type of impression we want to give Hakodesh Baruchu? That we call the shots regardless what the end results are?

To my mind the most unfortunate part of this chilul Hashem is the lack of leadership from the Rabbanim of the shul or Beis Medrash. Yes, there are announcements prior to davening, and there are signs posted in many shuls. But that is not enough. It is time a Rav or Gabbai to think about how insulting this is for the Borah Olam and stop the minyan immediately when he sees a smartphone being used. Sadly however smartphones are now used by people who should know better—so there is no action being taken at all. It is hard to believe that we are now at the point that when a phone starts ringing during davening it gets virtually no reaction, except maybe a shrug of the shoulders. If the leader of a shul or minyan takes no action, then as far as I am concerned, shetka kehhodah.

The phones should be totally off—keeping them on vibrate is not an option. Anyone who uses a smartphone during davening should be approached secretly and be told to avoid future embarrassment, to stop using the phone immediately.

Rav Avraham Yisrael Glick z’l of Bnai Brak disconnected his “call waiting” on his home phone because he did not want a beeping sound to disturb the conversation he was having. Yet people can be davening, and suddenly their phones are vibrating in their pockets. Be honest. Where is your concentration now?

The halacha is that one should not walk in front of someone who is davening Shmonei Esreh as you are walking between the one who is davening and Hakodesh Boruchu. Nothing should disturb that conversation. And yet a vibrating phone is worse.

What kind of chinuch do we provide for our children when they see their fathers or Rabbis checking their phones during davening? It seems Chazoras Hashatz is the time to read e-mails, check messages and text. When in Jewish history have we seen such deterioration , such chilul Hashem?

What do you think the Boreh Olam is thinking when he looks down and sees how disrespectfully He is being treated, when in the past he used to get our undivided attention.

No doubt there will be people who read this article and will not pay much attention and continue using smartphones during davening. If you are one of those inconsiderate people, consider this. In the state of NY you are heavily fined for texting while driving. In addition you get five points on your license. What do you think your fine will be and how many “points” do you think you will have in the Olam haEmet for using a smartphone during davening?

Hashem deserves better. Hashem expects better. Hashem needs our tefilos to come from our hearts without interference. Let’s start now before it’s too late for the people who are disrespecting Hashem or for the shuls that allow it to continue. We lost the battle of talking in shul a long time ago, let’s not add to the chilul Hashem by adding insult to injury.

Rabbis, Gabbaim, shul administrators should lead by example. Bring kiddusha back your shul. Think of the nachas Hashem will have when he looks down on your minyan and sees He is getting the full undivided attention he deserves.

Name Withheld Upon Request

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