July 25, 2024
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July 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It is definitely a challenge to make friends when you move to a new community. Wherever you go you are in the position where whomever you speak with knows very little about you and can only superficially take the time to chatter with you because there are usually much more familiar faces around that they can speak with more comfortably. We remember the same challenge faced us when we moved to Montreal. The obviously easier reason to befriend people there was first and foremost our age. We were able to meet people through our very young children. With Mordechai as the Rav of a shul, we were very visible to many people immediately and we were anxious at that time to reach out to others.

The funniest example of that was when we went to see a genetic counselor when our daughter Naama was about 1 ½ years old. The doctor that we saw was very kind, caring, friendly and helpful. (Cerebral palsy is not a genetic disorder.) After leaving his office Mordechai felt twe should have invited him to our home for coffee. Nina felt extremely uncomfortable going to a physician’s office for a consultation and then saying “Hey, why not get together?”

The subject was dropped once we left his office. Lo and behold this particular doctor, Dr Leonard Pinsky and his wife Merrille showed up at our shul for a family Bar Mitzvah several weeks later. We spoke and she suggested that we get together. I was shocked and assumed that she would not call us, yet a few days later Nina received a call inviting us to their home for coffee.

Mordechai voiced his concern that they wouldn’t realize that we were kosher and Nina felt that was absurd as they had just attended a bar mitzvah in an Orthodox shul where the Rav was obviously Orthodox. How could they not know that we required kosher food? We arrived at their home and first they served drinks and fruit–whew–no problem. Slightly later in the evening she suggested that we go into the dining room for coffee. It is necessary at this point to explain that Montreal is a city with many, many Shomer Shabbat bakeries. In some areas it is hard to pass a street where there isn’t one. As we sat down at the table, Merrille announced that she had baked her famous banana cake. For those of you that might be interested Nina’s leg is still bruised where her husband kicked her at that moment as if to say “I told you so.”

Of course, it was Nina’s role to announce to her that we were terribly sorry that we only ate home baked goods in the homes of those that were Shomer Shabbat. Our dear friends are both physicians, they knew about the laws of kashrut growing up in the city of Montreal. They knew not to have butter or milk with meat and used two sets of dishes, but bought their meat in the treyf department of the supermarket.

Our friendship with the Pinsky’s blossomed into a warm, loving and caring relationship that still binds us together. They bought a special barbeque for our family–we had our own utensils–they would bring in a caterer so that we could occasionally eat at their house. Every chag that allowed driving found them with their children in our home.

Chances of making friendships like that again are not possible once your children have grown. It has been heartwarming to us that a number of couples in town have reached out to us. We don’t worry about banana cake. Recently we found a new “modus operandi” for meeting people. It’s called walking on Shabbos and stopping people to ask directions. Two weeks ago we were kindly invited to new friends who live on Fayette. We thought that we knew where that was until we began to walk. Several times we would stop other walkers who were scurrying along and explain that we were “new in the neighborhood” and could they please tell us how to get to Fayette Street. The response was always the same: “Oh welcome to Teaneck. Where are you from?” “Why did you move?” “Where do you live?”

Friendly, kind voices were like music to our ears. Shortly thereafter something special happened. We were sitting in a restaurant on the Sunday night following our walk on Shabbos and one of the couples who gave us directions came over and greeted us and were so nice and friendly (we think it was the Sterns). Now we know that if you want to meet more and more people or if you want to increase your friendship circle–take a walk on Shabbos outside of the immediate area where you live. Smiling and friendly faces are waiting for you!

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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