May 29, 2024
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It was very disturbing to our children if we didn’t have company for Shabbos. It became the norm to always have people from the community or perfect strangers for a Shabbos meal. Probably because of our involvement in YU Seminars and NCSY kiruv was in our blood. Mordechai’s first rabbinical role in Montreal was at a Young Israel in a suburb of the city. Out of town, the Young Israel movement didn’t mean that the baalabatim were observant. It meant that the Rav was frum. To the majority of the members of our shul lighting candles on Friday night in many cases was their concession to Shabbos. Some said Kiddush as they watched the Canadiens wipe out the Rangers (sorry NY’ers). Nevertheless without a doubt every one of our baalabatim became a part of our family. They came for Shabbos meals and then went off to do their shopping or their children went onto their skating lessons, hockey schedules and all kinds of other sundry things. It seemed so normal for us to have so many different kinds of people from various backgrounds in our home. Our children always knew that no matter what a person did he was to be respected. Whether or not he wore tzitzit, yarmulke, cut-off jeans and sleeveless attire. One day Nina went to have a haircut and the lady in the beauty parlor asked her how many days she would be taking off for yom tov that year. It was exactly as it is this year–three day chagim so many weeks in a row. The lady then proceeded to tell Nina about the manager of the Salon who was becoming Jewish and was going to be taking off all of these days. When Nina went to speak with her welcoming her to be a “prospective member of the club” the woman told her that she has a problem because the Beit Din was short of families that would consider mentoring such a person. She was on a waiting list to be paired with a family. Nina immediately without knowing anything about her invited her to join our family, explaining that her husband was a Rav and Tanya soon became a member of our family. She lived with us for one year every Shabbas and Yom Tov and to this day she knows that Nina is her Jewish mother. Her actual mother is Irish and her father is Italian. People asked us how we could just allow a stranger into our home and it was shocking to us that the question was necessary.

After being in Montreal for nine years we moved to a new part of the city, Cote St Luc and were able to purchase a home that was on a new street. There was only one other Shomer Shabbos family on a street of about 15 homes. However with the exception of two families everyone was Jewish. Within no time we were busy hosting our neighbors for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. Eating in our Sukkah was an adventure for all of them–especially in Montreal with the possibility of snowflakes in your soup. The alternative is bees in your face.

Our neighbors when told that an Orthodox rabbi was moving into the house directly next to them were in a state of hyperventilating every time they thought about it. Today Ed and Roz are amongst our closest friends–Mordechai officiated at both of their children’s weddings and the fact that they are not observant never came into the formula of whether or not we could maintain a close relationship with them.

After visiting with a genetic counselor several months after our daughter Naama was diagnosed with cerebral palsy we decided that if were to choose a friend we would love to invite this man (the doctor we met with) for a coffee or a meal. It took Nina a lot of convincing to explain to her dear husband that you don’t invite a physician that you see professionally once, to come over for a coffee. Lo and behold several weeks later the doctor and his wife were guests of a Bar Mitzvah taking place in our own Young Israel of Val Royal. At that time we had the opportunity to talk and then to invite them to get together. They became one of our closest friends in all of the years in Montreal. We joked that they would come to our home to eat and we could join them to drink or have fruit. Eventually they bought a barbeque which they kept for our visits with our children and it had a separate set of utensils so that we could come and eat outside with them. Many times our friend Merrille would have dinners catered so that we could eat at their house. Never did it occur to us or our children that because they were not observant we could not be friends with them.

Here we are at the exciting prospect of seeing our community participate in the Shabbos Project. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it there is a fantastic video which you can pick up on YouTube showing the original Shabbos Project which took place in South Africa. The idea is to try to find as many unaffiliated people as possible and invite them to experience a Shabbat. We have been bothered by the fact that in Teaneck because the community is so similar we know of few occasions where people are reaching out to the unaffiliated. When we needed to have our garage door fixed and an Israeli was recommended to do the job we realized that he was completely chiloni. We knew nothing about him and immediately invited him for a Shabbat meal. He was astounded. He works primarily for people in this community and no one had every approached him. We see Jewish people working in so many of the stores in this area who are not observant. We all know of at least one. Now is the time to rethink your invitation policy. Open your homes. It will only do good for your children if you are able to explain things to them on their level appropriately. As observant Jews we have so much to share.

The Shabbos Project is coming to this community October 23–24th–25th. Thursday night will be a communal challah baking event. Don’t give up the opportunity to give of yourself and you will find that you will receive so much back in return. Next time you meet someone that you casually talk to in one of the local stores, or someone that you know at work who is not Sabbath observant, or one of your children’s teachers who is not Shomer Shabbat THIS THE CHANCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You will feel great.

By Mordechai & Nina Glick

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