May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We are not speaking of any old “road.” As you might guess we are speaking of Highgate Terrace, the infamous street in Bergenfield all of two blocks long. One street from New Bridge to Westminster Gate is totally paved and the other block between Westminster Gate and Churchill continues to be the most talked-about eyesore. No car is able to drive down the street without taking the chance of breaking their shock absorbers, or getting a flat tire from the many potholes. Pedestrians continue to take the risk of breaking their bones as they walk along the street. We have been told of one lady who no longer goes to Beth Abraham because she would have to walk down Highgate from her home and she has already broken her leg there once. We will refrain from discussing the calamity of the wheelchair situation for anyone who uses one on Highgate. We’ve already written about it at length. Suffice it to say that no wheelchair is safe on that street.

After the outpouring of over one thousand reactions to our column we decided to present our case before the Bergenfield Town Council. On September 1 we attended, armed with a packet to be distributed to each Town Council member. In this packet was a copy of our original article, the article which followed it a week later with a description from the town of Bergenfield of what they have done and what is being proposed to be done, as well as a letter which Eliza Skocylas wrote to the mayor and his Council more than seven months ago, explaining to them the urgency of having the street paved.

As is the case at Council meetings, bystanders sitting around the session are asked if they would like to make any comments after they have concluded with the Council business at hand.

Nina proceeded to place the packets on the table in front of the council members and then spoke to them about what it meant to be a Good Samaritan. She spoke at length of the tragedy that had taken place after a “good samaritan” had stopped to help someone from the goodness of his heart. She passionately talked of the need to do something about this street immediately. Not one member of the council said anything in response. We are not sure if it was the mayor or someone else who finally said that this was the first time that they had heard the story of a “Good Samaritan” living on the street.

As we were leaving, Corey Gallo, the Borough Administrator, walked us out as he tried to explain that this is a very big job that will take time to get done. The entire street will need to be rebuilt—it is just not a matter of repaving, he said. One of the most amazing comments made to us as we were leaving was that a representative of the city had already spoken with Moshe Skocylas at least two years ago. When I reminded the gentleman that the accident had taken place less than one and a half years ago, he blamed his bad memory.

The bottom line is that we believe that the street will be done maybe in two years. It was a disheartening and thoroughly demeaning experience to attend that meeting.

We left there saying to ourselves how different things would be if this horrible incident had taken place in Israel. Immediately, communities would go out of their way to make sure that every possible convenience could be made for an accident victim. We personally know of such a case and there was no such thing as procrastinating. Interestingly, we, especially those of us who daven at Congregation Beth Abraham, have been devastated by the accident which took place on Rosh Hashanah in which the crossing guard, Jo Ann Hans, was struck by a vehicle as she was attempting to stop traffic so that people could cross the busy corner of Westminster and New Bridge Road. Jo Ann was severely injured. An outpouring of support for Jo Ann from the Beth Abraham community has taken place. People are being asked not to disturb the family at this time, and everyone is waiting in line so that they might have a turn in doing a chesed for this brave lady. There will be no waiting for two years if she needs something. We, acting as we were brought up and trained, know what it means to show appreciation and offer support to whoever needs it. It is unfortunate that the members of the Bergenfield Town Council did not have the same upbringing.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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