I am no stranger to the complex laws and customs of Orthodox living, but it wasn’t until I became a realtor that I realized how some of these laws and customs can impact a home buyer’s perspective.
How many times have I been at a showing that seemed to be going really well, only to have it thwarted by a most interesting predicament. The father-in-law turns to his daughter in law and says, “But where will you put the sukkah?!?” In my head I would roll my eyes and think, “My God, it’s seven, eight days of the whole year at most. Are you really not going to buy this house because there is too much shade coming from the tree in your neighbor’s yard?”
But, of course, I realize with a sinking heart, that the branches of a live tree connected to the ground that are hanging over one’s sukkah, invalidate the kosher status of that sukkah i.e., it’s supposed to be the “cut off branches” (s’chach—reminiscent of Gd’s protection of the Jews wandering in the desert) that creates the shade to the exclusion of anything else.
Beyond that scenario, I’ve had customers pass over (pun intended) a house because they felt there wasn’t sufficient space in the formal dining room to host the yearly Passover Seder that usually draws upwards of 25 family members … That’s only two nights of the whole year!
There’s one family I worked with who found a home they were interested in purchasing but before they would sign the contract hired an aquatics and landscaping engineer to perform a feasibility study for a koi pond in the backyard, insisting that it was vital to their decision. You see, in their last home, they lived near a local pond and recalled everyone congregating near their house on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah.The family really loved the Tashlich tradition they experienced before moving from their old neighborhood and they wanted the ability to recreate those moments in their new home.
Upon reflection, there seems to be one driving force behind all of these seemingly unusual decisions—the overarching desire to create and experience “special moments.” Perhaps these buyers’ intentions are not as odd as my initial reactions would make them seem.
After all, what is life about if not to create these special moments with family, community and those we love? I know many families (my own included) who will wait an entire year to see the whole family congregate around the Pesach table. These past years have only intensified our commitment to keep our families together and if a sukkah, a Pesach table and a beautifully landscaped koi pond are what helps create those bonds, who am I to question?
Shanna Tovah—It should be a year of family and community gatherings in good health!!
Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and Owner of V and N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Ave, Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.