July 12, 2024
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July 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Remembering Our Neighbors

When we mention to people that we moved to the Teaneck area we often hear responses such as, “Oh, you are living in a very high-class neighborhood,” or “We could never live there; too much keeping up with the Joneses.” We have learned over the years that this warm and caring community is composed of very special people, many of whom are big baalei chesed. There are days when I am overwhelmed by the number of organizations that have been founded just since we moved here, such as “the food pantry on Thames,” the clothing exchange for children, the baby gemach, the Rinat Chaim gemach and more. Obviously these groups are servicing locals who can make great use of what they offer. Keep in mind that I said locals. Yes, there are people who come from outside the area but I am willing to bet that the majority of “users” are people in the areas surrounding where we live.

This became even more vivid to me during the past few days. My beloved Mordechai has lost quite a bit of weight and as a result had tons of dress shirts, sport shirts, coats, pants, etc., that are much too large for him. I decided to offer, on a TeaneckShuls post, free clothing for those who could make use of the particular size that we had available.

Within a few hours I was overwhelmed by the number of people who responded. On the one hand I was delighted to give the clothing to the first person who contacted me, yet on the other hand I became very sad at the number of people who could have made use of what we offered.

As I said, we are a community of givers.

My thoughts began to go further and I now wonder how many of us are really cognizant of who our neighbors are and what their needs might be. Are we sensitive enough to keep our eyes and ears open to slight innuendos that might tell us that people might not be doing as well as it appears on the outside? We are not in general speaking of those who buy their clothing at Goodwill or other second-hand clothing stores because they prefer to do so. Many in those cases do not have monetary problems, but love to cut to the chase in finding real second-hand bargains. I know of people who are quite financially comfortable and enjoy doing so. It is not easy to broach the subject with someone we might suspect is having difficulties, because never do we want to hurt them. Only the most sensitive among us can calmly approach such a situation.

Within the last year we welcomed new neighbors on one side of our home who are a hardworking Spanish family. Two families as well as a grandmother and one young child are living in a very small home. Although they are renting the home they have spent their own money and effort in trying to make it more livable. What amazes me about all of this is that we reached out to them because we wanted to be neighborly. They were so grateful and are always asking us if we need anything to be done. The father even helped us cut down a few branches from trees in our yard post-hurricane.

Slowly I am finding out what they do for a parnassa. The grandmother sells roasted peanuts on the streets of Manhattan four days a week. Winter is apparently the busiest season. She therefore stands there and freezes, I guess in the same manner that some of our great-grandparents or grandparents stood with their pushcarts on the streets of New York peddling their wares. One member of the family has a truck and tows cars long distances when he gets a call. He can also do moving jobs locally with his truck. Recently they told me that if I knew of anyone who needed cleaning help, two of the women were interested in working and have previous experience cleaning homes. I would like to help them, and if anyone needs these services please be in touch with me and I will direct you to them.

I would hope, especially in these crazy times, that we all make the effort to reach out to those around us. Whether they are Jewish or not is really irrelevant. We as observant Jews have an obligation to include everyone in our feelings of bein adam lechavero. There are times that we all become so engrossed in what is going on in our own personal lives that we neglect to notice what might be right in front of us (next door or up the street). We all clearly know what the right thing is to do, evident from all the acts of chesed, but sometimes we neglect to notice someone right nearby because it is easier to overlook than to address the issue. Let’s get better at this.


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. She can be reached at [email protected].

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