April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the first things that I noticed when we moved back to the US is how different it is to live in a community where most of the residents would not consider living “out of town.” I laughed when people talked of Monsey being “upstate” and cringed when people would not consider certain shidduchim for their children because it meant that their precious daughters (in most cases) would have to move out of town.

I had the privilege and honor of spending the past Shabbat in Norfolk, Virginia, where my grandson Shlomo Eisenberg recently became the rav of B’nai Israel Congregation, a large Orthodox shul.

What warmed my heart is that the Norfolk Kollel davens at the shul, the Yeshiva davens at the shul and many congregants from different walks of life daven there as well. As you might know, Norfolk is a big Navy town with a huge Naval base downtown. It is the world’s largest naval station. No, no one saluted me when I walked into shul, but one is certainly able to meet an interesting mix of people from many different backgrounds.

I wish I would have been allowed to use a tape recorder on Shabbat as so many people came over to me to describe their happiness with their new rav and his rebbetzin, Liba. As one person told me, “In the short time that they have been here they have changed the community.” Another said, “We waited one year to hire a rabbi because we had a checklist and this young man filled each box on the list.” So, was it a good experience for me? I would say so.

More about the community. Guess what? There are no kosher restaurants in Norfolk. There is a frozen yogurt store under hashgacha. Twenty minutes away in Virginia Beach is a Cinnaholic and perhaps one other place under hashgacha. Everyone cooks and bakes!

There is a day school, a yeshiva, a kollel and a huge blend of people. I got to meet a sampling of them at the Shabbat meals, which are typical of my kids hosting each Shabbat.

An example would be a young woman, a guest at Shlomo and Liba’s house for Shabbat lunch, who is a military nurse and will be shipped out shortly to no one knows where. No joke, she is shomeret Shabbat. Another guest is an aeronautical engineer who, believe it or not, went to Bais Yaakov in Boro Park and now has a PhD and chose to live in Norfolk and work there for the Navy (She needs a shidduch and is 30!).

William and Mary College, the second oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, offers many different programs of higher learning. They have an active Hillel on campus and as a result Shlomo and Liba frequently have students for Shabbat meals. I had the pleasure of meeting four of them at Shabbat lunch. One student, from Omaha, Nebraska, is one of 11 children and grew up Orthodox (We were all kind of surprised).

Another wants to come to New York and see neighborhoods such as Boro Park (of all places), which I, the committed out of towner, have agreed to take her to.

The neighborhood where Shlomo and Liba live is beautiful and, since their home is on a cul de sac, the kids roam freely and are out all day playing with friends. There are many young religious families living there. One or two even grew up there and imported spouses, and others chose to come there and live an “out of town” lifestyle.

What I mostly appreciate is the blending of different types of people enjoying each other’s company and accepting their differences.

Again, I am not going to convince anyone to move out of town, but I have to say that it brings me great pride to have children living such a beautiful life without the materialism and competition that many in our communities suffer from. Next time someone suggests an out of towner for one of your children, perhaps you should reconsider!


Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected].

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