May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Many years ago when we were choosing a nursery school for our son Akiva, we approached the Chabad school in Montreal because their school hours worked into our schedules well.

They told us that they have two classes—one for “yenem”—a Yiddish word meaning “the other,” which in Montreal at the time meant Sephardi kids who in many cases came from families that were not totally Shomer Shabbat. They had another class for “unsere” the Yiddish word for “ours,” the children from Lubavitch families. They decided that we could pass the test and would put Akiva in the class with unsere!

This was an attitude we had never experienced until we arrived in Montreal. Having come from YU and being so deeply committed to Torah Leadership Seminar and NCSY, it was difficult for us to comprehend. We found the same attitude in the Yeshivish community where they took pride in the fact they only accepted children from totally shomer mitzvoth homes.

Although it is possible that these attitudes have eased up a bit, we still do see them in other ways.

One obvious example is how those in the Yeshiva world look at those outside of it.

For instance, while attending a sheva brachot in Passaic, a friend mentioned that children on his street refer to Jewish people who are not frum as goyim. We see frequently the manifestation of this in how people address others. One would never call (in the Yeshiva community) a Rav simply by his last name. In other words—one would not call the Bostoner Rebbe “Horowitz.” They would make sure to instill the proper title on him. Whereas last week we came upon people who we know well referring to their most esteemed and well-known doctors—Eisenberg, Portnoy—never with a Dr. prior to their name. There is a certain element of a lack of self-respect. It seems to be much more prevalent in the religious community.

We had the occasion to see the movie Felix and Meira recently in Montreal. It was filmed in Montreal and was first shown at the San Sebastien Film Festival. It is a respectfully produced movie about a young Chassidic woman who pines to experience a more worldly existence. She slowly develops a friendship/relationship with a French Canadian man. This movie was produced in good taste. When I mentioned to a friend who is very much enclaved in the Yeshiva community that we had seen it, her first reaction was that the “frei” should not see such a movie. Again—the attitude of them and us. In no way was she concerned that perhaps the world of the Chassidishe woman might be unpleasant to some and perfectly acceptable to others.

Who are the “frei?” We believe that they are our brothers and sisters who have Jewish mothers just as we do and should therefore be treated with respect and honor. For that matter shouldn’t all people be treated that way except perhaps for the crazy terrorists in the world out there? Why are we in the Orthodox world so opinionated about what we think of other Jews? Is this the way that we should be bringing up our children?

That is why we feel that it is important to let our children and grandchildren know that not everyone shares the same values that we do. However, that does not make them any less special than they are. It does not make them any less Jewish than they are. As long as they are born to a Jewish mother or go through a kosher conversion they are all the same.

It is time that this attitudinal behavior be left behind. We should be reaching out to everyone and respecting everyone. If we call our Rabbonim by their proper names as we should, we should make it our business to give proper kavod to all people who deserve it. It’s not “Do you go to Eisenberg?” It should be Dr Eisenberg. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

By Nina and Rabbi Mordechai Glick

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