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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Neighborly Chesed: Above And Beyond

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My husband and I are living in our house for over 30 years. We have wonderful neighbors on both sides. The one on the right, a non-frum Jewish couple, lived in their house longer than we’ve resided in ours. We always got along very well with them, as they are unusually kind, friendly and helpful people. When I had an injury many years ago and couldn’t function properly, the husband always offered to drive me – and indeed drove me – to therapy. He was happy to pick up anything I needed from the store – and always with a smile. I tried not to take advantage, but I very much appreciated his and his wife’s help.

In recent years a frum couple, also friendly and kind, moved in on the other side of these people. The man, a doctor, offered his services whenever they needed it, and was always available for advice and help.

Our non-frum neighbors always commented about how they could never move away, even though they were retired and didn’t need a house the size of theirs. After all, they were thrilled with their neighbors, as well as with other people on the block.

The non-observant wife of the aforementioned couple was born a non-Jew and claimed to have converted to Judaism. While not giving that fact much thought, I found it difficult to believe that she would have been converted by an Orthodox rabbi since she had no intention of being observant. I thus assumed that a Reform rabbi probably converted her. Whatever her religious status, our good neighborly relationship remained intact.

This woman (we’ll call her Carol) unfortunately became ill four years ago. Throughout her illness, she remained positive and lived life to the fullest. Sadly, things took a turn for the worse and she recently passed away.

The doctor and his wife (the frum neighbors mentioned earlier), always looking to do chesed, asked Carol’s husband on the day of the funeral for Carol’s conversion papers so as to ascertain if she was really Jewish. To their pleasant surprise, as well as to ours, Carol’s conversion papers revealed that an Orthodox rabbi had performed her conversion. The papers, written in Hebrew and English, were signed by a well-known rabbi.

The frum doctor and his wife arranged through our local rabbi to have Kaddish recited for Carol. The doctor’s wife, another neighbor and I shared the cost.

Despite not practicing her religion, Carol’s soul – due to her caring neighbors – now has Kaddish being said for her three times a day. Her husband and family, overcome with emotion, filled with tears upon hearing this even though they didn’t understand the depth of our action.

I’m quite sure Carol’s neshamah is smiling and that Hashem is proud of the chesed Am Yisrael does for one another. Mi k’amcha Yisrael!

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