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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communites – 1/11/08

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Dear Rachel,

I cannot allow the tirade addressed to landlords that appeared in your column (Chronicles September 14) to go unanswered. All landlords are not devils, nor are tenants angels. Far from it. I recently sold my business and the building in which it was located. In short, I retired. I had 16 tenants over my head.

They are educated by small time elected officials. Tenant’s Rights pamphlets are distributed regularly. Landlords are on their own. Tenants know that they can live the minimum of six months without paying rent before being evicted. Tenants destroy apartments and then call city inspectors. I can go on and on.

The writer of that letter, (A Concerned Social Worker), mentions rental money is clean money less expenses. Does the writer know the price of oil and the ever-increasing taxes? I would like to however, compliment her on the fact of her mentioning that many of the ruthless landlords are frum Jews.

I would like to add that frum Jews are also involved in Nursing homes. Some of these homes are okay; others are hellholes. I am including a copy of a letter that I recently sent to the social worker and director of such a home where my late sister resided before her death. The letter speaks for itself. The director is a rabbi. All these characters have to do is to give a little money to charities, and they are treated royally.

Just setting the record straight

Dear Setting,

“A concerned social worker” was obviously very troubled about the elderly and infirm who suffer indignity due to the inconsideration of hard-hearted landlords. But you are quite right in saying, “All landlords are not devils, nor are tenants angels.”

However, you seem to be casting the blame for society’s ills on primarily frum people – when, in fact, we all know that slumlords (as well as unscrupulous tenants) come in all stripes and colors.

The copy of a letter that you enclose (which you had sent to the Nursing Home where your sister had lived before her death) outlines your frustration at having unsuccessfully attempted to speak to a doctor regarding your sister’s condition – whereupon you had been told that you were not the designated next of kin. In addition to the Privacy Act (which protects a patient’s privacy), a health proxy may have been assigned at the time of your sister’s admission, to be called upon to make medical decisions in the event that your sister would be unable to.

At the same time, you make no mention of other family members who would have had even a vague interest in your sister’s welfare. Your letter to the Nursing Home talks of how you had walked into your sister’s room one day two weeks before she died and had found her with an uneaten tray of food and her hands shaking. She had asked you to get someone to feed her.

How very sad. How equally sad that such is the life of a patient in a hospital or nursing home setting when family members are absent ­- too busy with their own lives to be present when a parent, grandparent, or other close kin may be in desperate need of personal intervention and/or assistance.

It is a well-known fact that any and every facility is only as good as the “patient’s family” – since none are equipped to personally cater to a patient 24/7. And it certainly doesn’t help when it is obvious that there is no family to care one way or the other.

I must ask: If there was no next of kin who cared enough to look in on your sister daily, where were you – other than to seek consultation with a doctor? Yes, there are good facilities and better facilities, as well as low-grade facilities. But none can fill the role of a caring next of kin.

You concluded your letter to the nursing home with a most disparaging remark aimed at the frum female social worker, referring to her orthodox manner of dress. To me there is little difference between your distasteful and offensive comment and Jesse Jackson’s infamous “Hymies” slur.

May I suggest that you take the trouble to tour medical facilities around town – where you will invariably find that it is primarily the frum of our people who not only take on the round-the-clock personal attendance of family members, but go out of their way to visit total strangers who may be in need of help, food, or a simple but warmly conveyed refuah sheleima greeting.

Recently, I had occasion to visit a Nursing Home on a couple of Shabbosim. Glaringly, the only residents to have a member of the family with them for the entire duration of Shabbos were the frum ones – the shaitel-wearing kind.

I grant that those who dress the part should act the part and be held to a higher scrutiny. Anyone who is obviously frum, be it a Rabbi or a woman sporting a shaitel, are in a position to perform a Kiddush Hashem or, G-d forbid, a Chilul Hashem – unlike those who easily blend in with secular members of society.

Those of us whose attire reflect our heritage and conform to halacha must be especially mindful of being on guard all the time, both at home and wherever life’s journey takes us.

Thank you for writing and helping to set the record straight.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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