Dear Mrs. Bluth,
The letter you printed from Neshama Yehudit (Life Chronicles, 8-7) was disturbing and I applaud the writer’s convictions. However, my own very different experience inspired me to write this letter and assure your readers that “Bnos Yisroel… and noshim tzidkonios” are alive and well in the Catskills.
I’ve never summered in a bungalow colony and, as a full-time working grandmother, I am not about to start. But this summer, for reasons not relevant here, I spent many days during July and August in a colony with scores of frum women. They were of every age group, social strata and religious affiliation. We sat for hours on the infamous “center lawn,” sunned at the pool, snacked at late-night porch gatherings, and simply hung out day after day, as young women with energetic children are wont to do. Sometimes the women were aware I was present and listening to their conversations, often they were not. And this is what I saw and heard:
Smart, funny, competent women who are good and kind and honest; women who are profoundly frum, yet choose to be private about their spirituality. Women who are good to each other beyond measure, with an unguarded joyfulness and generosity of heart and spirit that deeply moved this jaded and cynical observer. Women reaching out to others who may be shouldering a burden, with endless offers of support, encouraging words, wise counsel, and sometimes, just with loving silence. Women who lean in with grace, give and share without score-keeping or waiting to be repaid.
I heard absolutely no lashon hara, snide remarks, criticism or derision. In this “circle on the lawn,” I experienced strong, loving women who are, without a doubt, bringing nachas to their Creator. They inspired me and I am grateful for the time spent with them. In their zechus, and the zechus of many others like them, may we all merit a gut, gebencht yur and may Hashem answer our tefilos l’tova. Mi K’amcha Yisroel!
It’s always rewarding to get a rebuttal letter that contains positive information that contrasts the aforementioned, negative and disturbing one. As much as I would like to believe that we are all kind, loving, caring and sharing bnos Yisroel, I must also acknowledge that there are a few sour grapes in the barrel, and, lest we get too complacent in the thought that we are all “Perfect Pedestal People,” the letter from Neshama Yehudit comes to burst our bubble and call us to task. I chose to print that letter, filled with hurt, bile and finger-pointing so that those who sit in “the circle on the lawn” and see themselves depicted, understand that this is not who we are, how we should act toward each other and not the example we wish to present to our children.
Then comes your letter filled with the beauty of the Jewish spirit. “Hinei mah tov u’mah naim sheves achim gam yachas!” Your words give hope that even though we may occasionally stumble and fall, we have but to look at our fellow sisters to remind us what our Creator expects from us.
Thank you for presenting, in a far better light than I did, the wonderfulness of togetherness against the bleak and ugly picture of divisiveness. We are all bnos Yisroel and Hashem’s children, no one better than the other, no one less worthy of respect, love and acceptance.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, let us do some deep soul-searching and ask forgiveness from those we may have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, because if we don’t, the forgiveness we ask of Hakodosh Boruch Hu will also be withheld from us.
Thank you, good friend, for opening our eyes to the good, the sweet and the loving togetherness you were, indeed, blessed to behold and partake in during the summer. May your words be a blueprint for us all, that we may all aspire to become as the women “in the circle on your lawn.” And may we all be zoche to walk together to welcome Moshiach in the coming days.