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July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
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Face-Less

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Distances can feel even farther with differing time zones. It must be early in the morning to wish them a good Shabbos or Yom Tov, no matter how busy either of you are just then.  And you can’t wake up your son who may live on the West Coast too early with any news.  You must wait three hours for that!

My first cell phone was given to me by a son who doesn’t live near us. He was tired of trying to reach me on our landline.  He felt it was wrong for me not to be able to be accessible to my family, and I must admit that he was right.  Not long after this, I discovered the joys of texting.  Finally I found an effective way to stay in touch with busy children, though it could never replace phone calls.

Perhaps I ought to join the information super-highway, and reach out to those at a distance on Facebook.  I probably would find friends to greet me in this virtual land. There are some children with whom I could keep up with even better – with the added bonus of pictures of grandchildren – if I would only sign on.  I have been told that it’s reckless of me not to be online, because I could have the wonderful benefit of Skyping with my grandchildren in Jerusalem and other cities.  I am warned that I am sacrificing my relationship with all of them by not doing so.  But my husband and I choose not to be fervent Net-surfers, and we spend all of our time offline.  I find that it is enough of a challenge to care for real people in real time, and am uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy that may be the price of this connection.  I am a product of my times, and vividly remember the fear of Big Brother knowing all about everyone’s lives.  I know that there are others like me, who choose to remain Face-Less.

When my children were younger, they would gasp whenever they spotted frum-looking people on our visits to New York.  “Look Mommy, there is someone religious!”  They would gape at the yarmulkas, they would stare at the tichels, and snoods.  They could not believe the numbers of observant people swarming in the streets.  We tried to explain that now we were in a larger community, and it’s normal to see so many observant Jews there.

Those of us who live out-of-town have no trouble conjuring up the longing to be reunited in our own land.  We fervently pray for the day when we will all be united with our families, in Jerusalem, may it be very soon!

About the Author: Penina Scheiner is a kindergarten teacher, writer, and busy wife and mom who lives over the rainbow with her husband and kids.


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