Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Making It a Point To Say Hello

Avi Ciment’s article “It All Begins With ‘Hello’” (perspectives, Nov. 5) really resonated with me.

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We moved to a neighborhood last summer in which no one says Shabbat shalom. But we make it our business to say it to everyone we pass. Sometimes we get a response back, sometimes we’re just looked at. Either way, we will continue to say hello, Shabbat shalom. It’s the neighbourly thing to do.

Penina Itzkowitz Fuld
Karnei Shomron, Israel

 

Aliyah – Not for Me

I can relate to Rea Bochner (“Aliyah Grief,” perspectives, Nov. 12). I’m not moving to Israel in the foreseeable future, because neither my wife nor myself can live in such an environment (we’re still in galus after all; Israel is not “there” yet).

I also wondered what was wrong with me in yeshiva for not loving the place; for missing the New England autumn, for wanting to be treated nicely, or for feeling deprived of the beautiful subtlety and plenty of the life into which I was blessed to be born.

For some people, the Land is enough to enthuse them, no matter how imperfect its current state. For the rest of us, maybe we’re less holy, or maybe we need to be in chutz l’aretz for our sanity, and thus, our avodas Hashem. I reckoned with myself that I was meant to come back to America to retrieve the little vessels I had left there, to redeem and elevate the mundane things that we are all in exile for. There is an opportunity here that does not exist in Israel, yet.

I am in the Diaspora for my divine purpose, my family, and our ability to function as human beings. I look forward to the complete, promised future when we can all live our best lives in Israel. Until then, I am doing what I think Hashem wants me to, and I will not ruin what I have on irrational exuberance. May we all be there together when the time comes.

Eli Berger
Denver, CO

 

Aliyah – No Regrets

The author made aliyah around the same time I did, and her story of two decades of dreaming sounds exactly like mine. I’m still loving it here despite the challenges, and my Hebrew is pretty solid so I don’t have the language issue … There is a definite “reinvention of the self” process one must undergo, and I myself left behind what would otherwise have been a dream life in the States – a job and community that I loved and where I was treated well beyond what I deserved, and family, friends and students nearby.

But I don’t find myself looking back, only forward. If anything, my grief is for the life I didn’t live here – waiting so long to make aliyah meant I didn’t “grow up” here, spend formative years here, or serve in the army. That for me makes it bittersweet. But when I look now at Jewish life in the States compared to here, it is like comparing a grade school musical production to Broadway.

Rabbi Joshua Maroof
Israel

 

We Need More Tolerance

Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier was very direct in his response to the “Is It Proper” question in the November 5 issue: Should parents encourage children to be tolerant of opposing political opinions?

While Rabbi Shafier may think that his answer (It begins, “Certainly not”) is the safe one for keeping his kids sheltered and on the straight-and-narrow – and he’s probably right – there may be negative consequences as well. Later in life his children may encounter alternative positions that seem innocuous or even positive and not understand why they had never encountered these before. They may feel ill equipped to consider them in their full context.

On the other hands, we don’t want to expose our children to everything and anything. No sane parents – of any political or religious persuasion – would tell their kids: Here is the world; explore what looks exciting and interesting; everything is ok.

So what is the answer?

As Rabbi Marc Angel skillfully put it:

“Parents ‘encourage’ their children to be tolerant and respectful by setting the example themselves. Unfortunately, we face growing divisions within society. The level of vitriol and outright hatred has risen dramatically in recent years. There is a tendency to stick to one’s own views, political or otherwise, and not give careful attention to those who differ.

“Those who foster extreme divisiveness are part of the problem; for ourselves and our children, we should strive to be part of the solution. The issue isn’t merely tolerance of opposing opinions, but actually listening to what the opponents are saying. If they have any truth on their side, admit it. If they are wrong, then refute their positions respectfully.”

Yeedle Cohen
Brooklyn, NY

 

Brother, Can You Patronize My Business?

In these difficult economic times, as a result of Covid, it is especially important to patronize your neighborhood businesses. Do it not only around annual Small Business Saturday, November 26, but every day of the year.

Small independent businesses are at the mercy of suppliers, especially third-party brokers, who control the price they have to pay for merchandise. There are additional costs of sanitizing the store and providing protection to employees, who deal with the public during this ongoing health emergency.

I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our local stores survive. The employees go out of their way to help find what I need. Customer service is their motto. As an independent mom and pop store, they don’t have bulk-buying purchasing power that Amazon or large national chain stores have. The owners can’t negotiate lower prices from suppliers. This is why they sometimes charge a little more. It is worth the price to avoid the crowds and long lines at larger stores in exchange for the convenience and friendly service your neighborhood community store offers.

Remember, these people are our neighbors. Our local entrepreneurs have continued the good fight to keep their existing staff and suppliers employed without layoffs and without canceling product or supply orders. They continue to work long hours, pay taxes and keep as many employed as possible. Many maintain the tradition of offering job opportunities to students during the holidays and summer.

Customers also patronize other commercial establishments on the block. Foot traffic is essential for the survival of any neighborhood commercial district. If we don’t patronize our local community stores and restaurants to shop and eat, they don’t eat either. This helps keep our neighbors employed and the local economy growing.

The owners of independent mom and pop stores are the backbone of our neighborhood commercial districts. Thank the hard-working owners and employees who continue to work during these hard times. Show your support by making a purchase.

Stop by your favorite store and also drop off a box of candy or cookies as a show of appreciation. Something sweet for the holidays helps take the edge off the stress we all face.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, NY

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