Dear Mrs. Bluth,
This may sound like it doesn’t really belong in your column, as it is not a life-threatening or earth shattering dilemma, but it is a problem that has arisen in our community that will impair our simchas shabbos v’yom tov. We live in a mixed community, meaning there is a good mix of modern Orthodox, misnagdish, yeshivish and chassidish families and everything in between. As neighbors, we get along well and there are schools and shuls to service every persuasion. All the schools have bus transportation, however to reach the shuls on foot has posed a problem for us on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim.
When we first moved to this area, we were the pioneers of this new enclave and there were only a few of us on a yet unbuilt, desolate tract of land. We were able to cut a path through the woods to get to our shul on the other side which made the walk almost half as long as it would have taken us had we taken the paved road that went around the outskirts of our community.
Over time, our neighborhood growth exploded and houses were built almost right next to one another. Until recently, it was still possible to use the cut-through shortcut. Now, we learned that this will no longer be available to us as that parcel of land has been purchased and a new home will go up, leaving us in with the problem of how to get to shul. For the younger folk this is a inconvenience, however for the older people who have difficulty walking, it is a worrisome problem. With the shortcut, the walk is about 45 minutes, and with winter coming and multiple days of chagim and inclement weather, this would translate into a 1 1/2 hour walk 4 to 7 times back and forth. Can you give us advice on what we can do to remedy the situation?
I can full well understand your problem and, perhaps, this might be just the spot for your problem to air. On top of my own ideas, my readership has been a wonderful source of problem solvers who have often sent in very creative and original solutions from which you may get the solution to your problem.
From where I stand, the first thing I would do is to approach the builder and ask him if there is a way he can make a public path through which you can continue to cut across to reach your shul without trespassing on the new owners property. If this is not possible, perhaps the builder can put you in touch with the new neighbors-to-be and ask them if they wouldn’t mind your using the cut-through that is now their backyard, so that you can use it on Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim. You might even consider offering him payment for the privilege. In the end, the new neighbors might become members in your shul, which might make it that much easier for you to request the favor. If all else fails, I would suggest that all those who would benefit from the need for a closer shul, to rent a house or a basement in the area and start a new minyan.
Now I put out to my readership to come up with another solution I may not have thought of to remedy the situation. Hatzlocha Rabba!