Dear Mayor Bral

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Congratulations on your win! Now that life is beginning to get back to normal, I feel compelled to share a recent street scene that I witnessed last Saturday night in our village.
It was alarming for many reasons.
I heard it from one block away—even before I could determine what I was bearing witness to.

Despite the fact that homeowners on Baker Hill Road were mandated to correct broken pavements (so that village sidewalks are smoothly paved, safe and walkable), my family and I observed several well-dressed adult men walking (four across) up the middle of Baker Hill Road (toward Station Road).

One of the men was pushing a fifth adult man in a wheelchair. In front of the four men was a sixth man with his young son sitting atop his shoulders. In front of the group was (perhaps) a religious leader who was walking, clapping and engaging them in religious song—all the while completely blocking potential car traffic from safely navigating Baker Hill Road. It was 7:50 p.m. on Saturday night. The sky was completely lit—not yet twilight.

As I said, I heard it from one block away—even before I could determine what I was bearing witness to.

This group walking four across—on a Saturday, on what is normally considered one of the most trafficked streets (with the exception of Middle Neck Road)—was sending a clear message to our non-observant community. The clear message being, “We will block the streets (with our bodies) because you (non-observant residents) shouldn’t be driving.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

By doing so, these individuals were placing an enormous and unfair responsibility on others not to hit them. Secondly, they were compromising the safety of the unsuspecting driver who is behind the wheel of a 3,500-pound vehicle by (potentially) forcing him onto oncoming traffic to avoid hitting the group. As they were walking uphill—any car from the opposite direction would fail to see them until they crested the hill. Any way you look at it, this was a dangerous situation.

No one wants to hit someone while they are driving, let alone a member of one’s one community. But walking four across—engaging in religious songs in the middle of the road—in the highly trafficked center of town with a wheelchair and child in tow will always be perceived as aggressive and provocative behavior.

You might as well wave a banner with the words, “I dare you to hit us.”

After all the animosity and heated social media exchanges that took place during the recent school bond vote and mayoral election—is this behavior really the New Face of Great Neck?

On behalf of all residents, I’m calling on Great Neck leadership to start a dialogue in our community with respect to this extremely sensitive and often avoided subject.

I’d like to suggest that with the many challenges life presents to all of us each and every day, challenging one’s neighbors (who represent diverse backgrounds) to drive or not to drive—on Shabbat—should not be one of them.

If we can speak of it—we can stop it.

—Judy Shore Rosenthal

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow… the way action are translated and judged is scary!
    While I 100% disagree with people walking in the street. I do understand why would a group of people be inclined to walk in street instead of the sidewalk.

    Many of Great Neck side streets do not have sidewalks. Almost all the sidewalks in the side streets are too narrow especially at this time of year with extra vegetation growing which makes the sidewalks narrower.

    Again as I said I think it is very unsafe and wrong to walk in the street but if you are walking as larger group I could easily see how uncomfortable and awkward it would be to walk in a line of people vs side by side.

    I highly highly doubt this was a demonstration or anyone trying to make a point while risking their own life.

    According to Jewish law one should avoid unnecessary risks and protect his own life by all means possible, so according to orthodox Judaism one must walk in the side walk and not street when possible.

    This was a simple case of family or friends walking together while in good mood not thinking 100% about their actions and enjoying a beautiful day singing.

    Religious Singing?! again wow! Just because people sing in Hebrew does not make it demonstration of I am better than you. Could be that is their first language. We have a Hebrew speaking population. Maybe it was a religious song that they were singing together at the table and it was still resonating in their head… you never sang in your head the song you heard before while walking?

    In order to have a tight and friendly community we should stop judging others and start zooming on the positive. No one is an angle in this world… we are all human and make mistakes. You can focus on the mistakes or the good… it is your choice to be happy or angry.

    The way I see it again… a happy group of friends/family had lunch together and left the house to go to park or something after and continued singing from the lunch table in the streets of great neck celebrating the freedom and safety they have in USA.
    you can focus on that or you can focus on their mistake to walk in the street carelessly.

    The worst kind of anti semitism is the one rising from within the Jews. We lost the 2nd temple literally for this reason “Sinaa’t Chinaam” Hatred of others for no good reason, judging others for the worst instead of for good, seeing other Jews as OTHERS and not your brothers and sisters.

    May we all learn to see the good in each other more and more!

  2. Dear Judy,
    I don’t think you give a rats ass about anyone’s safety. The way you depicted the people in the street it was clear you are a self hating Jew and it became a matter of observant vs non-observant. I live next to north high school and the way the students come in the middle of the street is completely unsafe but I have never heard of anyone say anything about it. I am not observant but totally was disgraced by your statement ” is this really the new face of great neck”! Like what is that to say. TOTAL HATER!!!!!

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