I just read the letter “Dear Mayor Bral” in the July 5 issue about a large group walking up the middle of Baker Hill Road instead of using the sidewalk on Shabbat.
Wow, the way actions are translated and judged is scary!
While I 100 percent disagree with people walking in the street, I do understand why a group of people would be inclined to walk in the street instead of on the sidewalk.
Many of Great Neck’s side streets do not have sidewalks and almost all of the sidewalks on the side streets are too narrow, especially at this time of year with extra vegetation growing which makes the sidewalks even narrower.
Again, as I said, I think it is very unsafe and wrong to walk in the street but, if you are walking as a larger group, I could easily see how uncomfortable and awkward it would be to walk in a line of people versus 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 on the sidewalk and not the street when possible.
This was a simple case of family or friends walking together while in a good mood, not thinking 100 percent about their actions and enjoying a beautiful day singing.
Religious singing? Again, wow! Just because people sing in Hebrew does not make it a demonstration of “I am better than you.” That could be their first language. We have a Hebrew-speaking population in Great Neck. Maybe the song was a religious song that they were singing together at the table and it was still resonating in their heads. Have you never sung in your head the song you heard before walking?
In order to have a tight and friendly community, we should stop judging others and start zooming in on the positive. No one is an angel 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, a happy group of friends/family had lunch together and left the house to go to the park or some other place and continued singing the song from the lunch table into the streets of Great Neck, celebrating the freedom and safety they have in the 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 Second Temple literally for this reason, sinaa’t chinaam, the hatred of others for no good reason, judging others for the worst instead of for good, seeing other Jews as others and not as your brothers and sisters.
May we all learn to see the good in each other more and more!