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