The Torah ideal is to greet each and every person with a pleasant smile. In Pirkei Avos (1:15) Shammai says: Receive (greet) every person with a “sever panim yafos”. Rav Shmuel Berenbaum , ztz”l, greeted every person with a smile – Jew and non-Jew alike.
Some of us, kids in particular, have not been exposed to non-Jews. In addition, many non-Jews have not seen Yidden ‘in action’ with their families on Chol Hamoed trips. They will be judging us based on these short encounters.
“Sometimes we are too heimish in a strange environment and that’s when other people can get the wrong idea about us.”
Some say that a Kiddush Hashem can be mechaper a Chillul Hashem. Now is our chance!
A few quick tips:
- Be sensitive to the location – for example, if you visit the 9/11 Memorial, treat it with respect. Remember, many people lost loved ones.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line and do it with a smile. It may cost you a minute in this world but will get you far more in the next.
- While you are out spending money, don’t forget about the “freebies” like “please”, “thank you”, “I’m sorry”, and “excuse me”. These words go a long way in creating and maintaining good will with others (Jew and non-Jew!) especially when tensions and cranky kids are stressing everyone out.
It’s a good idea to have a quick huddle with the family before going on an expedition. Remind the kids and adults about good manners, throwing wrappers in the garbage, and generally creating a kiddush H-shem from which we can all gain from. Sometimes we are too heimish in a strange environment and that’s when other people can get the wrong idea about us.
So this Chol Hamoed, let’s get it right!
On a popular Facebook page – with over 16K likes, the following was written (last year Pesach):
“My family and I went to the local bowling lanes on this rainy day. The place was filled to overflowing with people from the Orthodox Community, as they had off in celebration of their Passover. I didn’t mind, it just meant that we had to wait longer to get a lane. Now, elephant in the room, it is no secret that this community has been reviled wide and far by many people who live in proximity to the Orthodox community. So I was interested in seeing what my experience would be.
As my family waited in line for shoes, a father with little kids who were ahead of us, saw we were waiting behind them and insisted we go ahead of them when it was their turn. Then this man pictured here, Joel, helped clear out the extra bowling balls so we would have room to put ours down. We settled into the lane next to theirs. He and I became fast friends, and after a while, our families began to cheer each other on when someone had a good score. We enjoyed each other so much. Everywhere throughout the bowling lanes, kids, moms, dads would all smile at me as I walked by and smiled at them.
I talked to Joel and asked him about the reputation the Orthodox community seems to have been given…)
“People make assumptions about our entire community based on word of mouth. Sure there are some bad apples, but there are bad apples with any community, Mexican, Chinese, Christian… I wish people of all different cultures would show each other respect. People want us to blend in with their version of what culture should be, but I think Mexicans should be able to keep their culture, and the same for the Chinese, or Christians and yes, us too.
I wish people would stop being prejudiced just because they don’t understand someone else’s culture, and take the time to get to know each other without trying to change each other. We need to respect each other and live in peace with one another. We are all here on earth living together, and we are all loved by God.”
The comments were equally as nice.