At the time that we were working diligently to establish Maison Shalom, the group home that our daughter Naama lives in, we received amazingly unsettling telephone calls. There were those in the community surrounding the prospective new home that called and complained that they were worried that the real estate value of their own homes would go down. Their concern, supposedly, was that the residents of the home would be disturbing the neighborhood.
There was a well-known Rav in the area who knew that we were involved with the inception of Maison Shalom, but did not know that we actually had a daughter that would be living there. He called Mordechai one day to have a “rabbi to rabbi” chat, warning us that the opening of the home would “spoil the neighborhood.” He told us that there would be traffic tie ups on the street as a result of the home being there. He suggested that the home should be opened in an industrial area instead of a residential one.
The first complaint from the frum people concerned about their property being devaluated made us cry and the second complaint from a rav made us laugh. Oh yes, there would be oodles of traffic—from what?
As an aside, within a short period of time after the home opened its doors, neighbors were welcoming the young special needs residents into their homes. They were being invited for Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and attitudes began to change.
This evening we had the pleasure of attending the TABC graduation. With pride we watched our grandson Ezra receive both his diploma and the Rabbi Israel Poleyoff Excellence Award in Torah Sh’Baal Peh. We derived much pleasure from being able to attend this occasion and it was especially meaningful to us as Mordechai was a Talmud of the late Rav Poleyoff at YU. Yet it was something else which really moved us at the graduation. It was barely noted, but it made a great impression on us. Three Sinai bochurim graduated together with this year’s 12th year class. We are aware of the fact that we are probably much more sensitive to these kinds of special scenarios. We have no idea who these boys are, butwe need for their families to know that we take great pride in their accomplishments and were so happy to see that one of them received an award for Excellence and Devotion to Tefillah and Jewish Values.
The road ahead for these young men might be slightly more uncertain than those of their classmates, but we wish their parents and their families much hatzlacha in planning their futures. For us, though, we are overly grateful to TABC and Sinai for allowing such a beautiful event to take place and for sharing in the future lives of these young men. Gone are the days, we hope and pray, that telephone calls are made to worry about the “effect on the neighborhood.”
Kol Hakavod to all that allowed this to happen; we are honored to be a part of this neighborhood.
Originally published by The Jewish Link of Bergen County at http://www.jewishlinkbc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id…