Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight


Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director

















Home and Family
The Siyum
by Debbie Blachor

There are some mutual advantages to living in a non- insular neighborhood.

When someone mentions the discord between factions in the Jewish world, I'm always surprised. Perhaps it's because I live in Romema, a `cosmopolitan' neighborhood. With so many different types around, there's no room for looking down at others. In my own building, everyone gets along, though we, too, have a diverse crowd, ranging from Belzers to Briskers to Sefardim. I remember being overwhelmed at the amount of cakes sent by my joyous neighbors for the sholom zochor of our bechor, and at the help and support when packing on a moment's notice to go to the States for my father's funeral. On a daily basis, there are always plenty of babysitters-in-a-pinch. My own children have playmates to teach English to, and from whom to pick up Hebrew and Yiddish. When baking at night, there is always someone who has extra eggs, margarine or sugar.

But it was this past week that really brought the feelings into focus. A month ago, an elderly secular neighbor passed away. The rest of us were galvanized into action. Two women from my entrance went to bring food and sympathy to the widow as soon as they heard the news. A man from downstairs left Kollel early to be at the funeral. Another from upstairs took time to explain all the pertinent halochos. My next door neighbor and I prepared the seudas havro'a and everyone took turns to pay nichum aveilim visits and to share in the pain of our widowed neighbor. We now sat and spoke at length with her, though we had previously only exchanged pleasantries in passing.

After the shiva, one neighbor decided that mishnayos should be learned for the deceased, culminating in a siyum on the shloshim. A number of neighbors assisted in the project. As this date approached, new plans were discussed back and forth, with the women taking part. One of us hosted it in her house while others supplied cakes and drinks. The new widow deeply appreciated all of the sincere efforts, both for her sake and her husband's.

The most moving part was the siyum itself; it was an impressive mixture of Chassidim, Litvaks and Sefardim sitting around a table together, following the mishnayos from texts. Some with long payos dangling, others' tucked behind their ears and some without any. Long jackets and short; men from America, Europe and generations-old Jerusalemites. So different, yet so much the same - all partcipating in the mitzva of chessed shel emes, providing merit for one who could no longer garner it on his own.

The siyum proved not only that different types can get along, but unity can be generated with just a little effort on everyone's part. The good-will already existed. May we always merit to be part of such togetherness - for simchos mainly.


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