By S. Friedman, Matzav.com
When I drove to the nursing home where I work this past Friday morning, I had a pit in my stomach in anticipation of the inevitable comments I was sure to receive from my coworkers. The comments came, and it was embarrassing; I didn’t have any good excuse or response to what they were asking about the hypocritical acts of the Rabbis in the Frum community. I was particular wary of a certain coworker, the Italian Catholic lady who is the administrator. She is also from West Long Branch, and all too familiar with the Deal community.
At a quiet moment after a meeting, she pulled me aside, and genuinely expressed that she felt so bad for me and the Frum community as a whole. She understood that we have lofty standards, and have impeccable values, but that the massive Chillul Hash-m that transpired would make people view ALL Frum Yidden with scorn. Growing up she remembers how anytime an Italian Mafioso was caught doing something illegal, her mother would cringe and remark how everyone is going to say that all of the Italians are involved with the Mafia.
She was convinced of the goodness of the Frum community due to her personal experiences with them. She said that when her husband was sick with his final illness, every night when she returned from the hospital, she found supper waiting for her (“in disposable tins, because they couldn’t leave their dishes with me”). When her husband ultimately succumbed to the illness, she said that her priests were of no help to her in trying to cope with her loss. She said comfort came from a local Rabbi’s wife, and then the Rabbi who called and left her a message offering his council whenever she needed it.
She knows some people did things wrong, and who knows what pressure they were under to do what they did, but she concluded that the kindness showed to her, an Italian Catholic, by the Deal community convinced her long ago that the religious Jews are very good decent people. One story was not going to change that.
Who was the couple that made the Kiddush Hash-m that left such lasting impression on her? Rabbi and Mrs. Dwek from Deal, Hash-m should give them strength.
There will unfortunately always be individuals who will commit acts that can potentially drag down Frum Yidden as a whole. The more solidly we cement our reputation as honest upstanding individuals during everyday life, the more likely we will be to protect ourselves from such perceptions in the future. As a whole, we are in galus, and have to suffer through the time tested “Eisav soineh es Yaakov,” but as individuals, we can make tremendous Kiddush Hash-ms in our daily lives that earn us the respect and admiration of those around us.