Every once in a while, you need a reminder that what we consider normal neighborly relations — isn’t. Rabbi Adlerstein posted about Jewish Chesed after Hurricane Sandy, two months ago. But here is an example closer to home.
On Friday night, shortly after candle lighting, a family heard the smoke detector go off. Although they quickly tried to put out the fire, this proved impossible — the fire department was called, and the house probably won’t be ready for their return until the end of this week.
Only one member of the family was lightly injured. The fire department had difficulty ascertaining who the child’s mother was, and kept asking who these neighbors were who were caring for the child as if she were their own.
After a fire, the Red Cross gives money and food for a few days and little care packages, and they also pay for hotel rooms for two days while families arrange where they will stay. In this case, they didn’t show up until Saturday night. When someone asked them why, the representative explained that they knew that the community would provide the family with food and accommodations over the Sabbath, so there was no need to arrive before then, at which point the family could sign necessary paperwork and accept money as needed.
We just operate differently, and it doesn’t take a disaster on the order of Hurricane Sandy to demonstrate it.