Erev Yom Kippur Post about Sinas Chinam

I have gotten many emails in the past that go somewhat like this.

“Hey can you do a post on how the frummer people and communities have worse hospitality then the more modern ones.”

No I cannot do a post like this because it contains no truth whatsoever. I felt that since so much wrong is done by sinas chinam (baseless hatred) and I myself am guilty of this even though I don’t realize it, I would chime in my two cents.

.I have written some things that I would definitely call sinas chinam, and although I do not necessarly think that way, I have a great tayva to write stuff that makes people laugh, sometimes at the expense of others. I thought that erev yom kippur would be a great time to tell you that based on my experiences in differences communities, I have probably stayed in more communities then almost everyone reading this blog, I have to say that the friendliness or lack of hospitality within a group of people or a community usually has nothing to do with the entire group.

Let me list for you the communities I have stayed in. If there is a star after the community that means I have stayed there 3 or more times. Let also say that when I go to a community I almost always go to other shulls besides the one my hosts daven at, I always want to see what happens at the other places, and give me a feel for the whole community.

Los Angeles

Seattle

El Paso

Spokane

Boise

Vancouver

Spokane

Bozeman, MT

Calgary

Edmonton

Denver*

Boulder, CO*

Postville, Iowa

Minneapolis

St Louis*

Chicago*

Birmingham, Al

Anchorage*

Burlington, VT*

Detroit*

Cleveland*

Pittsburgh

Buffalo*

Toronto*

Montreal*

Ottawa*

Baltimore*

Syracuse*

Rochester*

Albany*

Monsey*

West Orange

Kew Garden Hills*

Flatbush*

Upper West Side*

Washington Heights*

Tenack

Monticello*

Dallas

Miami*

Providence*

Phily*

Now many of you may be asking, “but what about the Chassidim, because I probably didn’t stay with any Chassidim.” I would say to that, that you are absolutely right. However for 3 summers of my life I worked for the state as a camp inspector for the state of NY. The highest concentrations of camps in our program, which was one that offered children free food during the summer is located in the Catskills and most of what I did was in this area. I would go in and spend several hours sometimes as much as 6 with one camp. I would audit their food receipts and records and count their children eating in the lunchroom. I could usually tell within 5 minutes of speaking to someone at the camp or bungalow, as whether they were friendly or not. The funny thing I found and my collegues would all agree, is that the sect or group had nothing to do with whether they were kind to us or not.

I have visited literally hundreds of Chassidic and Litvishe bungalow colonies and camps and have found that many of them were friendly and many of them nasty, but it made no difference if they were Satmar, Square or Viznitz. We would go to one of the Bnos Square camps and the people as well as the kids themselves would be extremely friendly, singing us songs and giving us food and making us feel comfortable doing our jobs. Then we could go to one of the other Bnos Square camps and it would be the exact opposite.

With regards to the communities I have stayed in, I also find the same thing to be true. I have to commend Minneapolis and St Louis on being the nicest, warmest, large frum communities I have stayed in to date. But whether the community or shull was yeshivish, chabad or modern made no difference as to whether they were friendly or not. I personally feel most comfortable davening in black hat/yeshiva type settings, but that doesn’t mean they are friendlier.

I should note that by friendly, I mean when many people realize you are not from the area and introduce themselves and offer you some sort of hospitality. Also when I walk into a shull I have never been someone shows me where to sit and get siddur. It also makes no difference if it is a small community or large one. The really small ones that don’t have minyan tend to be very friendly. But the medium sized ones, for instance ones that have 100 frum families- may not necessarily be friendlier.

With that said, I would like to ask mechilah from all those who were offended, or who felt very strongly that some of the stuff I wrote was sinas chinam. Hopefully I will be able to beat the yetzer harah in the future and try and bring a more positive slant to this blog. I think it is positive, but I can definitely do better.

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