“I’m starting to get tired of society viewing introversion as a disadvantage, while extroversion is looked at as praiseworthy”
Congressman Tenzer Saved My Law Degree [For the Record / Issue 943]
I was delighted to read your lovely tribute to the late Congressman Herbert Tenzer, the first Orthodox Jew ever elected to Congress in 1964. While I did not personally know the congressman, never even met him, I did have a single telephone conversation with him, which without wishing to sound melodramatic, actually impacted my life.
Flash back, if you will, to the spring of June 1965. I was a third-year law student at NYU Law School and was suddenly informed that my final examination in Constitutional Law was to take place on the afternoon of the second day of Shavuos. Naturally that would be impossible for me, but for some reason, the law school would not schedule a makeup or a postponement. Worse, my failure to appear for the test would delay my graduation for a full year until the next time the test was to be given and delaying my taking the bar exam for a full year!
Nothing could change their decision. Someone suggested that I contact Herbert Tenzer. Aside from being a communal activist, he was a distinguished NYU alumnus and a member of the board of the Law School. I called him and told him of my dilemma. He was sincerely outraged and said he would call me back in an hour.
As good as his word, he called me to tell me he had worked out a solution. Basically, if I could be in the classroom when the test was being administered, and remain there till sundown, I could take the test after everyone had left. It was an imperfect compromise as it involved me walking five miles to the law school on Shavuos afternoon and sitting in the back of the exam room until sundown, but it was all I had. I grabbed it and took the exam.
I was so impressed with Herbert Tenzer; not only did he intervene for someone he did not even know, but because of his involvement, the law school changed its scheduling policy with regard to religious conflicts.
Your tribute to Congressman Tenzer reignited those memories and my eternal gratitude. I guess I should have written this letter 58 years ago!
Unsung Heroes [Inbox / Issue 943]
I want to give a shout-out to Rabbi Moshe Bender and all the anonymous heroes involved in programs and organizations (such as Kesher, Nasi etc.), for taking the initiative to try to alleviate and help the shidduch challenges we face as a community. I am a shadchan who sees firsthand how devoted and selfless these unsung heroes are.
In response to the letter writer of “Behind Every Resume,” I want to say that from networking with many shadchanim around North America, I find that shadchanim really do want to help the singles that they meet, and whether you hear from them or not doesn’t mean they aren’t actively trying to help you.
With my best wishes for hatzlachah,
A Shadchan in Lakewood
How Do You Know? [Inbox / Issue 943]
I’d like to respond to the letter writer who says she went to a shadchan event, met shadchanim, and was not redt a single shidduch. My question is, how does she know that?
I do not consider myself a shadchan but I have been involved in shidduchim since the day I got engaged 22 years ago. That is when my future husband and I set up our first date.
Many times shadchanim work and work to arrange a shidduch, but don’t get yesses. I actually find it really difficult to get a yes from a boy and lately from girls as well. (I recently tried to redt a great boy who is 5’ 7” to eight different girls who were all between 5’ 3” and 5’ 4”. Without hearing one thing about the boy, each one of them said no right off the bat because they felt he was too short!)
When we first married, we lived in Eretz Yisrael. This was before there were DSL lines. While on a kollel budget, I racked up a huge phone bill because I was constantly calling America to redt shidduchim to all my friends and my husband’s friends. But then I heard through the grapevine that some of my friends were upset at me because they thought I wasn’t trying to redt them shidduchim. I was shocked. I had purposely not told them that I was constantly busy with their shidduchim, because if something didn’t pan out and I didn’t get a yes, I was afraid they would get their hopes up and then be disappointed.
That experience leads me to wonder: How does this girl know that the shadchanim are not trying to work on her behalf?
Another point about shadchanim. My husband and I were not zocheh to make many shidduchim but we have been on the sidelines of many. There are many shidduchim that would not have happened without our input, yet many of these young men and women haven’t called to tell us they got engaged!
Sometimes we don’t hear the good news until after the wedding; meanwhile, we are davening for them and losing sleep over their situation. So I understand the frustration of shadchanim who work hard and are not remunerated.
Personally, we are really not looking for remuneration but at least a thank you and being able to share good news would be nice. I am not embarrassed to admit though, that the few times — which I can count on less than one hand — that we been given a small gift for our help, it did feel good to be appreciated. When someone feels appreciated it gives them chiyus to keep trying.
Mrs. Baila Krohn, Clifton, NJ
Timely Reminder [Inbox / Issue 943]
I can understand the letter writer from Golders Green for being unhappy with the True Account of issue 941, and he has a right to defend his kehillah. However, was this a reason to belittle the story and to describe it as a “rather unrefined and grisly tale”?
The story itself was a very moving story showing the damage caused by sinas chinam and the tremendous courage it takes to make peace. The story also gave us a glimpse of the challenges that some young impoverished teenagers from Eretz Yisrael endure. It was unfortunate and ironic that a story about reconciliation resulted in offending a kehillah. I am sure this was unintentional.
The Golders Green kehillah in North West London is a citadel of tzedakah and chesed, and this cannot be denied. However, perhaps a young bochur collecting for his sister’s wedding two decades ago was not treated with the same respect and generosity that other collectors experience.
This story can remind members of all communities that behind every collector, even if he is young or less respectable looking, there is poverty, pain, and humiliation.
Parents, Start Parenting [Blind Spot / Double Take – Issue 942]
Sometimes I read a Double Take story, and I can see both sides. This time I wholly disagreed with both sides.
As parents, we are in a position to either enable and encourage our kids to be victims, or empower them to find their inner strength and resilience.
Both mothers in this story chose the former.
While exclusion and bullying between kids is a reality, the other reality is that you almost always cannot solve it through intervention. I’m not giving Mussar 101 here — I’ve been there and done that. Telling a bully’s mom to make it stop simply does not work. (On the flip side, parents cannot over-identify with their kid who nebach, is a bully, and claim responsibility. A kid’s actions are his own, and we would all do well to accept that.)
Libby’s mom made the mistake of blaming her child’s problems on Mindy. If Libby is an introvert, then let her be. If she’s dreaming of branching out and building a better friend network, take her to social skills classes.
But Mindy’s mom wasn’t much better. She watched her daughter fade away and lose her spark of life at school. This was the moment to help Mindy through a tough time. Life is full of rejections and disappointments. Instead of turning toward the perpetrator, turn toward your daughter who needs your empathy, support, and ultimately skills for healing.
The problem is that the parents in this story are acting like the kids they are trying to protect. If parents could pinpoint their own wounds and immaturity… well… that would be the first step.
M. K., Jerusalem
Your Daughter Is Fine [Blind Spot / Double Take – Issue 942]
If I could address the mother of “Libby” from the Double Take story, this is what I’d tell her.
Dearest Sheva, stop projecting your insecurity on your daughter. Libby is okay. She says she’s fine. Believe her! How do I know? Because I was Libby. I also preferred reading to socializing. I also had only a couple of friends.
No, I didn’t have a cousin Mindy, yet I did have a sister just 15 months older than me who was my complete opposite, a true social butterfly.
I grew up thinking something was wrong with me, that I needed to socialize more. Until years later, when I learned to accept myself the way I am. Therapy taught me it’s okay to be me. And once I was able to accept it’s okay to not be center of attention, it’s okay to sit in a quiet corner at gatherings, it’s okay to need my space, I was finally able to develop the real me.
Now, as a 39-year-old mother, I actually prefer to sit and schmooze with my neighbors, rather than read. Who would ever have believed?! (I’m actually behind in my Mishpacha because of that!)
So my message to Sheva and all other parents out there with quiet, introverted children: Your children are happy the way they are, and it’s okay. Of course, if your child has social anxiety or doesn’t seem to understand social nuances, get her some professional help. But just being quiet and bookish is okay.
Let It Unfold [Blind Spot / Double Take – Issue 942]
In reference to the Double Take story about the shy girl and her cousin the class queen, I’d like to point out that Libby’s mother needs to take a back seat in this scenario and let the kids work it out on their own.
I myself had a similar situation where a bunch of parents told on my daughter about things that weren’t even true just because she was more outgoing, more energetic, and prettier. It led to my daughter not getting into the seminary of her choice and completely altering her future just because a couple parents couldn’t accept that my daughter was better than theirs.
We ended up sending her to seminary she didn’t want to go to, which led to her leaving seminary after just one month. After this she ended up sulking in low self-esteem for many years, causing her to drift away from tzniyus and Yiddishkeit as a whole.
It’s unfortunate that after years of my loving, caring, and perfect parenting, a couple of parents could tear down everything I’ve built. In this Double Take story, Sheva (Libby’s mother) is acting extremely self-centered and not thinking at all about how every neshamah is precious, and even though she wants to protect her daughter, she’s doing it on the account of her niece.
I believe in this scenario Libby’s mother has to let the situation unfold without interruption. Who knows, maybe these two girl cousins might actually end up getting along after some quality camp time together.
A parent deeply concerned with the ways of our ahavas Yisrael
We Can Help Your Daughter [Blind Spot / Double Take – Issue 942]
I found the recent Double Take entitled “Blind Spot” an enjoyable read, especially as a speech language pathologist who specializes in working with social/pragmatic skills.
Libby’s mom comments that although her daughter doesn’t have any friends and chooses to read during recess, her social skills are fine and that she’s just a bit introverted. Sometimes parents fail to realize that an introverted child with friends is most definitely fine; however, an introverted child with no friends isn’t fine at all.
If your daughter is struggling with friends, the answer isn’t to ignore the issue and chalk it up to introversion. Your daughter requires several sessions with a qualified therapist who can teach her the positive aspects of introversion as well as the challenges it can present.
They can work on conversational skills, how to start a conversation and how to keep a conversation going, the mechanics of group conversation, and the concept of “opting in” to socialization. They can learn who makes sense for them to try to befriend and who doesn’t.
If your daughter is failing socially, please don’t blame it on her cousin, sister, or neighbor. Boost her up by giving her the tools she needs to succeed socially.
An SLP in Brooklyn, NY
Appreciate the Advantages [Blind Spot / Double Take – Issue 942]
I’m writing about last week’s Double Take because I’m starting to get tired of society viewing introversion as a disadvantage, while extroversion is looked at as praiseworthy.
The description of the two cousins uses words such as “bubbly” and “outgoing” for the extroverted cousin, and “shy,” “socially challenged” for the introvert.
Why is Libby’s mom Sheva so intent on pushing her daughter to be something she is not? What’s wrong with being quiet and thoughtful? Is Sheva sure that her daughter wants a gaggle of friends or is it perhaps Sheva who wants that for her? Hashem created both types of personality traits — shouldn’t we appreciate the qualities and advantages of both?
It seems to be socially acceptable to tell introverts, “You should go out more, be more sociable.” How would extroverts like to hear, “You should be quiet and more reflective… read a book. I can give some tips on that”?
N. L. P., Canada
Same Shining Sight [Night Vision / Issue 941]
I just read Mrs. Rochel Elbaum’s piece about her father, Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Weinberg ztz”l’s, chavrusashaft with Rav Breuer ztz”l, and the dream with the Chasam Sofer appearing to answer their kushya.
Having been a very close friend of Mrs. Elbaum’s youngest sister, I was in the Weinberg home in Washington Heights hundreds of times during our school years and beyond. The scene that greeted me there was always, every single time, the same — Rav Weinberg was sitting at the head of the dining room table and learning. His large forehead was literally shining, and he had an incredible hadras panim.
It was wonderful to relive those memories via Mrs. Elbaum’s article.
Esther Mayerfeld, Los Angeles
Delivered by Hand [Where Nobility and Generosity Merged / Issue 941]
Mere mention of Reb Beri Reichmann reminds me of my unusual encounter with this dignified, understated, noble character 45 years ago.
I was a young woman working at Neve Yerushalayim, which was then located in a small building in Rechov Kassuto in Bayit Vegan. Like all the established mosdos of today, in its formative years Neve struggled financially and was always short of funds.
Chavrusas used to come to our home in the evenings, and of course there were always discussions after learning about current events in and out of the workplace. One night the chavrusa, Yanky Bistricer, came in all excited. He said his friend’s father, a man named Reb Beri Reichmann, was in town and said it would be just brilliant for me to approach him on behalf of Neve.
I was young and naive and extremely intimidated, but by the time he left we had a plan of action. The next evening I headed to the Hilton Hotel (later the Crowne Plaza and currently the Vert Hotel). I approached the desk and asked for Mr. Albert Reichmann. They told me to take a seat and pick up the phone, and they connected me to his room.
With my stomach in knots, I introduced myself to Mr. Reichmann, and he said he would come down to the lobby. I was literally shaking and regained my composure as I waited for Mr. Reichmann. A few minutes later, with confidence I did not feel, I made my pitch on behalf of Neve. He smiled — that trademark smile — and put me at ease.
The following morning as I was chugging on the bus to work, I looked out of the window on Rechov Hapisga in Bayit Vegan and saw a taxi with “the noble gentleman” from the night before. Could Mr. Reichmann himself be coming to visit?
There were no cell phones then (in fact, I did not even have a landline in my apartment), so I got off the bus and raced into the tiny “office” at the entrance of Neve. I quickly told the “office manager” what I had done and gave her a heads-up. Sure enough, moments later, in walked “Reb Beri.”
Rabbi Refson, the director, was overseas on behalf of Neve, so I thanked Mr. Reichmann for coming and asked him if he would like a “tour.”
He smiled and said that it was not necessary. Then from his coat pocket he took out a huge wad of bills and handed them to me. He wished us hatzlachah, smiled, and in a flash was gone.
It took me a few minutes to come to myself and count the money. We counted 10,000 liras, probably equivalent to $15,000 today.
Reb Beri z”l did not just listen to my shpiel in the hotel; he got into a taxi, traveled all the way to Bayit Vegan, and so graciously showed his support for this struggling mosad which today is world renowned and boasts a full campus with thousands of students and alumnae.
Note: In last week’s magazine [Issue 943], the ArtScroll/Mesorah advertisement on page 31 inadvertently went to print with Hashem’s name. Please treat the page with the proper respect. We deeply regret this error.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 944)
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