| Take 2 |

Raizel and Shira

I love the format of this column, as often, just reading both girls’ perspectives is half the answer!


Hi, my name is Raizel.

I’m 16 years old and I attend a small school comprised of girls from our small, close-knit community. We all know each other and each others’ families. We all live in the same neighborhood, shop at the same grocery stores, and eat at the same restaurants. Shabbos is always full of visits, from morning until dusk. The door of our house is like an ever-revolving door, with people constantly coming in and out. I know it has many advantages, living in an informal community like this. It’s always a relief to know that if you run out of anything, from matches to almond flour, someone nearby will be there to graciously lend it to you. Children are constantly in and out, and my siblings have a multitude of playmates to choose from. Our neighborhood is incredibly safe, considering the number of Jewish homes that cluster around each other for a couple of miles in each direction.

BUT — and this is a major BUT — there is no space. No space from girls at school. No space at home. No space at the library. No space at the mall. No space at the park. In short — NO SPACE.

I sincerely mean it when I say that on Shabbos, I often find myself in my bedroom with the door locked, pretending to have a stomachache, just to have a little room to breathe. And while I attempt to find peace there, there are around four to five knocks on the door every hour, each time by a different neighbor, asking where I am and how I’m feeling. It’s maddening sometimes.

I have one particular neighbor who’s especially hard to put up with. Her name is Shira. She just doesn’t seem to understand the concept of giving someone space. When I decline her invitation for Shabbos lunch, she proceeds to invite me for Shabbos dessert, and when I politely decline that as well, she invites me for Shalosh Seudos. And — I’m really not joking — if I decline that, she invites me for Melaveh Malkah! And this isn’t just once every few weeks — it’s every week!

At first, I used to say yes because I felt too ashamed to say no so many times in a row. Her house is five or six houses down from mine, so the distance isn’t a problem — it’s more about her family not being my style. They’re very raucous at the table, the children are constantly noshing and making a mess and dropping crumbs all over the place and one of her little sisters is always asking to sit on my lap and play with my hair. I mean, come on, wouldn’t anyone hide in their room when faced with that?!

I’m on the brink of being downright mean. She just doesn’t seem to get the hint, and there’s only so many Shabbos meals I can stand at her house before I explode. My mother’s tried to help me out by declining for me or even allowing me to spend Shabbos at my bubby in Lakewood, but those are just short-term solutions. I really need advice so I can start enjoying Shabbos again without feeling like this girl is breathing down my neck.

Hi, my name is Shira.

I’m almost 15 years old and I consider myself a very outgoing person. I love socializing and talking with girls of any age, actually with anyone at all. My mother always says that if you put me in front of an empty chair, I’d probably find myself having a long conversation with it in no time. I think the neighborhood I grew up in has a lot to do with why I love talking to people so much. We’re all so close and it’s really like one big happy family! I feel like I have 200 cousins!

I also take it upon myself to be the “motherly” sort to the girls who don’t fit in as well as I do. Take my neighbor, Raizel, for example. She’s a year or two older than me and she seems really introverted. I feel sorry for her. Whenever I see her, I make sure to invite her to my house for Shabbos so that she can socialize with me and my family. She was hesitant at first and refused to come many times, but she didn’t know I’m as persistent as a fox! I asked her continuously until she finally agreed. I tried to make sure she enjoyed herself enough that she’d want to come back. Like I said, I feel sorry for her, and I think she probably feels bad about how much fun she’s missing out on by being shy. Those types of girls need a push from a louder, more friendly sort of girl, and lucky for Raizel, that’s me!

Lately, I’m sensing a bit of hostility and I’m not sure why. I’m only trying to be kind and I know what I’m doing is helping her be the girl she’s too afraid to be. She needs to get out more and enjoy the pleasure of having friendships and company! She doesn’t seem to realize how lucky she is to be in this neighborhood where everyone is openly welcoming and neighborly to those around them. We’re all close and that’s the best way to be.

How do I get Raizel to quit resisting me, to finally open herself up, to be more friendly? I’m definitely trying my best and I push her as much as I can, but she seems to be drawing away. Why is that? Doesn’t she realize that I’m helping her achieve something she’s too shy to achieve on her own?


Dear Raizel, who needs space, and Shira, who hates space,

I love the format of this column, as often, just reading both girls’ perspectives is half the answer!

This scenario clearly illustrates how two well-meaning, good, kind, and caring girls can inadvertently hurt each other due to lack of awareness and communication.

This personality clash is due to introversion versus extroversion.

Extroverts are energized by socializing in large groups of people, and having many friends instead of a few intimate ones. Introverts are energized by spending time alone or with a smaller group of friends.

An introvert is not a neb or a socially awkward individual. An introvert simply prefers to spend more time alone. Introverts like Raizel often undergo genuine stress if they are consistently deprived of their space. They are also often misunderstood and pitied in a world where extroverts are celebrated.

When we read these two letters in the same column the answer is always so obvious. Oh, two different personalities! Got it! No problem. But in real life, it’s not so simple because we don’t always take the time to clearly see someone else’s perspective.

We need to look at our friends and say to ourselves, ‘What do they want? What are they thinking and feeling? What makes them feel energized, comfortable, calm, and happy?’

We don’t always know the answers to those questions. That’s why we’re lucky we have the gift of communication. We can always ask! Questions that come from a sincere place of wanting to do right with our friends are usually taken in the same spirit. In this scenario, Shira should ask: “I’m trying to bring you out so you can enjoy the benefits of our wonderful community, but I feel that you don’t appreciate my efforts. Am I doing something wrong? Are there other ways that you prefer to spend your time?”



You can avoid unnecessary pain with open and honest communication too.

Have confidence with who you are and with your preferences.

You love friends and people, just not all the time, and that’s okay.

Have an open and respectful conversation. Before having that conversation, reframe:

“Shira is a good, kind friend. She really cares about me and wants to help me.”

It’s not her fault that she has a different personality type. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. That means, don’t throw out your friendship, or get upset at your wonderful neighborhood just because you need space.

You can have the best of both worlds with kind and respectful communication!



Mindy Rosenthal M.S., BCBA/LBA, teaches social skills, executive function skills, and other skills to incredible children, teens, and their parents. She is also the lucky director of student services at Ilan High School and consults nationally and internationally on social skills, executive function, and behavioral programs. She can be reached through Teen Pages.


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 883)

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