One of my daughters is fond of saying “Who is like Your nation, the Jewish people?” because there are just so many ways – small and large – in which the Jewish people is there for each other, in which we truly are one big family (sometimes with all the dysfunction included). This was brought home to me yet again this past Shabbos when we celebrated a family simcha in our new neighborhood.

We’ve only lived here 10 weeks and due to COVID, Pesach and other circumstances, I haven’t yet met anyone in the neighborhood. Actually I must amend that; I briefly met the woman whose home houses the shul when she dropped off a delicious cake (she gave me the recipe but I can’t seem to replicate it – and no, I don’t think she left out an ingredient!), but we were masked and it was right before Shabbos and we didn’t get to really meet. My husband, fully vaccinated just before Passover, was able to meet some of the men – but it’s still been limited.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that I knew no one, we were stuck for places for everyone to stay this past Shabbos. No matter how much we squished (and squish we did!), I just couldn’t squeeze out any more space. So I reached out to the woman who brought the cake who referred me to a few women she knew who, in turn, referred me to a few women they knew. In the end, five women offered me their guest rooms (including one who apologized to me for responding late because she had made an engagement party and a bar mitzvah that week!) of which we took three. Five complete strangers offered accommodations in their homes.

I don’t know what’s more amazing – that they did it or that I had the chutzpah to ask! But the reason I could ask (besides the fact that texting makes everything so much easier!) is because I expected people to give. Because the Jewish people are known by their chesed, by their acts of kindness, by all the ways we give to each other, because I heard it enough from my daughter that I have internalized that idea that there is really no one like the Jewish people!

The kindness didn’t end there. We needed some men to join us for Sheva Brachot in order to have a minyan, both Friday night and Shabbos day. Different couples walked over to participate – definitely taking time away from their Shabbos rest. Not only did they participate in our celebration, but I also finally got to meet some of the women who couldn’t have been lovelier or much gracious or warmer or more inviting.

It is such a comfort to live in a community of kindness, to know that you can count on your neighbors.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one additional recent act of chesed. On the day of the wedding, in their rush to get to the hall on time, someone (I’m not pointing fingers but you know you are) left one of the doors to our house open. I don’t mean unlocked, which I could have lived with (even if a little uncomfortably), but wide open. We discovered this when we tried to put on the alarm.

Besides fears of crime, I had visions of small creatures (rats, those bunnies that look cute in the yard but not in the mud room, birds) or even slightly larger ones (could a deer fit inside the door frame?) entering our home. What could we do? No one could leave because the hall was half an hour away from our home and it was picture time (the most sacred time of the day).

We called one of our neighbors. He was also far from the “hood” but he posted our situation on the chat and four people immediately offered to drop what they were doing and go over and shut the door. I don’t know who actually did, but thank you!!

I am feeling really grateful to be part of such a people.