Last week, we received an email from Rabbi Billet asking the neighbors on individual blocks who usually daven together to come out of their houses on Friday night at 7 p.m. (of course, keeping the prescribed social distance by staying in front of their own house) to sing Lecha Dodi and Yedid Nefesh together.
At first, my husband and I looked at each other, wondering if this was OK given the restrictions to stay in the house, but we realized that the way Rabbi Billet structured his request had taken into consideration all the rules regarding safe distancing.
After e-mailing the other guys on the block to see if all of them were planning to participate in this event, my husband, true to the directions given him, got dressed for Shabbos as if he were going to shul, and at 7:00 p.m. he went outside to see how this was going to work.
I decided to go out, too, as I wanted to see for myself how this was going to play out. I sat on the chair on my porch, which gave me a bird’s-eye view of the entire block and all that was unfolding.
My husband stood on our walkway, waiting for all the neighbors to come out, commenting to me that it was interesting to note that the guys who are always late for minyan were the same guys who were now late coming out of their houses!
One by one, the men came out of their houses. I should really say “two by two,” since all the men came out of their houses accompanied by their wives, who also wanted to be a part of this unique happening.
Everyone was dressed up as if they were going to shul rather than going to the front stoop of their home. Even neighbors who rarely speak to each other came out in solidarity, like they were welcoming close family members who were all participating in a special family occasion.
The singing began — some on-key and many off-key, but welcome nonetheless — with a fervor that made you feel that this was the very first time any of them had sung Lecha Dodi or Yedid Nefesh.
When the singing was done, all the neighbors looked at each other from a distance or yelled a greeting down the street. We all were giggling, as it felt like the first social interaction any of us had with anyone in months, not days or weeks.
I imagine that this same scenario played out on many other streets in the neighborhood that night.
These are very strange times we are living through right now, but with all of us giving chizuk to each other and trying to help each other, we shall get past this stronger and better. Please stay safe, follow the social distancing rules, and let’s all hope this pandemic disappears as fast as it seems to have enveloped us in its midst!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.