Advantages to City Life

I’m writing in regard to the article in the July 8 issue of Hamodia Prime, “Urban Exodus.” I appreciate your valid points. As a Torah-true publication, your primary goal and responsibility is to present current hot topics with a Torah perspective on the matter. Therefore, I’m surprised…

It sounds like you were hired by a mortgage broker to earn a few dollars — otherwise, what was the goal of mocking and condemning city life? You wrote that it’s geshmak to live with 29- to 38-year-olds. We are proud residents of the beautiful Boro Park community, and we are surrounded by heimishe Yidden and see it flourishing. Our kinderlach run onto their school buses with smiley faces and have the privilege and the merit to live in close proximity to their grandparents and elders, who are our true role models.

Yes, I understand that in Monsey and Lakewood one can afford more spacious houses (let’s not discuss that taxes are way higher and a car is a must), but there are still some people happily living in small, cozy apartments. What happened to the “old-fashioned” middah of histapkus bamuet? These people should be admired and looked up to — not mocked!!

I do salute those who gathered the courage to leave all behind to start a new life. But what is their goal? Is it their in-ground pool or parking spot? Or are they truly doing it with Hashem in mind?

You mentioned how anti-Semitism and COVID-19 hit Brooklyn very hard. Didn’t Monsey have stabbings, and were the people in Lakewood exempt from COVID-19? Be real!

Referring to “we no longer need the city because who needs retail stores?” Firstly, many of us heimishe city people don’t have easy internet access. Second, those who shop online truly forgot about the convenience of walking into a store and choosing the item in real colors, feeling the material, trying it on and walking home with a purchase that actually fits. Online shopping can make you wait weeks for an item, and only then can you see that it needs to be returned.

So again, if you need to move, do so with the right perspective in mind, and don’t look back and mock others!

S.F., Boro Park

Mrs. Grunfeld responds:

Thanks for writing in; your points about city life are all very relevant and will likely resonate with many readers.

I reject your caricature of the article as “mocking and condemning city life.” There was certainly no mockery or condemnation; it was an exploratory piece looking at rising concerns about urban living.

While COVID-19 has, of course, hurt many suburban, and now rural, communities, if we accept the premise that social distancing helps to slow the spread of this virus, it is obviously easier to do so in less-dense Jewish communities.

As for the anti-Semitic attacks in Monsey, that is of course true, but this article mentioned crime in general, and it is hard to deny that urban centers experience more crime than suburban or rural communities. New York City and other big metropolises have suffered a significant uptick in violent crime, and that trend is disquieting to many.

The point was not to criticize urban living, but to flesh out the growing concerns about urban life in 2020.

As for the line about people wanting to live in places like Lakewood amongst peers 29 to 38 years old, that was the comment of one particular realtor and should be
taken as such — the opinion of one person. I interviewed realtors because they have insight into this topic and they hear from a lot of people looking to move, but of course, their perspective is limited, as are the perspectives of all interviewees. I strive to give articles balance, and in this case, I’ll acknowledge this piece should have included the perspective of some who still prefer the big city and enjoy all it has to offer.

I appreciate you taking the time to write in and offer a counternarrative.