Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud


Jewish McMansions and the American Dream

I see them everywhere, in new suburban developments and in urban neighborhoods: gigantic homes that could house a tribe, let alone an average family, and sometimes contain such perks as indoor pools. Labeled McMansions in the 1980s, Jews are building them and moving into them in droves.

There is a positive and a negative to these Jewish McMansions, at least as I have seen it play out in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and in suburban neighborhoods around the country.

In our old neighborhood of Midwood, Brooklyn, the McMansion-building craze means that families desirous of larger or more comfortable space are remaining in the neighborhood instead of moving to the suburbs. This is good for the Jews and for the city.

Particularly in the Syrian Jewish community focused around Ocean Parkway, McMansions are a sign that families are making a commitment to remain within walking distance of each other. Grandchildren grow up with their grandparents and cousins around the corner or a short bike ride away. They can spend Shabbat and holidays together, helping to cement traditional observance down through the generations. It also means that the social ties that support neighborhood institutions like synagogues and the community center remain strong.

Such stability is also good for the larger neighborhood. While it is true many of the children in these homes attend private Jewish day schools, McMansions mitigate white flight, helping to sustain an integrated neighborhood.

The down side, of course, is conspicuous consumption. McMansions represent big money. The owners are more than successful; they are wealthy (in an upper-middle-class sort of way). If our immigrant grandparents (or great grandparents) did not find America’s streets paved with gold, we, at least, can tile our bathrooms in marble accented by gold fixtures.

That is why, when I see a McMansion, I wonder how much tzedakah (charity) the family gives. In the suburbs, I also wonder what it would be like if the builder had built within the same fascade a multi-family dwelling that looked as good but provides affordable middle-class housing for the hard-working teachers, civil-service, health-care, and office workers who are being priced out of the county in which I now live by the proliferation of such McMansions.

The affordable-housing folks in my community tell me it is possible for the builders to make the same profit; all that is lacking is a commitment to try. That also used to be part of the Jewish American dream: to try to see that everyone could have the same chance to live comfortably and safely by working hard.

I hope it still is part of our dream.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 24, 2006 at 5:13 am


I grew up just a few blocks from where these McMansions are being built, and used to ride my bike on the bike path on Ocean Parkway to Brighton Beach (going back over thirty years, now…) Well, there certainly were no McMansions on the horizon then, though Ocean Parkway was always more affluent than much of the surrounding area. It’s hard to imagine that kind of affluence and wealth near my old neighborhood. It must be very isolated and somewhat insular. I made a trip to Brooklyn with my family a while back to get my son a tallis for his Bar Mitzvah, and my old neighborhood struck me as somewhat crumling. It’s really hard to imagine. I wonder, too, about the tzedakah, if it exists.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 24, 2006 at 5:13 am


I grew up just a few blocks from where these McMansions are being built, and used to ride my bike on the bike path on Ocean Parkway to Brighton Beach (going back over thirty years, now…) Well, there certainly were no McMansions on the horizon then, though Ocean Parkway was always more affluent than much of the surrounding area. It’s hard to imagine that kind of affluence and wealth near my old neighborhood. It must be very isolated and somewhat insular. I made a trip to Brooklyn with my family a while back to get my son a tallis for his Bar Mitzvah, and my old neighborhood struck me as somewhat crumling. It’s really hard to imagine. I wonder, too, about the tzedakah, if it exists.



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jonfox

posted October 24, 2006 at 6:23 pm


People who argue about the “conspicuous consumption” of large and roomy homes leave me cold. Would you rather the neighborhoods crumble away like so much of New York to keep it feeling “heimische”? Bigger homes mean more taxes and increasing land values, both contributing to the improvement of the city. We need more upscale and safer neighborhoods. People with more to lose take better care of what they have, and are less likely to support the kinds of socialist, racist and confiscatory policies that plagued New York during the anti-semitic reign of “General” David Dinkins and Al Sharpton. We have come too far and struggled too hard to re-consign ourselves to cramped and filthy ghettos. It is those who accept the romantic view of the past unquestioningly who are the isolated and insular.



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jonfox

posted October 24, 2006 at 6:23 pm


People who argue about the “conspicuous consumption” of large and roomy homes leave me cold. Would you rather the neighborhoods crumble away like so much of New York to keep it feeling “heimische”? Bigger homes mean more taxes and increasing land values, both contributing to the improvement of the city. We need more upscale and safer neighborhoods. People with more to lose take better care of what they have, and are less likely to support the kinds of socialist, racist and confiscatory policies that plagued New York during the anti-semitic reign of “General” David Dinkins and Al Sharpton. We have come too far and struggled too hard to re-consign ourselves to cramped and filthy ghettos. It is those who accept the romantic view of the past unquestioningly who are the isolated and insular.



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drew

posted October 24, 2006 at 6:34 pm


It’s important to note that this trend is happening everywhere in America, not just Jewish America and certainly not just New York. While I understand that it’s better to be in the neighborhood than to leave it to decay, I wonder about the results on the rest of us. My wife and I are Jewish, but we are not wealthy. We will never be able to afford to live in the suburban Chicago town where our families live because all the McMansions have driven up the housing prices. Neither can the teachers, police, or other civil servants. So our soon-to-be-born child will not be able to spend as much time with his grandparents. For that matter, he will not be able to spend as much time with his parents, since we will both have to work to keep the house we can afford. I guess this is all my fault for not going to med school, huh?



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Dave

posted October 24, 2006 at 7:00 pm


Er… um… maybe some of these Jewish families own McMansion because they have lots of kids and need the space. While large families are not he norm among the non-O Jews we can thank G-d that that there is a place for (some) large Jewish families to live in.



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Dave

posted October 24, 2006 at 7:00 pm


Er… um… maybe some of these Jewish families own McMansion because they have lots of kids and need the space. While large families are not he norm among the non-O Jews we can thank G-d that that there is a place for (some) large Jewish families to live in.



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senlin

posted October 24, 2006 at 7:38 pm


I’m sorry, but I really believe there is ultimately no good justification for McMansions. Even the comment about large Orthodox families needing more space leaves me skeptical — haven’t there always been families with many children? Yet we have never had single homes that are this big. McMansions are ultimately destructive to the environment (both natural and social), and they continue to feed our desire for ever-larger, ever-more-comfortable surroundings. The fact that they are keeping some families in the city is a double-edged sword, and besides, the vast majority of McMansions are still going into “exurbs” — ever more distant suburbs. I find it sad that people fear the only option to an obnoxious McMansion is a “cramped and filthy ghetto.” We are throwing too many babies out with the bathwater of urban planning. We need cities that are clean and safe as well as economically and socially progressive. We need to think hard about what it means that the “American dream” is intrinsically connected to conspicuous consumption. If wealthy Jews continue to justify their desire for an indulgent suburban life, then I truly hope we can get some new prophets to shake some sense into our people.



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Stephanie

posted October 24, 2006 at 7:40 pm


Why begrudge people who can afford to live the way they want to live? I am far from rich, and live in a very modest home in a modest neighborhood, but there are members in my congregation who are very wealthy. They live in the types of homes that Rabbi Grossman describes, and they are also the biggest contributors of their money and time to our synagogue. Their generous contributions enable my daughter and I to worship and be a part of a strong Jewish community. I have learned never to judge a person’s heart by his net worth.



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Stephanie

posted October 24, 2006 at 7:40 pm


Why begrudge people who can afford to live the way they want to live? I am far from rich, and live in a very modest home in a modest neighborhood, but there are members in my congregation who are very wealthy. They live in the types of homes that Rabbi Grossman describes, and they are also the biggest contributors of their money and time to our synagogue. Their generous contributions enable my daughter and I to worship and be a part of a strong Jewish community. I have learned never to judge a person’s heart by his net worth.



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seamus

posted October 24, 2006 at 9:53 pm


it’s all really just conspicuous consumerism. these “homes” aren’t even aesthetically attractive, but that isn’t the point. the point is to stand out. enjoy your castle.



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seamus

posted October 24, 2006 at 9:53 pm


it’s all really just conspicuous consumerism. these “homes” aren’t even aesthetically attractive, but that isn’t the point. the point is to stand out. enjoy your castle.



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pghshiksa

posted October 24, 2006 at 11:03 pm


I was glad to see this posting. I often express my disgust towards not only McMansions, but also excessive development of condos and strip malls. How many more Wal-Marts (no disrespect) do we need? If we had less stores wouldn’t the stores that existed (like those that used to be in downtowns) make more money and allow others to earn more money, too? And like the other postings, I, too, worry about the environment. People move to the suburbs for trees and nature to (some degree), and everywhere around me the trees are being replaced with condos and grocery stores and the hills are removed or covered with hydroseed and a few bushes or huge cement retaining walls. We are truly a society of many glutons – and I often wonder if this is how it was in Rome and other world empires before their respective “falls.” Did too many citizens of these great civilizations eventually become so self-centered, turning nationalism from “all for one” to “the one who wants it all?”



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ann

posted October 25, 2006 at 1:09 am


so let us be creative & constructive about this. when i returned from living on a kibbutz in Israel, i came back with a vision of an urban kibbutz, more-or-less a co-op model of housing, where there is a communal kitchen, and each separate familly unit still has their own kitchen, a sanctuary (or at least proximity to one), day care, elder care, libraries, games rooms, etc, other services and programmes, etc. a fully developed jewish community with all the generations sharing a jewish life within the centre of the city where the costs of living are, or have already escalated. even in my small (relative to Ocean Park, etc., i imagine) community we have a Jewish Building Society that could possibly be convinced to assist with the financing. perhaps the owners of these McMansions would be willing to take on the challenge of creating such communities. b’shalom, :) ann



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ann

posted October 25, 2006 at 1:09 am


so let us be creative & constructive about this. when i returned from living on a kibbutz in Israel, i came back with a vision of an urban kibbutz, more-or-less a co-op model of housing, where there is a communal kitchen, and each separate familly unit still has their own kitchen, a sanctuary (or at least proximity to one), day care, elder care, libraries, games rooms, etc, other services and programmes, etc. a fully developed jewish community with all the generations sharing a jewish life within the centre of the city where the costs of living are, or have already escalated. even in my small (relative to Ocean Park, etc., i imagine) community we have a Jewish Building Society that could possibly be convinced to assist with the financing. perhaps the owners of these McMansions would be willing to take on the challenge of creating such communities. b’shalom, :) ann



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Walter7

posted October 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm


Oy! The McMansion is a frivolous waste of energy since so much must be expended to heat or cool such a place. Jews who build, buy, or live in such places by doing so increase teh amount of money we sent to our oil-rich enemies.



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Walter7

posted October 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm


Oy! The McMansion is a frivolous waste of energy since so much must be expended to heat or cool such a place. Jews who build, buy, or live in such places by doing so increase teh amount of money we sent to our oil-rich enemies.



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Cheryl E.

posted October 25, 2006 at 6:00 pm


The rabbi writes about how Jews arebuilding ‘McMansions.’ Surely, Jews aren’t the only ones to be building large beautiful homes. Just because someone builds a large beautiful home doesn’t mean that they have stopped giving tzedakah. They could very well be giving more tzedakah than before; even if it’s only because their accountant tells them that that is what they have to do for tax reasons.



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Cheryl E.

posted October 25, 2006 at 6:00 pm


The rabbi writes about how Jews arebuilding ‘McMansions.’ Surely, Jews aren’t the only ones to be building large beautiful homes. Just because someone builds a large beautiful home doesn’t mean that they have stopped giving tzedakah. They could very well be giving more tzedakah than before; even if it’s only because their accountant tells them that that is what they have to do for tax reasons.



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Jackie P.

posted October 25, 2006 at 8:07 pm


For those in favor of this consumerism, I think that you should realize that the McMansions Rabbi Grossman refers to are often 8000 square feet of space for a family of four. My row house is about 1100 square feet. Many families of 4 and 5 have lived comfortably (if a bit cramped at times) in these houses. If you compare the numbers above you may get a better perspective on the issue. As a Jew, and a retired schoolteacher, whose retirement income now qualifies me as being poor, I can say that while I always put charity at the top of my list – usually in the form of volunteering- I can tell you that many of the people I know who live in McMansions, do not. Having money to me is a gift and a responsibility. The purchase of a McMansion usually is done by those who only see wealth as a gift.



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Jackie P.

posted October 25, 2006 at 8:07 pm


For those in favor of this consumerism, I think that you should realize that the McMansions Rabbi Grossman refers to are often 8000 square feet of space for a family of four. My row house is about 1100 square feet. Many families of 4 and 5 have lived comfortably (if a bit cramped at times) in these houses. If you compare the numbers above you may get a better perspective on the issue. As a Jew, and a retired schoolteacher, whose retirement income now qualifies me as being poor, I can say that while I always put charity at the top of my list – usually in the form of volunteering- I can tell you that many of the people I know who live in McMansions, do not. Having money to me is a gift and a responsibility. The purchase of a McMansion usually is done by those who only see wealth as a gift.



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jonfox

posted October 26, 2006 at 6:30 pm


You all need to stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. The so-called “wasteful” McMansions so many of you are complaining about are more energy efficient and less costly to run than those romantic row houses so many writers here seem to be so in love with. Homeowners generally work hard to maintain a secure life. I firmly believe that our religion, and indeed any conception of a free society, requires as a First Tenet that people are welcome to live in the best neighborhood, and the best home, that they can afford. The only determination that should govern where people live is their income, and not their religion or their social status. Even then, they should be able to obtain the best housing they can afford that the market (and here I mean the cost of money and elgibility for such things as FHA, VA or subsidized mortgages) will allow. No one should live in a ghetto, event the self-imposed kind. Home Ownership is an indicia of freedom and should be promoted by all reasonable means. Thank God that we have not given away to government the power to punish what some “Bluenoses” may deem bad taste or excessive conspicuousness of wealth. The “right to be left alone”, enunciated in the 20th Century by the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice Mr. Brandeis, extends to all spheres of life, not just abortion and the other sacred cows of the liberal intelligentsia. How people lawfully spend their money is one of those spheres. The complainers in this line of thought all come across as a bunch of jealous Yentas with a hint of ignorance and a dash of class warfare. For the love of God, you should all get a life.



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jonfox

posted October 26, 2006 at 6:30 pm


You all need to stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. The so-called “wasteful” McMansions so many of you are complaining about are more energy efficient and less costly to run than those romantic row houses so many writers here seem to be so in love with. Homeowners generally work hard to maintain a secure life. I firmly believe that our religion, and indeed any conception of a free society, requires as a First Tenet that people are welcome to live in the best neighborhood, and the best home, that they can afford. The only determination that should govern where people live is their income, and not their religion or their social status. Even then, they should be able to obtain the best housing they can afford that the market (and here I mean the cost of money and elgibility for such things as FHA, VA or subsidized mortgages) will allow. No one should live in a ghetto, event the self-imposed kind. Home Ownership is an indicia of freedom and should be promoted by all reasonable means. Thank God that we have not given away to government the power to punish what some “Bluenoses” may deem bad taste or excessive conspicuousness of wealth. The “right to be left alone”, enunciated in the 20th Century by the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice Mr. Brandeis, extends to all spheres of life, not just abortion and the other sacred cows of the liberal intelligentsia. How people lawfully spend their money is one of those spheres. The complainers in this line of thought all come across as a bunch of jealous Yentas with a hint of ignorance and a dash of class warfare. For the love of God, you should all get a life.



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comment

posted October 26, 2006 at 7:43 pm


I agree with the previous poster who described this as “liberal kool-aid.” If any other religon or ethnicity were charged with the “disgrace” of having a large home, or “McMansion” the poster of that message would be hunted down, outed, and charged with the most aggregious form of racism. If you don’t believe me, just subsitute any other race or religon for Jewish, and see how it sounds. Even commenting on this is ridiculous–Let me get this right, you are dismayed by the Orthodox because they move into a crumbling neighborhood, buy a wreck, repair it, and bring up the property values? Have we all really come to the point when our self-hatred is so enourmous that we hate ourselves for our apparent success? Do you actually think that someone is a better person because they drive a less expensive car? The 3 rabbis who commented on this should be ashamed of themselves–and as the previous individual has stated, “GET A LIFE.”



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comment

posted October 26, 2006 at 7:43 pm


I agree with the previous poster who described this as “liberal kool-aid.” If any other religon or ethnicity were charged with the “disgrace” of having a large home, or “McMansion” the poster of that message would be hunted down, outed, and charged with the most aggregious form of racism. If you don’t believe me, just subsitute any other race or religon for Jewish, and see how it sounds. Even commenting on this is ridiculous–Let me get this right, you are dismayed by the Orthodox because they move into a crumbling neighborhood, buy a wreck, repair it, and bring up the property values? Have we all really come to the point when our self-hatred is so enourmous that we hate ourselves for our apparent success? Do you actually think that someone is a better person because they drive a less expensive car? The 3 rabbis who commented on this should be ashamed of themselves–and as the previous individual has stated, “GET A LIFE.”



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 3:54 am


You all need to stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. You should stop making ignorant, hateful comments if you wish to be taken seriously. extends to all spheres of life, not just abortion and the other sacred cows of the liberal intelligentsia. Wow. Twice the ignorance, pointless statements and complete irrelevance all in one post! How lovely!



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 3:54 am


You all need to stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. You should stop making ignorant, hateful comments if you wish to be taken seriously. extends to all spheres of life, not just abortion and the other sacred cows of the liberal intelligentsia. Wow. Twice the ignorance, pointless statements and complete irrelevance all in one post! How lovely!



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 3:58 am


If any other religon or ethnicity were charged with the “disgrace” of having a large home, or “McMansion” the poster of that message would be hunted down, outed, and charged with the most aggregious form of racism. Completely untrue. In my state, everyone is complaining about the McMansions going up in what were otherwise modest neighborhoods, no matter who owns them. Further, I spent several years of my life a mere four blocks from what is described in the article. These structures in no way resemble the rest of the neighborhood and stand out like sore thumbs. If you want to make a point about Orthodox and consumerism and McMansions, then fine. Leave your petty, narrow-minded, irrelevant political snipes out.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 3:58 am


If any other religon or ethnicity were charged with the “disgrace” of having a large home, or “McMansion” the poster of that message would be hunted down, outed, and charged with the most aggregious form of racism. Completely untrue. In my state, everyone is complaining about the McMansions going up in what were otherwise modest neighborhoods, no matter who owns them. Further, I spent several years of my life a mere four blocks from what is described in the article. These structures in no way resemble the rest of the neighborhood and stand out like sore thumbs. If you want to make a point about Orthodox and consumerism and McMansions, then fine. Leave your petty, narrow-minded, irrelevant political snipes out.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 27, 2006 at 4:44 pm


My, my, my – what a lot of “to do” about something that is really non of our business. borders on “Lashon Hora”, I think. The bank accounts of my fellow Jews and how they give Tzedakah is NOT between me and “them’. Batoch HaShem for those among us who are finanically blessed. A “Tzedak enplet” happens. (A righteous person or a person who preceives themselves to be righteous standing around in cold weather in warm fur while his fellow Jews not so well off are frezzing in their cloth coats.) I can understand why this is a concern for Rabbi’s who feel like they have to pry donations from us to survive. I am remindeed of some verses from Psalm 34 – verse 20: “How abundant is Your good that you have hidden for those who fear You; IN THE PRESENCE OF MAN.” As for Orthodox bashing or any Jew bashing I am reminded of verse 19 of the same Psalm: ‘Let the lips of falsehood which speak insolently against the righteous, with ARROGANCE AND CONTEMPT be struck dumb. AND – a Chabad thought: “Love your fellow human beings as you love yourself means: Just as you cover your own sins and short comings with your selflove, so should ou cover the short comings of others with your love for them.” It’s Friday – Shabbat Shalom everyone.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 27, 2006 at 4:44 pm


My, my, my – what a lot of “to do” about something that is really non of our business. borders on “Lashon Hora”, I think. The bank accounts of my fellow Jews and how they give Tzedakah is NOT between me and “them’. Batoch HaShem for those among us who are finanically blessed. A “Tzedak enplet” happens. (A righteous person or a person who preceives themselves to be righteous standing around in cold weather in warm fur while his fellow Jews not so well off are frezzing in their cloth coats.) I can understand why this is a concern for Rabbi’s who feel like they have to pry donations from us to survive. I am remindeed of some verses from Psalm 34 – verse 20: “How abundant is Your good that you have hidden for those who fear You; IN THE PRESENCE OF MAN.” As for Orthodox bashing or any Jew bashing I am reminded of verse 19 of the same Psalm: ‘Let the lips of falsehood which speak insolently against the righteous, with ARROGANCE AND CONTEMPT be struck dumb. AND – a Chabad thought: “Love your fellow human beings as you love yourself means: Just as you cover your own sins and short comings with your selflove, so should ou cover the short comings of others with your love for them.” It’s Friday – Shabbat Shalom everyone.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 6:14 pm


Shabat Shalom to you, too, Chana. For me, it’s not a matter of Orthodox bashing, specifically. It’s the McMansion thing and how it affects the neighborhood. It very much impacts the county (no longer in B’klyn, NY) where I live now, whose occupants definitely run the religious gamut. And I don’t think I’m trying to put it down, although I realize it probably seems that way. It’s the impact on the neighborhoods surrounding the area. It’s not as clear cut as “well, this house is nice, so maybe others in the neighborhood will sell for more”. Very often, that’s not the case, as the house is an aberration where it sits. On the other hand, if the occupants have and want to spend that kind of dough, A Bi Gezunt, I guess, but I also understand, having grown up VERY modestly a few blocks from this re-vamped neighborhood, why some of the neighbors might be somewhat taken aback. It’s only meant as a observation, not as a put-down.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 27, 2006 at 6:14 pm


Shabat Shalom to you, too, Chana. For me, it’s not a matter of Orthodox bashing, specifically. It’s the McMansion thing and how it affects the neighborhood. It very much impacts the county (no longer in B’klyn, NY) where I live now, whose occupants definitely run the religious gamut. And I don’t think I’m trying to put it down, although I realize it probably seems that way. It’s the impact on the neighborhoods surrounding the area. It’s not as clear cut as “well, this house is nice, so maybe others in the neighborhood will sell for more”. Very often, that’s not the case, as the house is an aberration where it sits. On the other hand, if the occupants have and want to spend that kind of dough, A Bi Gezunt, I guess, but I also understand, having grown up VERY modestly a few blocks from this re-vamped neighborhood, why some of the neighbors might be somewhat taken aback. It’s only meant as a observation, not as a put-down.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 28, 2006 at 12:53 am


Thank you, Eastcoast I am a westerner- good ‘ol materialistic and fast paced So. Calif. -San Diego area and I have been in grand houses where maids served the festive meal and in modest apartments (like mine) where love and mitzvot was the wealth. I do not relate to having great wealth – but who knows I may be the same if I walked in their shoes! Touring So. Cal. neighborhoods that are extremely affluent is mind-blowing, – massive houses – glorious gardens – wow – but usually done in good taste. No one place really stands out as more grand than the other – they are all grand. I always wonder who the residents are and how they managed to arrive where they are – I just hope they are happy and appreciate their blessings. As for specific Jewish neighborhoods – can’t afford to live there myself, but they do not look out of the ordinary and with the diversity here in CA I really don’t think really is a specific Jewish neighborhood except in L.A.- just some of us can afford to live near the Shull.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 28, 2006 at 12:53 am


Thank you, Eastcoast I am a westerner- good ‘ol materialistic and fast paced So. Calif. -San Diego area and I have been in grand houses where maids served the festive meal and in modest apartments (like mine) where love and mitzvot was the wealth. I do not relate to having great wealth – but who knows I may be the same if I walked in their shoes! Touring So. Cal. neighborhoods that are extremely affluent is mind-blowing, – massive houses – glorious gardens – wow – but usually done in good taste. No one place really stands out as more grand than the other – they are all grand. I always wonder who the residents are and how they managed to arrive where they are – I just hope they are happy and appreciate their blessings. As for specific Jewish neighborhoods – can’t afford to live there myself, but they do not look out of the ordinary and with the diversity here in CA I really don’t think really is a specific Jewish neighborhood except in L.A.- just some of us can afford to live near the Shull.



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comment

posted October 28, 2006 at 9:13 pm


“Leave your petty, narrow-minded, irrelevant political snipes out.” I see that the liberal-facists have arrived. Why didn’t you tell us that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to this chat? Since you’re so concerned with suppressing any thought that contradicts your accepted liberal agenda, you should just post upfront: (1) The accepted political thoughts and political parties in this discussion; (2) That anything that doesn’t conform with your thoughts will be met with name-calling and a threat to be banished from this chat; (3) The topics to which you will allow opposing viewpoints. It also might be helpful to explore some of the enormous Jewish self-hatred set forth in this discussion. Do you people actually mean to suggest that a Jewish home that is large and suggestive of apparent wealth could not also be rich in love and mitzvot? Are you really talking about your concern regarding the “McMansion” ruining the neighborhood aesthetic or is this much more about your jealousy of the apparent success of the McMansion’s owner? Other than having a large home, what horrible thing have this people done?



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comment

posted October 28, 2006 at 9:13 pm


“Leave your petty, narrow-minded, irrelevant political snipes out.” I see that the liberal-facists have arrived. Why didn’t you tell us that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to this chat? Since you’re so concerned with suppressing any thought that contradicts your accepted liberal agenda, you should just post upfront: (1) The accepted political thoughts and political parties in this discussion; (2) That anything that doesn’t conform with your thoughts will be met with name-calling and a threat to be banished from this chat; (3) The topics to which you will allow opposing viewpoints. It also might be helpful to explore some of the enormous Jewish self-hatred set forth in this discussion. Do you people actually mean to suggest that a Jewish home that is large and suggestive of apparent wealth could not also be rich in love and mitzvot? Are you really talking about your concern regarding the “McMansion” ruining the neighborhood aesthetic or is this much more about your jealousy of the apparent success of the McMansion’s owner? Other than having a large home, what horrible thing have this people done?



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eastcoastlady

posted October 28, 2006 at 11:20 pm


Dear comment, Trying to appear reasonable by calmly calling those who differ with you “liberal fascist” does nothing for your so-called argument. All you are doing is showing a narrow-minded, political point of view where it in fact has absolutely no relevance whatsoever. But declaim away, if it makes you feel better.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 28, 2006 at 11:20 pm


Dear comment, Trying to appear reasonable by calmly calling those who differ with you “liberal fascist” does nothing for your so-called argument. All you are doing is showing a narrow-minded, political point of view where it in fact has absolutely no relevance whatsoever. But declaim away, if it makes you feel better.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 29, 2006 at 4:03 pm


I just spent a lovely Shabbos at the home of the alter Rebbi and Rebitzin of the Chabad Shull were I attend services, being 11 miles away, need to drive. It was a real treat to be invited to walk to their home – a more “shomer” Shabbos for me – an “Orthordox at heart lady”. I am sure their home was chosen to accomadate guests – as they have a large family and freguent overnight guests. I would call it a fairly modest home with lots of book cases linning the walls, with plenty of room for a large table and a super size TV and an up-stairs. With the essence of Shabbat in the air it certainly did not occur to me to judge my hosts on the value of their home – which I am sure is very high in the middle class neighborhood in which they live. Why are we concerned with the homes of the Orthodox anyway? This elderly couple with their love for fellow Jews and dedication to the Chabad movement deserve the blessings of HaShem if you ask me. This topic has sure generated a lot of comments! hehe – Kinda of shows us, as a people: Are we Coveteous? Are we jealous? Are we mean spitirted? Are we condeming? Are we angry? Are we judmental spies? Do we think we need to play the part that only HaShem should have in the lives of our fellow Jews? Are we so low in our own self-esteem we need to build ourselves up by slamming the wealthy? Its all nuts if you ask me. I learned from our hostess who is originally from N.Y. that Calif. is slow and laid back – not fast – as I posted earlier -( I was thinking of the freeways.) I have never been to N.Y. (Yet) I also learned that in N.Y. people dress up everyday, not just on Shabbos. There is a big emphasis on clothes. A Jewish woman (heaven forbid) was caught stealing clothes because she feared her children would not be accepted if not dressed like the “Jones’s”! Maybe this topic has been good as it seems as Jews we all need to serioulsy ponder our values. The American cultue can affect any religiours culture in the negative I think. Or maybe it’s just human nature. Whatever it is we need to leave it in the hands of a power much higher that ours, I think, and take care of our own space and ability to do mitzvot whatever that is, whatever branch of Judaism we have choosen. Shvo-a-tov all. HaShem’s blessings to all.



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Chana Silverman

posted October 29, 2006 at 4:03 pm


I just spent a lovely Shabbos at the home of the alter Rebbi and Rebitzin of the Chabad Shull were I attend services, being 11 miles away, need to drive. It was a real treat to be invited to walk to their home – a more “shomer” Shabbos for me – an “Orthordox at heart lady”. I am sure their home was chosen to accomadate guests – as they have a large family and freguent overnight guests. I would call it a fairly modest home with lots of book cases linning the walls, with plenty of room for a large table and a super size TV and an up-stairs. With the essence of Shabbat in the air it certainly did not occur to me to judge my hosts on the value of their home – which I am sure is very high in the middle class neighborhood in which they live. Why are we concerned with the homes of the Orthodox anyway? This elderly couple with their love for fellow Jews and dedication to the Chabad movement deserve the blessings of HaShem if you ask me. This topic has sure generated a lot of comments! hehe – Kinda of shows us, as a people: Are we Coveteous? Are we jealous? Are we mean spitirted? Are we condeming? Are we angry? Are we judmental spies? Do we think we need to play the part that only HaShem should have in the lives of our fellow Jews? Are we so low in our own self-esteem we need to build ourselves up by slamming the wealthy? Its all nuts if you ask me. I learned from our hostess who is originally from N.Y. that Calif. is slow and laid back – not fast – as I posted earlier -( I was thinking of the freeways.) I have never been to N.Y. (Yet) I also learned that in N.Y. people dress up everyday, not just on Shabbos. There is a big emphasis on clothes. A Jewish woman (heaven forbid) was caught stealing clothes because she feared her children would not be accepted if not dressed like the “Jones’s”! Maybe this topic has been good as it seems as Jews we all need to serioulsy ponder our values. The American cultue can affect any religiours culture in the negative I think. Or maybe it’s just human nature. Whatever it is we need to leave it in the hands of a power much higher that ours, I think, and take care of our own space and ability to do mitzvot whatever that is, whatever branch of Judaism we have choosen. Shvo-a-tov all. HaShem’s blessings to all.



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jonfox

posted October 30, 2006 at 5:45 pm


Obviously, I’ve struck a nerve. It’s good to see that all those “Politically Correct” and Oh-so-Sensitive Yenta Hausfraus in their college years during the ’60′s and ’70′s found a home after the Clinton Years. Unfortunately, from the look of these discussions, that home is here. You all need to get over the idea that capitalism is bad. You also need to get over the idea that there is something inherently evil about people enjoying their lives in a way that doesn’t involve politically correct hair shirt misery. Free will and choice are an essential element of our religion. That essentiality extends to all aspects of life, and not just to Daddy having a Boyfriend or little Moshe having two Mommies. Criticizing the exercise of free will and personal choice to aspects of life you don’t approve of, while insisting that your priorities (and your priorities alone) are deserving of protection, is hypocritical and phony. Once again, exactly the kind of thing a clucking busybody with too much time on their hands would consider morality, and exactly the kind of corrosive jealousy that our religion can ill afford and deserves, no demands, to be called out. I frankly don’t give a damn whether I hurt anybody’s feelings or not in my observations on this matter. The fact of the matter is, we don’t criticize wrongs or promote self-evident right often enough. Most of our religion is so busy trying to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings that we’ve succumbed to accepting increasingly offensive behavior as the norm. We accept increasing anti-semitism because we’re afraid that confronting it, and the other attendant evils in the world, will only make folks angrier. According to so many of our own, ignoring evil will make it go away, and those who make a fuss are only judgmental and inflexible. Suicidally wrong in the 1930′s, and wrong now. As a religion and a people, we need to put aside the inward looking “Holier Than Thou” attitude that leads to worthless discussions like this and concentrate on far more important issues. Nonsense like this detracts from the more important issues at hand, and emphasizes the trivializing demasculinization and increasing feminization of our religion. So go ahead, let the furious ad hominem attacks begin.



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jonfox

posted October 30, 2006 at 5:45 pm


Obviously, I’ve struck a nerve. It’s good to see that all those “Politically Correct” and Oh-so-Sensitive Yenta Hausfraus in their college years during the ’60′s and ’70′s found a home after the Clinton Years. Unfortunately, from the look of these discussions, that home is here. You all need to get over the idea that capitalism is bad. You also need to get over the idea that there is something inherently evil about people enjoying their lives in a way that doesn’t involve politically correct hair shirt misery. Free will and choice are an essential element of our religion. That essentiality extends to all aspects of life, and not just to Daddy having a Boyfriend or little Moshe having two Mommies. Criticizing the exercise of free will and personal choice to aspects of life you don’t approve of, while insisting that your priorities (and your priorities alone) are deserving of protection, is hypocritical and phony. Once again, exactly the kind of thing a clucking busybody with too much time on their hands would consider morality, and exactly the kind of corrosive jealousy that our religion can ill afford and deserves, no demands, to be called out. I frankly don’t give a damn whether I hurt anybody’s feelings or not in my observations on this matter. The fact of the matter is, we don’t criticize wrongs or promote self-evident right often enough. Most of our religion is so busy trying to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings that we’ve succumbed to accepting increasingly offensive behavior as the norm. We accept increasing anti-semitism because we’re afraid that confronting it, and the other attendant evils in the world, will only make folks angrier. According to so many of our own, ignoring evil will make it go away, and those who make a fuss are only judgmental and inflexible. Suicidally wrong in the 1930′s, and wrong now. As a religion and a people, we need to put aside the inward looking “Holier Than Thou” attitude that leads to worthless discussions like this and concentrate on far more important issues. Nonsense like this detracts from the more important issues at hand, and emphasizes the trivializing demasculinization and increasing feminization of our religion. So go ahead, let the furious ad hominem attacks begin.



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eastcoastlady

posted October 30, 2006 at 7:49 pm


…and emphasizes the (?)trivializing(?) demasculinization and increasing feminization of our religion. Gee whiz, jonfox, you say this as though it’s a bad thing… (no fury or ad hominem in that post, right?)



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eastcoastlady

posted October 30, 2006 at 7:49 pm


…and emphasizes the (?)trivializing(?) demasculinization and increasing feminization of our religion. Gee whiz, jonfox, you say this as though it’s a bad thing… (no fury or ad hominem in that post, right?)



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Chaplain (MAJ) Stanley HOWARD

posted November 4, 2006 at 12:24 pm


Rabbi Grossman, From 1986-89, while I was the US Army Jewish Chaplain in Stuttgart, DE, I met Larry Kaufman, who was a committed Jewish young man, working at Patch Barracks. Years later I learned that he had married a rabbi and settled in Columbia, MD. Now that I’ve happened on your blog, I’m wondering if you are that rabbi? If so, I would love to re-establish the friendship. i’m now retired and remarried in Daytona Beach, FL. IF you are the couple, I look forward eaagerly to a reply. SHABBAT SHALOM Howard



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Chaplain (MAJ) Stanley HOWARD

posted November 4, 2006 at 12:24 pm


Rabbi Grossman, From 1986-89, while I was the US Army Jewish Chaplain in Stuttgart, DE, I met Larry Kaufman, who was a committed Jewish young man, working at Patch Barracks. Years later I learned that he had married a rabbi and settled in Columbia, MD. Now that I’ve happened on your blog, I’m wondering if you are that rabbi? If so, I would love to re-establish the friendship. i’m now retired and remarried in Daytona Beach, FL. IF you are the couple, I look forward eaagerly to a reply. SHABBAT SHALOM Howard



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Anonymous

posted November 4, 2006 at 2:10 pm


There is an Irish saying, “A Man’s Grasp Should Exceed His Arm….Or What’s A Heaven For?” I have always felt that the more you have, the more you can give away to help others. I firmly beiieve in “my” version of the Vulcan Greeting in “Star Trek”: “Live Long and Prosper….and help others to do the same!” In an article for HADASSAH Magazine some time back, Mr. Nimoy stated that the Vulcans in Star Trek were a thinly disguised way of portraying the Jews. I see nothing wrong with this….or my above extention of the Vulcan greeting! As long as those with “McMansions”, (Jews and everyone else), also contribute to their own versions of “Ronald McDonald Houses”, (ie: charity), I see nothing wrong with building the best places they can afford. Of course, there ALSO is the traditional Jewish ideal of NEVER buying ANY house….but only renting an apartment….because one may want to go to Eretz Yisroel the moment it becomes holy enough and available to go to. Many orthodox Jews still have this mindset— and that’s OK with me, as long as they don’t push this idea on those of us who don’t agree with it. I was once innocently taking a walk around my garden apartment neighbourhood. I shared a 5-room co-op apartment, (975 square feet), with my mother…as my sister had married and my father had died. A woman I barely knew came up to me and said, “Gee, that’s a pretty big apartment for only 2 people!” I was tired, and didn’t want to spend too much time with this “bud-insky”, so I said, ‘Maybe you’re right’….and walked away as fast as I could. I am now in the process of acquiring a 1500 square foot condo for myself, alone. It is NOT a McMansion…but I do hope to get one, some day. Will I? I don’t know….but at least I can have happy moments dreaming of it. The traditional Jewish “tseducka”, (charity) is 15-20%. No more. says Jewish tradition…or you won’t have anything for yourself. I figure, the more I have, the more I can give away! Peace!



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Anonymous

posted November 4, 2006 at 2:10 pm


There is an Irish saying, “A Man’s Grasp Should Exceed His Arm….Or What’s A Heaven For?” I have always felt that the more you have, the more you can give away to help others. I firmly beiieve in “my” version of the Vulcan Greeting in “Star Trek”: “Live Long and Prosper….and help others to do the same!” In an article for HADASSAH Magazine some time back, Mr. Nimoy stated that the Vulcans in Star Trek were a thinly disguised way of portraying the Jews. I see nothing wrong with this….or my above extention of the Vulcan greeting! As long as those with “McMansions”, (Jews and everyone else), also contribute to their own versions of “Ronald McDonald Houses”, (ie: charity), I see nothing wrong with building the best places they can afford. Of course, there ALSO is the traditional Jewish ideal of NEVER buying ANY house….but only renting an apartment….because one may want to go to Eretz Yisroel the moment it becomes holy enough and available to go to. Many orthodox Jews still have this mindset— and that’s OK with me, as long as they don’t push this idea on those of us who don’t agree with it. I was once innocently taking a walk around my garden apartment neighbourhood. I shared a 5-room co-op apartment, (975 square feet), with my mother…as my sister had married and my father had died. A woman I barely knew came up to me and said, “Gee, that’s a pretty big apartment for only 2 people!” I was tired, and didn’t want to spend too much time with this “bud-insky”, so I said, ‘Maybe you’re right’….and walked away as fast as I could. I am now in the process of acquiring a 1500 square foot condo for myself, alone. It is NOT a McMansion…but I do hope to get one, some day. Will I? I don’t know….but at least I can have happy moments dreaming of it. The traditional Jewish “tseducka”, (charity) is 15-20%. No more. says Jewish tradition…or you won’t have anything for yourself. I figure, the more I have, the more I can give away! Peace!



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