Anat Ghelber
Anat Ghelber

Religious Jews Are Not So Bad

Calm down everyone.

Religious people are not so bad.

Take a deep breath…in and out.

What’s with all the negative news about religious people all the time?

(Actually, if you think about it, it’s really nothing new.)

I’ve been hearing negative things about religious people for as long as I could remember, whether it was at home, at school, on the news, or with friends.

The type of things I’d hear people say about anyone devoutly religious were:

“They don’t go into the army.”

“All they do is pray all day.”

“They live off the government.”

“They’re all liars.”

“They think God belongs to them,” and so on and so forth.

So, as you can imagine, hearing all these negative things about religious people growing up also made me think and feel negative things about them myself.

Until, of course, I had real interactions with them.

The first positive interaction I had with a religious person in New York was with a woman named Chava.

She was not only nice to me, she saved my life.

Other than that, there were other incidents as well with religious people (Charedim.)

When I first came to New York, I went through a very difficult transition.

I was a very young girl.

I didn’t have a job or any money.

The people who helped me were the religious people, to be more specific, the people who are considered to be Charedi.

There were many incidents where I have seen Charedim literally act like angels.

There was this one time I was in huge debt, and I was talking to this religious man about it, just telling him what I was going through in general.

I didn’t expect him to help me in any way whatsoever.

I was just sharing my personal experiences.

He called me a couple hours later with the exact sum of money I needed to pay my debt.

I was shocked by the goodness of his heart.

He lent me the money, and then he came back and explained to me that he collected the money for me because he didn’t have food to eat and he wanted Hashem to see that he was helping another Jew, so that Hashem could help him and his family have enough food to eat in return.

There were many other miracles with religious people in New York, and although I don’t think that being religious makes you a good or a bad person, I will not lie. The people who helped me the most, were the Charedim.

When I was broken, and didn’t have a place to go, they welcomed me with open arms, simply because I’m Jewish.

The stories they told me on Shabbat inspired me when I was at a low point and depressed.

They taught me to believe in something when I felt that there was no hope, and here is my chance to say to you, religious people and Charedim, thank you so much.

You are amazing.

You supported me.

You were there for me.

You were my mother and my father.

You led me the right way, even though I wasn’t faithful.

When I needed a place to come to, you welcomed me with no judgement.

Indeed, there are many gracious, beautiful acts in the religious community, specifically the Charedi community.

They almost never leave any Jews behind.

There are many food pantries where a hungry Jew can just take as much as he wants.

Actually, the person doesn’t even have to be Jewish.

They can just go in and say that they’re hungry and say that they need food.

There is a Kosher restaurant called Hamasbia.

It’s a Kosher restaurant that serves free, warm meals.

It was created by the Charedim.

Again, anyone can go in there, whether they’re Jewish or not.

Another beautiful thing in the religious community is that people can ask for Tzdakah without feeling ashamed, because it’s totally acceptable.

In the eyes of the community, whatever happens to us is all Hashgaha Peratit.

It’s all from Hashem and the only one who can judge us is the Almighty.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying that religion makes someone good but, for sure, it doesn’t make them bad either.

Why are we bad-mouthing religious people all the time?

We have to stop doing this crap.

If a man with a kippah, who keeps Shabbat, is doing something bad, that’s on him.

Let’s not start saying, ”Oh, it’s because he’s religious.”

Let’s not refer to him as “this religious man.”

(I mean, c’mon, it’s not like anyone is born with a kippah on their head.)

He’s a jerk because he’s a jerk.

Let’s put it this way:

He’s not a jerk because he’s religious.

So let’s judge people individually.

And once and for all, I beg you, please, stop spreading lies about religious people…

(from a Jewish girl who grew up secular.)

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