The Power of Hello

A friend once shared a story about a time that she took her grandchildren to the beach. She sat alone and noticed a group of women chatting nearby. She decided to approach them. Her Hello led to a “shidduch” between her daughter and the son of one of the women. Her motto “The Power of Hello!”

I am an introvert by nature, often reticent to approach strangers. However, over the past week, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, only to make new connections and friendships.

While walking on the Tayelet in Teveria last week, my husband and I observed a couple struggling to take a selfie. We approached, said Shalom, took a photo and within 5 minutes discovered not only that the woman’s aunt was a very close friend of my mother in Brookline, MA- her brother in law is married to our friend’s daughter-The Power of Hello.

We spent this past Shabbat in Yerucham, as an end of the year gathering of parents and the young men who completed 5 years of Hesder (combination yeshiva and army service). I recognized many of our son’s friends, who greeted us so warmly. Mothers, whose sons we have hosted over the years, came over to thank us for the hospitality. 

We were seated in the dining room, and I noticed a woman staring at me. She looked vaguely familiar. My old self would have just spent the weekend guessing-but now I felt like a superwoman with this new found power. I approached her and it turned out that we are “related”- her aunt was married to my uncle. We talked about our shared first cousins, our families. 

I rarely speak publicly. Although we have been in Israel for 30 years I still do not feel confident speaking in Hebrew. As Shabbat was coming to a close, parents, along with our sons, sat in a circle. We were asked to share a special experience from the years in yeshiva. I was surprised that my son spoke up and shared a memory of mine of his first day. He, like me, is quiet and I could not believe he had spoken up. The story though wasn’t quite right and I felt that I needed to tell it. And I did! I shared as well how everyone in the group is family, how I connected with a relative, and discovered that our 10th Grade chumash teacher at Maimonides School in Brookline, has a grandson studying with my son. Later, a woman approached me and said – “maybe we have a connection as well” and as it turned out her mother grew up with my aunt in Dorchester!

The connections continued at the small hotel in Yerucham. Saying Hello to a woman at the pool watching a group of teenagers turned out to be from Boston. We reconnected with the coordinator of the group, also a Maimonides graduate- Hello!!

We have now entered the 9 day period of heightened mourning leading up to Tisha B’av-the day the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. The sages say that the Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred. I hope that with the power of hello, if each of us reach out to one person and smile and say hello-we will create a better world.

So Hello- Shalom Salam

About the Author
Debra Weiner-Solomont is the coordinator of the Pardes Institute Community Education Program. She received her MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Debra along with her husband and sons came on aliyah from Brookline, MA, 27 years ago.
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