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We are considering buying a house in a suburban Philadelphia neighborhood that has a large Jewish population (we are not Jewish)and are wondering if we would be welcome there. Are there special considerations we should be aware of when meeting and interacting with Jewish neighbors, taking into consideration Jewish law? For example, my wife said hello to a man walking with his children, but he did not respond to her, and we were told it was a law that men should not talk to women they do not know who are not part of their family. Are there some basic rules we should know?

  • This is an interesting and important question as it will help sensitize you to the particulars of that new neighborhood (the range of opinions regarding interactions, physical and otherwise, the food issues etc.) However, on this site, it might not be answerable as it isn't about Judaism per se, nor can anyone speak for the opinions of people we haven't met. A more generic question about the Jewish laws would be more on topic (do a quick search -- I sense that there are already some questions on that topic around). Good luck! – rosends Oct 30 '17 at 16:24
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    hmmm, yes, I see the difficulty in this question. I guess a better question might be "are there specific Jewish laws governing the interaction with Gentiles" that we should be aware of, so as not to create animosity by transgressing them, or showing our ignorance of such laws. – Sparrow Oct 30 '17 at 16:35
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    (@Sparrow For the record, please don't take efforts here to get your post to fit well into our Q&A model as an indication that you're currently doing something wrong in approaching your new neighborhood. If people are behaving or speaking unwelcomingly, that's on them. That said, I heartily applaud your efforts to be sensitive to your neighbors' sensibilities.) – Isaac Moses Oct 30 '17 at 16:55
  • Adding to rosends's comment, I would make a general rule, adapted from a Jewish founding principle - "Love your neighbor as yourself." On a simple understanding, it means be kind and neighborly, as you would to any other person you would meet. A smile and simple, "Hello" is always a good start. If you get to better know someone, you can always offer to help with grocery shopping, carrying packages, offering a ride to the store or doctor's appointment. I think you get the general sense that acts of kindness is a human commonality. Jews are no different, here. – DanF Oct 30 '17 at 17:15
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    Not replying to a passerby's greeting may be regional rather than Jewish. I've lived in New York and St. Louis. In the latter, it's very common to greet strangers in the street; in the former, its very rare. That said, I don't know Philadelphia. – msh210 Oct 30 '17 at 17:29
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You can choose to live wherever you want to buy/rent a house with all our Blessings. It is not our country and we are grateful for citizens like Yourself who respect our rights to live in exile in the USA. In our prayers every Sabbath,we Bless the "Kingdom of kindness" for giving us equal rights living among the kind Gentile citizens like yourselves.

With regards to how to act with your neighbors, there are varying walks of Judaism adhering to varying standards and you will learn with time how to interact with them and recognize different levels of Orthodoxy among the Jewish neighbors. Even then a smile always makes someone else's day and if they smile back that's great, If they nod they're still uplifted, and even if they don't respond its not a Defect with in yourselves G-d forbid, it could be they are just unsure what to do having not been used to smiles from others. What do we loose to judge others favorably! Though the mixing of genders might not be so prevalent among those who wear black and white for their strict religious adherence, they will still be courteous.

You will notice that on the Sabbath you might be in demand occasionally (not often, you don't need to disturb your routine at all for such errands) to come turn on the heating for families who's heating switched off accidentally, when you meet the rabbi i'm sure he'll give you a pep talk about such things.

Don't worry soon enough you will have expertise yourselves in how to live among Jews so with Blessings from all readers of this website have much success in your endeavors.

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  • Why doesn't this answer have more upvotes? – ezra Oct 30 '17 at 20:50
  • "In our prayers every Sabbath, we Bless the "Kingdom of kindness"" - Where do we do this, and how would this blessing relate to Gentiles? – DanF Oct 30 '17 at 21:23
  • I should add that OP should not be offended by a lack of response or a cold shoulder. Religious Jews prefer to be with their own friends and family esp. on Shabbat. – DanF Oct 30 '17 at 21:26

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