Jan 27, 2015
Have We Become Immune?
Illustration photo: Baruch Ezagui

From the COLlive inbox: A Crown Heights resident encounters an elderly man and a mom with a stroller a day after a snow storm - and wonders if we have forgotten something.

By Anonymous

To my dear neighbors of Crown Heights,

As we recover from an almost 'historical blizzard' and enjoy the beautiful scenery from our windows, there is one thing that's often overlooked. It seems that Crown Heights has become immune to our fellow neighbors, landlords and store owners who don't shovel the snow off their sidewalks.

I do want to point out and thank all those who consistently shovel their sidewalk, bundling up for the job and doing it properly. Many are lightly salted to avoid anyone slipping, and this is much appreciated. Thank you!

Today though, I walked behind an elderly man. He was dressed in full gear, but there are no boots yet created that will enable us to walk through a foot of un-shoveled, melting snow. Kicking his way through the snow, every few homes he had to slow down- way down- to navigate past yet another home owner who abandoned his responsibility.

A few minutes later I noticed a mother with a stroller. The sidewalk was partially cleared: it had a narrow path that measured 6 inches wide (I'm being generous), and had snow falling in from the walls of snow on each side. Even with her expensive, large wheels, she had to heave first the front, then the back of the stroller through. That was until someone kindly stopped and offered to help her.

Any individual- with or without a stroller, young or old- has a hard time walking through piles of un-shoveled snow. Once it's ice, it's more than inconvenient: it's real danger. No rubbers or boots are enough. Mothers have to literally pick up their strollers or small children to get through the snow. Although it has become standard, please understand that it's inconsiderate to leave the snow or ice outside your home. A shovel doesn't cost more than $15, and if you are unable to shovel- asking someone to do it for you is under $15 as well.

I don't want to tell on other Yidden, and certainly don't want to cause negative feelings among our community. When I pass a home that has a sidewalk full of slushy, dirty snow, or ice still sitting in the same place for over 12 hours, I assume that the home owner needs an extra push. Perhaps the only option would be to call 311 and report the address to the government.

Looking forward to safer and kinder streets,

Your neighbor

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Opinions and Comments
And if the mitzvah of "love thy neighbor" is not enough motivation for you....
It's downright against the law to fail to remove snow and/or ice from sidewalks on your property.

PLUS, if someone slips and falls on such a sidewalk at your house, you could be sued, and the person who fell has an excellent chance of winning!

And don't forget your having to live with knowing that your failure has caused pain and possibly worse to another human being, perhaps an elderly one, who may not easily heal from such a fall, C"V.
(1/28/2015 12:28:13 AM)
President St
The worst block after a snow storm is on President between Kingston and Brooklyn.

It's like that block has to choose between "Don't shovel at all" and "Make a winding path 4 that's only 4 inches wide"...yet the driveways and walkways are always spotless and salted...
(1/28/2015 12:29:58 AM)
how racist
From what ive seen, its the non-jewish homeowners who are very on top of shoveling their sidewalks, unlike the yidden
(1/28/2015 12:33:10 AM)
You are right, people should shovel, but many times those few houses are older people. Sometimes they are out of town (in Florida) and sometimes they are unable to do it themselves and they are not always home to hire someone to do it for them. That is usually the situation on my block with the houses that aren't shoveled. I wouldn't find it too considerate to call 311 on your fellow brothers.
(1/28/2015 12:33:58 AM)
Have we become immuned to Mesira
while I more than agree with the point and importance to shovel the snow I personally shoveled today before going to work and additionally paid someone to re shovel while I was away for the day... However the last sentence of calling 311 on a yid is disturbing it is absolutely forbidden to call non Jewish authority on a yid before seeking permission from a competent rov (following clearly outlined procedures in Halacha ) should you call 311 and cause someone to be fined by the city you are considered a thief and mazik mamon chaveiro ... We need more such articles to remind everyone of their obligations but without threatening 311
(1/28/2015 12:35:40 AM)
For the benefit of many out -of- towners with elderly parents residing in C.H., can someone post phone numbers of services/Companies or responsible kids that will shovel for them.
(1/28/2015 12:44:25 AM)
Your article was good until the last paragraph when you became racist.

"When I pass a home that has a sidewalk full of slushy, dirty snow, or ice still sitting in the same place for over 12 hours, I safely assume that the home belongs to a nisht-yid."

The fact that you wrote it in Yiddish instead of "non-Jew", shows that you are aware of this... And if you really believe that only non-Jews are inconsiderate, why post this public appeal on a Jewish website?
(1/28/2015 12:45:54 AM)
oh poor you...
It's a 1 day thing, no biggie.
(1/28/2015 12:49:25 AM)
dearest neighbour
you are right that we have to shovel
but it is also right to be melamed zchus
you have absolutely no idea why the person wasnt able to shovel
(1/28/2015 1:08:30 AM)
what makes you think that a "nisht-Yid" isn't shoveling their snow???
I'm sure you can find better things to do b'chlal than walking around and looking for reasons to call 311 on people
(1/28/2015 1:10:51 AM)
to my neighbour
being that the snow stopped falling at aprox 1pm Monday afternoon and this was already up on collive on Tuesday night, I doubt that you saw the snow "still sitting there" 12 hours later since 12 hours have not yet gone by from when you sent this to be posted...
either way, if you are so worried, which is nice, maybe knock on the door and ask the maybe elderly lady or man or woman who's husband might not yet be home from work if you can help to shovel their snow...
It is true that people need to take on responsibility, but you never know why they didn't shovel, so in terms of calling 311-maybe spend your time to go up the stairs instead and ask them if they can shovel their "section" and if there's a valid reason why it hasn't been done, maybe help them-this of course if you are really concerned
(1/28/2015 1:16:35 AM)
Moshiach sign
I slipped in front of a house with Moshiach sign on crown
(1/28/2015 1:18:21 AM)
My sentiments exactly!! Thank you for writing!!
So true. For years. Since I'm a young girl to now a Bubby - and it's usually in front of the same places that aren't shoveled. It is the responsibility of the property OWNER - whether your building/house is lived in or not to shovel a decent path in front and alongside the property. This responsibility includes mosdos that don't have anyone walking in or out of them. (It's bad enough these buildings are eyesores all year long - they don't have to become dangerous to pass....)
(1/28/2015 1:25:06 AM)
To the writer. You obviously don't safely assume the house belongs to a nisht-yid since you don't look at the door post to see if there is a mezuzah. Secondly you don't have to assume being that there is a mezuzah.
(1/28/2015 1:34:16 AM)
Sorry you feel this way, lots of times elderly people have to shove the snow. They can't go look for someone to help them. I have often paid for someone to clear the snow in front of their home. Looks like you don't have to shovel the snow or you would speak differently. Try some time to help someone before threatening to call 311. It's not the shovel it's the strength to be able to shove. Where do you find someone for $15.00?
(1/28/2015 4:52:53 AM)
Agree with 4
Not everyone is physically capable of shoveling snow (i.e. elderly, or women at home with children and do not want to risk going out in the cold snow with their babies while they shovel). Although I agree people do need to be more considerate, give them a day at least!
(1/28/2015 8:04:45 AM)
Well said
Well said
(1/28/2015 8:09:22 AM)
ch resident
to all those knocking the writer about threatening to call311. This is not the first snow storm in crown heights. Its about time that someone does something about the not shoveling. Its always the same houses that r not shoveled and i sorry but its downright dangerous especially when all the snow turns to ice. I dont think there is anything wrong with calling 311. They will get a fine and then by the next snow storm they will get another fine if the property is not shoveled. If it keeps happening then eventually they will get so many fines that they will be sick of it and finally take action and shovel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling 311 especially if there is danger to the community at large
(1/28/2015 8:21:15 AM)
Writer is right
I saw many young, strong Black guys out yesterday with shovels, willing & able to clean in front of YOUR home....or store. So it will cost you a few bucks! A lawsuit or guilt will cost you much more. And please - I BEG YOU! Corner homes, clear a decent path so we can cross the street! I had to help my 83 year old mother climb mounds of snow and trudge through ankle deep sludge to cross the street. I could hardly stand up straight myself! The inconsideration & laziness is appalling.
(1/28/2015 8:23:39 AM)
mad winter
Today's Wednesday snow storm began on Monday afternoon it is slippery slope and about time someone calls 311
(1/28/2015 8:29:45 AM)
It's always the same houses
It's always the same houses that don't shovel, or shovel a 2 inch wide "path". I have and would again call 311. It's not mentschlich and it's down right dangerous.
(1/28/2015 9:03:13 AM)
Did it
Neither I nor my husband can shovel the snow. There were dozens of guys/teens ringing my doorbell from the morning, to ask if they can shovel my snow. I said wait till it stops snowing. After it stopped I paid someone to clean the snow. These kids were available all day. So please for the cost of a slice of pizza, fries and a drink, pay to shovel the snow, if you or your children, or grandchildren or great grandchildren can not do it. Ask a neighbor, or pay a neighbor's kid. It is no big deal for these kids
(1/28/2015 9:30:31 AM)
out of town
Can it be some smart people are in FL for vacation?
It happened to just be yeshivacation week..
Let's not be so quick to judge.

But yes the people here should shovel!
(1/28/2015 9:35:55 AM)
home ownership responsibility
There are homeowners who never shovel. If you can't, you or your adult children should contract with someone before the winter begins to shovel after every snowfall.
For those against calling 311, perhaps the CHCC could be called, or shomrim, who would contact the owners.
There is barely any good excuse to endanger or inconvenience any community members.
(1/28/2015 9:37:51 AM)
to #4
ppl away to florida a) apparently have the financial means to pre arrange for shoveling...or ask a neighbor to arrange...
b) if roof caved in - i am sure they have arrangements...

away in florida - very shvach excuse....

and yes the non jews are way better on this issue and not just when snowfall came on shabbos or YT - even on reg days we are very bad at it...

we dont care period!!!!

if I lived there I would report every address to the city.

X-Hatzoloh member - one who knows the damage it can do!!!!!
(1/28/2015 9:46:49 AM)
No excuses. Period.
What is with the excuses?

Since when are elderly people not responsible for ensuring that the snow in front of their property is shoveled? If an elderly person has a flood in their basement, are they not going to call a plumber? If you are an elderly person, then PAY someone to shovel in front of your property!

Going on vacation is not an excuse either. Whether you are going to Florida, Israel, or China, LEAVE MONEY with your neighbor before you leave, so that they can pay someone to shovel your snow.

And yes, if it is more than 24 hours since the storm and someone was tok selfish to shovel their snow, call 311.
(1/28/2015 9:47:20 AM)
CH Bubby
As an elderly person no longer able to shovel snow, I can say that not always can we find someone to shovel for us. Unless someone actually rings your doorbell, we have to keep looking out to watch for anyone with a shovel.
It has been suggested previously that the community council take some responsibility and arrange for people to go round shoveling, we would then be able to just call and request that our property needs shoveling, same with those away from home, would also call the JCC and ask for the shoveling to be done. A fee could be charged which I'm sure no one would object to.
(1/28/2015 10:02:16 AM)
To all of you say it is a "one time thing"
It is not!
Last year I fell on my back, not a few hours after the snow fall but after days.
I remember also trying to walk on the "river" formed on Empire Blvd..
As much as you can be Melamed Zchus, it is still the hose owner to somehow make sure someone shovels.
Thank you to the people who shovel!
(1/28/2015 10:03:20 AM)
Dear Anonymous
Although unshoveled sidewalks after a snowstorm are definitely an inconvenience ( or even secunna ) let's use your article as an opportunity to do something positive. I do want to say that not all of us are vacationing in Florida. There are many older people, or widowed or divorced women who don't have local sons to help out and actually may not have the $20 - $40 that a clean-up after real snow may cost. How about a volunteer corps of able bodied buchurim who may have the day off from yeshiva or shortened hours and healthy men who may work at home / have the day off to come and help their neighbors dig out ? Yes, there's the chance that 1 or 2 people may take advantage of this freebee, but think how many people would be helped ( both homeowners & pedestrians ) There could be a dedicated phoneline set up. Or, you could approach your neighbor and make a plan that you will shovel for them whenever it snows. Loving your neighbor is literal !!! And calling 311 results in a $100 fine for someone who may be struggling already. Don't do it.
(1/28/2015 10:09:36 AM)
To #27
Dear CH Bubby,

Do you have neighbors that have kids? Have you offered them pay for shoveling? Do you have relatives here? Have you asked them?

If you had a leak from your roof, would you wait until a roofer passes by your house, or would you actively seek one out?

Make calls until you find someone to shovel. Better yet, take some numbers down BEFORE each snowstorm or winter so that you wilm have whom to call.

Do you get my point?
(1/28/2015 10:11:34 AM)
This problem speaks to several things, but the bottom line is if someone hasn't put thought into making sure their turf is safe, they are in the wrong. Pay someone in advance and call them when needed. Have a # at hand when needed. Ask a neighbor if they can do this and offer something you CAN do or give in return. Plan ahead. Communicate your difficulty and ask for suggestions/solutions.

If someone calls 311, it should be because there was a dangerous situation about which nothing was done. Someone could seriously get hurt. And I mean SERIOUSLY, nedugedacht. Even if it's a sprained ankle, it's not right that it happened because someone else was not held accountable.

Stop with the excuses, please, and stop sounding entitled to put others in danger because you get away with it!
(1/28/2015 10:44:37 AM)
Sue Me.
I aint shovling "my" snow.

If you got a problem, nobody aksed you to walk on "my" grass.
(1/28/2015 10:48:45 AM)
Stay safe
I agree with #27 -- let the Community Council provide a service for a fee. Someone good-hearted could also pay a bit extra, if they want, or grab a shovel themselves, for those areas that seem to be ownerless, like the stretch on Albany between Union and Carroll St. If you want to stay safe in the slush and black ice, a great product is Yaktrax (or a similar product), which fit over the shoes and grip the ice with steel coils (like springs). Prevents lots of slips and falls. Google and buy online if you want. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy winter.
(1/28/2015 10:59:18 AM)
to #32
you are a sicko. if you are trying to be funny, you are definitely not. I wish somebody [nisht foon unzere, of course] would [chas v'sholom] fall on your property and sue you for every penny you have.
(1/28/2015 11:11:05 AM)
# 30
how bout when someone walks on "your" sidewalk, and trips and gets hurt, and rightfully sues you. try telling the judge that they were walking on "your" sidewalk. you'll be sued alright.
(1/28/2015 11:13:09 AM)
your responsibility
Its not as if someone wants to call 911, but who else are they going to call, it is so dangerious walking around here, I am always scared that I am going to fall
(1/28/2015 11:32:27 AM)
mad winter
Its people like 32 that should be sued and put in slammer for life gross disregard for others
(1/28/2015 12:27:56 PM)
A wonderful segula
My son-in-law shovels the corners on his block and the walks of elderly people. I definitely see the blessings pouring in.
Perhaps the schools should encourage the teenagers that get a snow day to do this chesed for their neighbors.
(1/28/2015 1:37:22 PM)
To the writer its apparent from your last paragraph that it is your life mission and receive joy when you report another yid to the government on any possible occasions. The concern for the unshoveld snow is only a cover-up for your real agenda to masser on another yid. To number 14 what you wrote breaks through his hidden objective and exposes who he really is.
(1/28/2015 2:09:09 PM)
H-E-L-L-O, it is CITY property!
The city DOWNLOADS it's property - the sidewalks, to the homeowners. Why does the homeowner need to clean the sidewalk which is OWNED BY THE CITY??? Maybe the homeowner should also shovel the street in front of his house??? Maybe the homeowner must maintain the city trees too?! And while we are at it, the homeowner should also repair any fire hydrants, cracked sidewalk AND pot holes on street in front of his home! The whole BASIS for obligating the homeowner to maintain CITY PROPERTY is NUTS!!
(1/28/2015 2:14:35 PM)
concerned mother
Im afraid we have become immune to basic human decency. Please do us all a favor and jump inside one of those un-shoveled walkways and stay there. People like you give us normal lubavitchers a bad name. Did you for once read Rabbi Dovvis book on proper neighborly behaivor? He clearly states that telling on your neighbors and reporting them to the authorites is the worst thing to do.Next time shovel it yourself or shut up.

PS Being a moser is such a 'kasket' person thing to do....
(1/28/2015 3:32:42 PM)
Are U Crazy?
H-E-L-L-O, it is CITY property!
The city DOWNLOADS it's property - the side walks, to the home owners.

Why does the home owner need to clean the side walk which is OWNED BY THE CITY???

Maybe the home owner should also shovel the street in front of his house???

Maybe the home owner must maintain the city trees too?!

And while we are at it, the city should also get the home owner to repair any fire hydrants, cracked side walk AND pot holes on street in front of his home!

The whole BASIS for obligating the home owner to maintain CITY PROPERTY is NUTS!!

Problem is, once the city IMPOSES this UNFAIR obligation of maintaining the side walks onto the home owner, we, the simple minded people, now blame the home owner when the CITY'S PROPERTY is not shovelled!

We drink the kool-aid and blindly accept this unfairness, to the point that the writer and many commentators are ready to lynch the home owner!.
(1/28/2015 3:52:02 PM)
Please,shoveling is just pure ahavas yisroel. Just because YOU are s itting in ur home vegging , there are ppl who need to go out.
(1/28/2015 4:04:54 PM)
Kingston Ave
Hamafitz Judaica & Sterling Electronics always have their blocks cleaned in the morning before anyone else. Kudos to them, keep up the good work!
(1/28/2015 4:11:23 PM)
I couldn't agree more
But what about the decency to at least help someone up if they slipped? I slipped and a man walked right past me ignoring!
(1/28/2015 5:27:55 PM)
Is it possible to have ahavas Yisrael while not expressing consideration? I think not.
(1/28/2015 5:58:31 PM)
I moved away
I lived in Crown Heights whilst I went to Mavhon Chana. I was so worried about falling over in the snow, because the pavements are terrible, uneven and so dangerous, a person can catch their heel and fall so badly, that I left. Somthing is wrong, you have to clear those pavements, there's simply nothing else to say. Why do jews think it's above them to shovel? There's so much to learn, and it's not coming from yeshivas, it comes from within, common sense, decent proper behaviour regarding the state of the pavement and snow and ice. Honestly, I came from a non frum background and I have so much to teach about safety and snow.
(1/28/2015 6:11:56 PM)
On Brooklyn btw Montgomery and empire it's very dangour a I know someone who broke there foot from tripping on ice there
(1/28/2015 7:10:19 PM)
good idea
if someone doesnt shovel their property they should be listed on col wall of shame.
(1/28/2015 10:40:58 PM)
bad people like 32 should be punished [loy aleinu] because of their bad meedoys!!!! What makes you think you can be different than everybody else? And besides, people like you are making a chilul lubavitch!!!
(1/29/2015 1:00:28 AM)
Whaaaaat???? Mesira????
You gotta be kidding. Over snow?

Ha ha ha ha... Wait, this is a joke right?
(1/29/2015 3:52:12 AM)
To #51
No! this is a very very serious matter.

like, what if somebody by mistake tripps on the snow, and then falls down, and then hurts himself!?? Worse, they can break a bone, if not all his bones. I personally know someone who this happened to. He once fell down and broke his hip. They even had to call Hatzalah! We are talking here about SAFETY. Always remember, safety first! safety should come before everything else in life.
(1/29/2015 11:02:53 AM)
to number 52 and the writer
You obviously don't understand why calling 311 won't take care of the current snow, that poses a serious danger to the public at large. Since by the time the person receives his notice of a fine the snow will long be gone. And the danger wasn't prevented immediately. For bast results just nock on the door and ask kindly for the person to shovel his snow this mathod will immediately take take of the current danger of slipping from the snow and he will understand in the future to shovel
(1/29/2015 1:53:04 PM)
ever heard of "deterrence"?
people get a ticket once.
they never leave it unshoveled ever again.
they have been effectively "deterred"
so tickets work very well
(I should know, i got one and now i shovel real fast when it snows)
(1/31/2015 11:02:27 PM)
In my humble opinion
To the author: You seem to be someone who cares much about other people. Could I humbly suggest other solutions, other than calling 311? If you care so much, maybe you can offer to help them shovel, or help them find someone who they could pay to shovel. I can't see why calling 311 would be the best "ahavas yisroel" solution. And isn't that, as Chassidim, what we are supposed to be all about?
(2/1/2015 12:58:13 AM)
If everyone pitches in
If everyone pitches in & helps a neighbor or 2 & shovel for them, down the road they help you when you are in need. That's how it works outside of NY :)
(2/2/2015 10:27:00 AM)
STOP being so frum on someone else's cheshbon. I have a friend - a middle aged person who actually fell in front of one of these INCONSIDERATE peoples homes and broke his leg so badly, he needed surgery and couldn't walk for almost a year. is he supposed to be holy and get killed? as long as he doesn't Maaser on an inconsiderate, selfish person???? I don't care how old the home owner is nor if he is away for the winter GET SOMEONE ELSE TO SHOVEL IT CLEAN! but MAKE SURE you don't endanger other people's lives by your selfish negligence!!!! if youre away for t he winter or however long, arrange with a neighbor perhaps to hire someone (at your expense) to make sure your property is not a life threatening hazard to others. In addition, it would be nice if people lent a hand if they see another person struggling to get over snow piles etc.
(2/2/2015 12:58:14 PM)
Number 55, do you know what Ahavas yisroel is??? Allowing such a dangerous situation when neglecting to clean your part of the sidewalk is ABSOLUTELY not ahavas yisroel. and to all of you who are worried about mesirah, unfortunately, from my countless experiences in this neighborhood of ours (including people who lock others in with double parking) This is the only language people understand here. I have had people tell me more times than I can count "nobody does that". If someone doesn't have the decency, consideration and morals to ensure the safety of the public just like their own safety then they deserve the consequence. and don't mix in this false tsidkus.
(2/2/2015 1:14:43 PM)
mad winter
Today's Tuesday February third every single person please please if you own a home put out some salt and shovel the snow its going to freeze in to ice its dangerous like a pit in a street yes you are responsible to remove the snow in front of your home use your head its common sense that person you save from falling on ice can be you or a member of your family or friends
(2/3/2015 6:01:26 AM)
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