Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mutually Assured Privacy

They say the greatest luxury in the world is time. But another one is personal space. The time and ability to think and reflect. Without it, you spend your entire day focusing on minutiae rather than the big picture, a waste.

Reflection means that you think to yourself about stuff. And you don't necessarily share everything you think. But if you do, it is important that others respect your right to privacy.

This weekend we went to a Purim party in Baltimore, at my friend Penina's house. This is Penina's beautiful family, which runs the Jewish Collegiate Network locally and has dedicated their entire lives to religious outreach.

It is OK to share the photo because they've put it online as part of the outreach effort.

They also put a Purim photo and assorted videos online, publicly as well. It's all about drawing people into their home to learn about how to practice observant Judaism.

After we left I wondered to myself, how can they live under such a microscope? They have photos and video of the family out there for the public to view. They write about the kids. They fling open the doors of their home to complete strangers - everyone is invited to join them for a Sabbath. But don't they deserve some privacy too?

Yet Penina and her husband Efy have dedicated their lives to that kind of openness. They know it's strange. But they also know there is no other way to draw others in besides offering the atmosphere of an observant Jewish home. They've sacrificed something.

I respect their commitment and total life focus. But for me it points up even more the importance of giving others the space to be who they are, outside the public view. It is not "hypocritical" to have a public and a private presence. It is called being human.

* All opinions my own.