Rabbi Mendel Liberow
Rabbi Mendel Liberow
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We recently hosted a pop-up Jewish New York Deli experience. There were knishes, half-sour pickles, Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, matza ball soup, and of course, hundreds of pastrami sandwiches on rye bread. 

As I watched customers come and go, picking up their deli to enjoy at home or enjoying a meal at the pop-up location, I noticed something. To be more precise, I didn’t notice something.

I didn’t notice a preponderance of the people you’d stereotypically expect to enjoy cream soda and corned beef sandwiches—people named Sadie or Irving or Seymour. What I did notice was a cross-section of South County residents, eager and excited to try something that may have been new to them, and open to learning about the lives and culture of their Jewish neighbors.

In the pop-up deli that day I recognized one of the identifying features of South County, one which has allowed this Brooklyn-born rabbi to feel at home some 3,000 miles away from where I grew up. 

There are no outsiders in the South County community.

Of course, we aren’t all the same—far from it! There are individuals of many nationalities, races and creeds represented in our town. But they all feel at home here; truly at home. Our neighbors may not look the same but they are genuinely interested in learning about our lives and lifestyle. Walking the streets in my rabbinical garb, I have met nothing but genuine friendliness and respect. And that’s not nearly as common across the world in 2022 as it should be.

It is in this atmosphere of respectful friendship that I am honored to be embarking on what will be a monthly column for the Gilroy Dispatch. I’ll share a bit about Jewish life in South County and stories and insights I find inspiring. I’m hoping to be able to contribute to the diverse array of voices that you read each week in the Gilroy Dispatch, and I thank you for being a reader.

And I’d like to invite you to join me in this journey. Please be in touch with any questions you may have as well as feedback, comments and topic suggestions for future columns. I can be reached at [email protected]. Your input will contribute to the tapestry of respectful interactions that makes South County such a wonderful place to live.

Rabbi Mendel Liberow is the director of Chabad South County Jewish Center in Morgan Hill, which offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For information, visit JewishMH.com.

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