A most special gift from a grateful reader

As a columnist, I delight in hearing from readers. Written notes, phone calls, emails — whatever; positive or negative responses to what I’ve already written, or suggestions for what I should consider writing about in the future — all are very welcome. But only occasionally does a columnist get a “gift” like this:
A local woman, one of our Jewish seniors, contacted me to thank me: She is moving soon to Pittsburgh, my beloved home town, and her thanks have to do with what she’s learned about it from reading me for the many years during which I’ve so often written about it! This will be a new place for her, but she feels like she knows it already, and is comfortable with it in advance because I’ve
“talked” about it so often!
Can you imagine my surprise that I was able to provide such useful personal information without ever knowing about it? And my delight in the fact that the recipient of that information took the time and effort to thank me for providing it?
Truth told: My reader knew from her own family members who already reside there that Pittsburgh would be a great place for her to live in as the older person she now is. And they made the arrangements for her move into the major institution serving Pittsburgh’s Jewish aged. When she called me, she was doubly happy to report that she’d received a call from Riverview about her new apartment; it is now ready and waiting for her arrival, making her feel welcome well before actual move-in time. (I hope that over all my many years of writing about so many different things, I’ve managed to convey to all my readers that Pittsburgh is indeed this kind of welcoming city!)
Sadly, everyone became aware of Pittsburgh a while back because of that horrible anti-Semitic attack on its Tree of Life Synagogue. And I’m sure that every city would behave in the same caring way under the same terrible circumstances. But Pittsburgh is a place that doesn’t wait for dire circumstances to bring people together; caring is its way of life. My late sister said this after living a lifetime in New York: “Pittsburgh is probably the only place where, when someone falls down on the street, EVERYONE nearby rushes over to help! Nobody just stands back and watches…”
Full disclosure: My reader-friend also goes into her new home in her new home city with connections that will surely ease her way. One of her family members is among the most distinguished of Jewish community leaders there, well-known for his work on important boards and committees, among them the one that advises the weekly Jewish Chronicle — Pittsburgh’s equivalent of our own TJP — and another that helps direct the largest Jewish day school in the city (which just happens to be the place where my own son is employed!). Truth told, my reader is already well-connected in advance to her new home town.
But I had the pleasure of painting some word pictures for her of her new location. It’s called “Riverview” because it sits directly across a major bridge-street from a huge, multi-service complex called “Waterfront.” These two institutions anchor opposite sides of the great Monongahela, one of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. Her new apartment will be in one of the many buildings that form the so aptly-named complex that has been serving the ever-growing needs of the city’s oldest Jews for generations, and continues its own growth in order to serve them all.
A simple sign just inside the main entrance welcomes everyone to Riverview with this apt quote from Psalm 71: “O Lord, cast me not off in the time of old age; When my strength fails, forsake me not…” So to my reader friend: Thank you for thanking me. I send you off with confidence that a great new life awaits you in the city that’s forever the home of my own heart!

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