Shopping After Shabbos: The Story of an International Friendship

Hinda Moskovitz and Ros Glaser (Lev Bar-Av/National Photo)

It can be hard to ask for help, but one never knows what gifts might come from a moment of vulnerability.

In the case of Sydney, Australia’s Ros Glaser and Pikesville’s Hinda Moskovitz, the need for a ride home in the summer of 2018 led to the gift of a very long-distance, though very close, friendship.

Glaser resides in Sydney, but is a native of South Africa. Because of her daughter Rebecca Brown — and more specifically Rebecca’s husband Gavi Brown pursuing his PhD at Johns Hopkins University — Glaser now finds herself mingling with a Jewish community on a third continent.

Last year, while visiting Brown in Baltimore, Glaser spent an afternoon shopping at Marshall’s in Pikesville. “I love Marshall’s. Outstanding place, very good prices,” Glaser said, unable to contain her excitement about the outlet.

Wishing not to disturb Brown, who was pregnant with her first child, Glaser was without a ride back to Brown’s home. Although she’s not a resident of Charm City, Glaser shares a common gripe with many Baltimoreans.

“Baltimore’s a great place, but unfortunately the public transport is extremely poor,” she said. “You have to get around by Uber, especially in the suburbs.”

To solve her problem, Glaser looked no further than the Marshall’s parking lot. “One has to be cautious these days,” Glaser said, but after looking into the distance and noticing a big family van with children around it, she knew she was in good company.

“I saw this beautiful looking girl and I thought, ‘I’m sure she’s Jewish,’ and the Baltimore Jewish community is fabulous and extremely well connected and very kind,” Glaser said.

The two hit it off, and in no time discovered that the synagogue that Moskovitz belongs to, Congregation Shomrei Emunah, is the same synagogue where Glaser’s daughter was married. In Moskovitz’s version of the encounter, she reciprocates Glaser’s language of adoration.

“A really sweet woman came up to me, she’s originally from South Africa and that’s my favorite accent,” Moskovitz said laughing. “Who would think that from offering someone a ride would come this beautiful friendship?”

However, the two almost missed their chance to remain chums. When Glaser returned to Brown’s home, she told her daughter that she had just met a lovely girl at Marshall’s. Her name was Hinda.

“What’s her last name?” asked Brown. Glaser realized she never got it, nor exchanged contact information with Moskovitz. That night began Shabbos, and the following evening Glaser and Brown went to Target.

“Saturday night, everybody goes to Target after Shabbos,” Glaser said. “The entire Jewish community is shopping at Target,” and that included Moskovitz.

“I heard my mother shrieking from the aisles. ‘Hinda! It’s Hinda!” Brown said in an email. “The one and only Hinda was at Target at the exact same time my mom and I were. It was like a scene from a movie.”

Moskovitz has since maintained her friendship with not only Glaser, but also Brown, who she calls “Becc.”

“It’s really special because you teach your children to be kind and to help somebody else,” Glaser said. “And Hinda did this, and it portrays exactly the type of person she is. Things are meant to be. We’re very lucky.”

Despite the great distance, Glaser and Moskovitz see each other more often than many see their own extended families. Now that Brown and her husband have welcomed their daughter Adi to the world, Glaser comes to Baltimore every three months. She has seen Moskovitz each time since they’ve met, bringing Moskovitz’s children small gifts from Australia. Moskovitz said her children often ask when Glaser will be back to visit.

When asked if she would like to make the trip to Australia, Moskovitz said, “One day I would love to. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but knowing how often Ros comes here I get a taste of Australia every few months.”

Without hesitation, Glaser, clearly eager to return the mitzvah, said, “And my Shabbos table is always open to her.”

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