What Are You Going To Do, If You Don’t Know What To Do?

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Dear Jido,

New neighbors, who have yet to move into their new home, have been to the
house twice, feeling free to invite themselves into our backyard where our children and their friends are playing.

While I am not opposed to allowing their children in our yard, we do enjoy our family time with either just my family and/or our immediate family or close friends. As we are on a corner lot, our home is a gathering point for children, but we feel we are being taken advantage of.

I was offended when I came out of my home after dinner to find several children who I do not know in my driveway. I feel this has to get under control before it becomes a habit.

While I do not want to offend anyone, we are obviously closer to some of our neighbors than others. How do you suggest I handle this?

Not So Neighborly

Dear Neighbor,

To quote the most famous expression on the topic:

“Good fences make good neighbors” – Robert Frost, 1914.

Certainly, there are many Jewish sources that say the same thing. I hate to get rabbinic (there are other columns in this magazine that do that), but Jewish law is quiteclear about the prohibition of intruding on your neighbor’s space. If he makes you uncomfortable in your own backyard, even if it’s after a long time of “dealing” with it, you have the right to put up a fence dividing your two properties, and HE even has to pay for half of it.

But before it gets to that point, you should let him know exactly what you indicate above. There is nothing wrong with wanting to pick your friends. The fact that he happens to live next door to you does not confer upon him any rights or privileges of association with you and your family. He may have had that type of relationship with his previous neighbors and assumed there was nothing wrong with being what some people call “fast friends.”

You are ENTITLED to your privacy. Speak with him tactfully. If that doesn’t help, speak with one of his family members or his rabbi (you might even find one or two of them sitting in your backyard one day).

If all else fails, remember, good fences make good neighbors.