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Letter: House Numbers

I am writing to open a discussion about the article of last week’s Great Neck Record entitled, ‘My Address is Unlucky.’ The article featured a photograph, front page and center, of a lovely home for sale in Great Neck.  It seemed sensational and appeared to trivialize the issue, and stigmatize this home unfairly.  

 The real issues are not well explained in the article. In the Chinese language, the number four is pronounced as a word that sounds like the word “death.” Many new homebuyers in Great Neck are Chinese, and this often is a serious concern. It is customary in China to avoid the number four in buildings and on airline flights, as it is considered inauspicious. In terms of real estate, this may affect the value of at least 10 percent of the homes in our town (those most affected end with #4).

Many people in this town complain to me that Great Neck is changing and it is “not the way it used to be.” We are all immigrants from somewhere (not a huge Native American population in Great Neck) and this is one of the things I enjoy the best about Great Neck. The ability to change and adapt are what keeps all living things alive!

Although I was not present for these discussions and vote, I feel that it is possible that the village might not have taken this issue as seriously as it might have. I am sure it is difficult for a non-Jew to understand why a string has to be tied around a town in order to carry a baby on Saturday. It seems strange to many non-Catholics to see the hoopla about the color of the smoke coming out of a chimney at the Vatican. And I am sure it seems silly to many people that a buyer would be uncomfortable buying a house because it has an address ending with the number #4. Our traditions and superstitions are part of rich cultural heritages that seems “normal” to the insider, but seems bizarre and meaningless to one who did not grow up with these values.  

In summary, I think a more thorough, thoughtful discussion of this issue that for many Chinese people the number 4 makes a home less desirable should be undertaken and reconsideration made to accommodate requests to change an address when feasible.

Terri Levin, real estate salesperson, Edna Mashaal Realty