Wednesday, December 31, 2008


A generous person gives bread; a truly generous person sells instead.

Williamsburg Chassidim are generous. Williamsburg is home to a myriad of charity institutions, and the posters on its streets testify on the many charitable fundraisers held within its borders.

No beggar will be left to sleep on the street in Williamsburg. A good-hearted fellow will surely offer an invite for bed and breakfast. No place to stay for Shabbos? A couple phone calls will locate an accommodation—free of charge. It will cost you, though—discomfiture.

I don’t like to stay as a guest with strangers. I like to pay for my lodging and dining. I want to be my own master, not a slave to my host. I want to conduct myself the way I see fit, not do as the Romans do.

But Williamsburg has no hotels, at least not one listed in the yellow pages. I learned that the hard way. When my Willie relative told me:

An event I make
Would you partake?
I knew right there
I should prepare
To begin
Search for an inn

There is no hotel
No family I can tell
Nor a contact in my cell
Where should I dwell?

Lodge is a headache
I will stay awake
Lean on the stairs
Slouch on two chairs
Feet raised on a bin
Palms under my chin

I guess land is so scarce in Chassidic sections of Brooklyn that investors have to choose the most profitable project to develop. Will a hotel make any profits? More so than putting up twenty-five apartments? Nah. Half the guests will ask for a discount on the basis of emissaries of exempt organization, or pay with third-party checks payable to cash, of course. Then they will have to make special pricing for kollel yungerleit. No hotels then.

Hence, Let’s go to a motel maybe, no we’ll have to pay.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pork in KJ

Read this, and sing along

Dip dip, plunge plunge
Swallow grants like a sponge
Make a mikvah
Say it’s just a spa
Sure, right, yeah

Dip dip, dunk dunk
Swallow pork a chunk
Make of them a fool
Say it’s just pool
Sure, right, cool

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Legalizing Christmas

Flashing back to years ago
In one-horse town of KJ
The calendar of Monroe
Wasn’t spelled double A
Learned to rung around a ring
Skilled on how to write
What fun it is to laugh at the thing
They still can’t get it right

Christmas as you know
This is coming on Thursday
In the Town of Monroe
Is celebrated as a legal holiday
It has such a hollow ring
We all wonder might
What is this legal thing?
We are above the law, alright

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Bride

I’m dreaming of a white bride
When we used each other to know
Where your headband pearls glisten
And I enviously listen
To hear your giggles in grounds below

I’m dreaming of a white bride
Just like the ones I used to know
Where your dress would glisten
And obediently listen
To hear me pronounce my vow

I’m dreaming of a white bride
As the our worlds apart would grow
Where your leather boots glisten
And I yearningly listen
To hear leaves rustle as you go

I’m dreaming of a white bride
The night it was your show
Where your ring would glisten
And you quietly listen
To hear the pledge of your beau

I’m dreaming of a night ride
As we sneaked out tiptoe
Our eyes would glisten
As we attentively listen
To hear our voices low

I’m dreaming of a white bride
Our eyes all aglow
Where the glasses glisten
And we cheerfully listen
To hear the toasts we throw

I’m dreaming of a bright outside
Like the ones I would never know
Where my morals would glisten
And to my heartbeat I listen
Pure as the driven snow

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fighting Satan

Destined for failure makes his case why the Hassidic community, (henceforth, we, us, our), is, well, destined for failure. He proves black on white, or rather white on black, (I highlight the text, so I get blue on white; can’t read otherwise), why seclusion will become impossible in the years to come and that the walls of our self-made ghettos will fall as the Berlin wall did.

I agree with his main point, but disagree with some supporting arguments.

I believe the Chassidic community leaders should embrace technology and open-mindedness instead of evading it. There is a way to preach faith in face of all the secularity, and a way to stay true to tradition in spite of all the communication possibilities. The Amish allow their young a period of rumspringa, yet a very great percentage remains demut. How entrenched in faith are the Evangelicals? Don’t they watch national TV? Don’t they go to Blockbuster? To the library? Browse the internet? All, of course, with parental restrictions. You don’t have to go further than Chabad. They sent young couples over to places as remote as possible from Jewish life, and yet they remain as steadfast to tradition as a Jewish mother could only wish.

R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch taught a righteous person doesn’t hide out form the world, but mingles among the common folks and makes a positive influence in the world and lets his torah have an impact. I believe we would had been better off if we were introduced to the outside world early in our lives and offered the religious interpretation of it. Instead of banning the media, avoiding all outside literature, and segregating between genders, our rabbis should have ripened us to the discovery of the forbidden fruit later in our lives; that would soften the impact of collision. Our teachers and parents should have taught us that watching movies featuring erotica and violence is bad, that that the pieces in National Geographic about the age of the universe are wrong, and that God despises prenuptial affairs.

However, I do believe that, if we choose to, we can hide from the outside world even in the years to come; it’s difficult, but nevertheless possible. The biggest proof is how we stayed secluded all thsoe years. Centuries have passed since the first voices were heard that things are different nowadays, that we can longer stick to the practices of the old ages, and that Judaism will have to adapt. Yet we managed to stay aloof and aloft for all those years, despite what the cynics said.

I well understand that things are different in this age, that there was never a threat to fundamentalism as ominous as the internet, and that internet is widely in use and puts frum souls within a button-click of falling deep abyss. However, they said the same thing back when egalitarian ideals swept across Europe, they said the same thing back when Neologs threatened to swallow Hungarian Judaism, they said the same thing back when radio or TV became household commodities, and they said the same back when we were uprooted from the shtetl and transplanted into metropolitan. Fundamental leaders always took extreme measures to preserve and protect Torah-true Judaism, and will not shun from repeating history again.

Rabbis are notoriously known for procrastination and ineffectiveness in acting on issues or solving community trouble in timely fashion. Coupled with all the petty bickering and power jockeying and you got a completely crippled theocracy. Wait until internet victimhood becomes a plague beyond a point where it can be conveniently swept under the rug or dealt with posters on shul walls, and some dramatic measures will be taken. I can’t brainstorm any ideas what they might do, but then if I could, I would be sitting at that convention.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Depression I


How was WWI called before WWII broke?
The Great War.
Will The Great Depression be replaced by Depression I ?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hasidic Boy

Parody of American Boy by Estelle

Take me to the shtible; I’d like to pray.
Take me to the tish; I’d love to sway.
I really want to, dumb shtick and no clue.
You’ll be my Hasidic Boy.

Can we get away this Shabbos.
Where shall we stay.
Let’s go to a motel maybe, no we’ll have to pay.
Let’s not go beyond the subway.
Stay in the hood.
I never been to other Brooklyn and don’t like to flee for good.
Dress in all your fancy clothes.
Reshvolke looking kodesh to death I’m lovin’ your shtreimel pose.
Gawkin’ that gawk.
Balkin' that sick balk.
I’m likin’ this Hasidic Boy. Hasidic Boy.

Take me to the Rebbe; I’d like to see him play.
Take me to the mikvah; I’d love to see them gay.
I really want to come stick with da Jew.
You’ll be my Hasidic Boy. Hasidic Boy.

La da da, da da, de da
La da da, da da, de da
Hasidic Boy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Inspired by Chaverim, the Hasidic neighborhood non-emergency responders, I came up with this one; fairly charming. I got the H-handshake from this royalty-free site.

Attention Chaverim, community activists, Jewish or gentile: HANDS is a pretty cool acronym, so grab it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Wedding at the Factory

This post I wrote in an email to On-Her-Own in response to her request.

It took me about two hours to translate this essay. Insane! I know. Right at the middle I almost freaked out and was badly tempted to throw everything in the recycle bin, but I pulled it to the finish line anyway. When you write the original you draw satisfaction from watching something of value piling up, but when you translate, things only lose value. So many juicy adages, puns, and expressions must be overlooked, rephrased, or worse yet, explained. Yuck! So when you encounter some awkward sentences, imagine yours truly biting my nails while scrambling for that perfect word. Nu? What's it called?

Also, the contents of this post were intended for the ultra Chassidic folks, native Yiddish speakers. Therefore, you might find some concepts weird or you might not get it at all. Too bad.

We all have memories of a Shabbos at the Rabbi's, a Seder at Grandpa's, or Thursday night in Yeshiva. But a wedding at the factory? Who arranges a wedding at a factory? I mean, it is not equipped with a divider where husband can linger a while before dispatching a child to call for his wife.

On-Her-Own was a new face to a gentile wedding at church. When she wasn't occupied triumphing how the "and he will govern you" is buried deep right where "and he shall cling to his wife"* is at play, her mind swarmed with comparisons and contrasts between a wedding in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel and a wedding in accordance with the laws of Jesus and Baptists. The core of the beauty ascribed to these gentile customs was that the program was set by the groom and bride themselves and not by some antiquated traditions. For example, our familiar groom and bride emphasize music, and therefore singing was a considerable part of the ceremony. Meaning, groom and bride sang love songs and lust poetry to each other.

On-Her-Own was also very impressed that the bride too recited a pledge of allegiance the likes of Harei Att(o), whereas Judaism grants this privilege exclusively to the groom. Little does she know that Harei Att is not at all a declaration of love, nor is it a promise to stay loyal, for he is in fact permitted to marry more wives. So what else is it that he whispers her in the ears as he fits the ring on her finger? Jewess, now I seize you. From this day on you are banned to whomever else as is pork. Consecrated!

Nevertheless, what is the essential difference between them and us? Guests are few and truly invited, and as the maxim goes: the smaller the crowd, the bigger the joy. They rejoice from the bottom of their hearts. How not? Mr. or Ms. our friend found true happiness! They eat, they drink, they laugh, they hang out, they hum along, they tap to the beat, and up they are borne by a dance. Clap a hand, raise a foot, pairs and pairs, embrace yourselves, spin yourselves, rejoice yourselves. Hooray! Let there be excitement!

In our own frum circles, however, nothing is spontaneous, but all is predetermined forty days prior to the kneading of the body. Precisely as it is at engagement where one finds love according to type, same holds true at the wedding where joy comes only when established. Seamed stockings for her? White socks for him? What headgear will she wear? And he, how many years in kollel? At this point all weep as is prescribed in the holy books, and now is photo time. Where is Aunt Suruko? Sarah! Suruko! They're snapping pictures! They walk in, they walk out, a cigarette, a cellular conversation, the Shtreimel box, mazel tov! Nu? How is progress? Are they taking it to the chupah yet? Who was honored with the final benediction? Why not Rabbi Chaim Menachem? He attends his lecture every evening, doesn't he? Who is that singer? Oh! Mazel tov mechutan! May Hashem bless you with…much money! Amen! Can you pass on the bottle please? What is the groom's name?

What is the groom's name? Hello?

So, any wonder the guests don't feel like dancing? Why should they? Usually it is the peers of the groom that create excitement, and if not, people do a mitzvah and stroll around the hall. After all, Avrom Fried sings that they (one who cheers up a groom or bride) merit five sounds.

The entire wedding is monotonous, grey, and lackluster. Dancing is meaningless. What's the point in locking hand to hand and amble about aimlessly? Groom to bride are withdrawn and insecure. Guests are impatient, and the mechutonim penniless but glad. They hope the marriage will last. Why shouldn't it? The homes match after all.

Marriage in itself is merely another stop on the assembly line belt; a bachelor or a maiden is like an unpainted car. What should her occupation be? Teach kindergarten while all her classmates push strollers? And he, how long more will he go to shul without a talis? He can't make a mockery of himself. He is too old to study (in yeshiva), but he can't take a job lest his shidduch value will depreciate. So, you marry them, and happy should be who? Regardless how long a night the wedding is, dear groom and bride, it draws to an end at last, and afterwards comes a day, and afterwards another day. If you looked around, it makes sense to ask motzo or motzei (pun for good match or bad match), it's risky nevertheless. However, if you only dated once or twice, how could it be any different? It's a pure gamble!

Hence, a wedding at the factory

* Thank you Shtreimel