Monday, June 22, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My husband works for a company whose employees are about 99% frum, in all varying degrees, but mostly to the right. One of these employees sold her home in Boro Park and is moving to Flatbush, because it has to be more normal than Boro Park is right now. Why? Her husband was coming out of the house and a little boy, about knee high, accosted him. The tyke said, "I know that you are a goy." The husband was a bit taken aback but asked "How?" The tyke answered: "Because you aren't wearing a streimel."

This is the same Boro Park in which the Young Israel on 50th off 13th was the "big" shul? This is the same Boro Park in which the Shulamis School for Girls was located? Ain't progress great?!


Lion of Zion said...

i guess everything is relative, but flatbush really isn't that much better. i could write a parallel to your last paragraph:

"This is the same Flatbush in which the Young Israel on Ave. I off Coney Island Ave. was the "big" shul? This is the same Flatbush in which the Shulamis School for Girls was located? Ain't progress great?!"

(yes, i know shulamith is still around, but it's not clear for how long and, in any case, it's not the MO school it used to be)

ProfK said...

Yup Lion, glad you caught the irony. But re Flatbush you can go one further: BTA (YU's high school for boys) was in the building before Shulamis came in there. YU and Flatbush, now there's two words not usually put together in the same sentence.

SuMMy said...

Doesn't this post contain the source to all 52 problems in klal.

Fix this one issue and you've gone a long way to solving all 52 problems.

SuMMy said...

I had a similar story in Flatbush so I moved out. I'm trying to get Lion to join me.

JS said...

The real issue for me is why are RW kids so rude? This is just my personal experience, but I have never seen a MO kid go up to a chassid and say "you sure are dressed weird." But I have personally experienced many instanced in which RW children question what I or my wife are (or at not) wearing or doing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Boro Park used to be a Jewish neighborhood, now it's a Charedi neighborhood. I grew up in Boro Park and it was a wonderful mix of all types, mostly Jews (of all types), some Italians, some Irish, etc. I attended Etz Chaim in the heart of Boro Park for elementary school.

ProfK - But re Flatbush you can go one further: BTA (YU's high school for boys) was in the building before Shulamis came in there. YU and Flatbush, now there's two words not usually put together in the same sentence.

I actually attended BTA (in that building) for one year before transferring to MTA and living in the dorm during the week to avoid the commute. By then BTA was pretty bad (way too many nebach cases, too few frum students, too few caring staff, and basically in general decline), eventually it closed down a few years later.


Orthonomics said...

And to think that I am still trying to help my kids get up the courage to ask for help finding a book in the library.

Bklynite said...

The gemara says in tractate Sukkah that certain types of pronouncements that a child utters in the market come from his parents. The kid didn't concoct that on his own at that age, likely he heard such at home. So what is more troubling than the youngster saying such a thing, is that adults, presumably his brilliant parents, are spouting forth such profundity. And that from a sect that claims to stress ahavas Yisrael for all???

That area is very Hassidic dominated now. It is mostly a question of which sect they belong to - Bobov, Belz, Satmar, Vizhnitz, etc., whether they carry on Shabbos or not, what kind of dress is worn. The modern ones wear regular pants with streimels, perhaps have trimmed beards, while others have knickers and white socks in some cases. There still is a substantial amount of people there that don't wear the full Hassidic costume, but they are declining numerically there, a lot less than they used to be. To a large degree, it has become a neighborhood of sects. A 'modern' version of W'burg. Actually I understand that W'burg Hassidics look upon BP as 'modern', since there are things like secular, and non-Hassidic newspapers there, and even women who drive cars! Raging modernity!

ProfK said...

One of the Williamsburg cousins announced, rather grumpily, that her daughter was moving out of town. Where? Boro Park. Definitely a different world then the one I inhabit.

Anonymous said...

Here is an out-of-town variation on the story, but this one is sort of the reverse. Once, when I was a kid, my family was going out to eat, & my brother (then about 4) noticed a man in a kipah getting off a motorcycle. He'd never seen a frum man with a motorcycle, but he knew a man in a kipah must be Jewish, so to resolve this paradox he asked, "Are you a Jewish man on a motorcycle?" The man just laughed and said yes.

Bas~Melech said...

OK, sorry to be the party pooper here but I really don't think it's fair to judge by what a "knee high" kid says. They come up with all sorts of things out of context. There are very polite Jewish and non-jewish children who say things that utterly mortify their parents just because small children are too naive to understand etiquette.

Just for example, my now very wonderfully sociable niece, who comes from a fine, open-minded family that actually includes many different stripes of Judaism, knew from a very young age that Jewish people aren't supposed to drive on Shabbos. So, when a car drove through their very quiet neighborhood one Saturday, she said "Oh, they aren't Jewish!" No one told her that. Many people could be offended had she said that to their face. I assume the kid in this situation used some similar line of reasoning.

How often does it happen that well-bred children, after encountering pregnancy for the first time, ask every overweight woman they see if they're having a baby. Yes, it's embarrassing, but everyone understands that the kid is still learning and if their parent heard the exchange, they will soon be wiser.

Why does a little encounter like this get 10 comments all with the negative point of view? Why must we take some kid's [possibly innocent] mistake as an excuse to overgeneralize and bash a whole community?

I worked in Boro Park for a number of years, and while I never quite fit in (by choice -- I just didn't feel the need to adapt the prevalent lifestyle there) I never felt rejected in any way. I found both the adults and children to be genuinely interested in having a friendly relationship. Maybe it was because they didn't need to feel like I was judging every word they said.

ProfK said...

You are right that judging someone on the basis of only one thing that a small child said would be wrong. However, I know the woman who is moving and I know that the story she told is only illustrative of a far greater problem. No one sells their house and moves on the basis of only one comment.

There is also this. While individuals may feel or act one way, put them together in a large group and they may act quite another way. We have family in Boro Park who are perfectly "normal" (or pretty close to it) when taken one at a time. But as a group they are a different thing.

And then there is this. When you are only a visitor to a place, and the native residents know that, it's lots easier to be nice to you, knowing that it is short term, than if you suddenly decided to move to that place. Lots of other "tourist attractions" besides Boro Park who welcome the money that strangers spend in their community, and who may even welcome the skills or products that you bring into their community, as long as it's temporary and for the short term.

Miami Al said...

Before we were observant (we might have had a Kosher Kitchen at that point), one of the neighborhood kids heard that I had a television on Shabbat, probably watching a football game. I heard one of the kids ask the other why my TV was on, the other one answered, "maybe they're not Jewish."

I wasn't insulted, but others might have been. That said, a young child accosting someone that they don't know and calling them a "goy" is pretty horrid for manners... and it's picked up in the home. Nobody should be referring to people with slurs around children unless you want people to pick them up... and while "goy" is the Hebrew word for gentile, in English it's clearly derogatory, and should be avoided around children.