Saturday, April 5, 2008

Boro Park

Over shabbos a guy at shul (who I trust) told my mom two stories. One that happened to him and another that happened to someone else at our shul (who I also trust).

For the first story, keep in mind that the guy is extremely "modern". He IS frum but he doesn't wear a kippa except for shabbos, and he wears jeans and whatever else qualifies as "modern." He decided to go to Boro Park. He went into one store, and the salesman- really frum, typical "Boro Park" type- came over to him and asked him :

"are you from the neighborhood?"

The guy from shul replied "No, I'm from Sheepshead Bay"

The salesman said: "I think you should look for kitchens in Lowe's or Home Depot, the kitchens here are more high-end"

Guy from shul: "Do you know whats in my pocket?" And he left, came back a few hours later and spoke to the store manager and was like "How could he say stuff like that, imagine if I were a goy?"


Story 2 (as was told to me by the guy from story 1):

Lady from my shul went to a store in Boro Park with her cousin and another lady to buy furniture. One of them was wearing a short skirt (I guess that means just covered the knee), and two were wearing long skirts. They walked in, asked where the furniture was, and they were told "third floor." They went to the third floor, the place was dark- most of the lights were not on. They shopped around for a while and they realized the lights went on. In came a sales lady with a few customers. One of the customers saw the lady from shul and her cousin standing and waiting, and she said to the sales lady "shouldn't you be helping them, they were here first?" The saleslady replied in yiddish "They're goyim they can wait."

Lady from my shul understands fluent yiddish. She came over and said in yiddish "This furniture costs $12,000, my cousin has $12,000 cash, she was going to buy the furniture without haggling, now, not only will she not buy the furniture, but she'll never buy anything in this store again."


Wow I hate Boro Park, but for a bunch of other reasons, these are just stories that remind me on why.


The Babysitter said...

Reminds me of a story someone in my shul said. She works in Williamsburg in a public school as a therapist. She goes there with a denim skirt. Then she talked in yiddish and the kids were shocked, they thought she wasn't Jewish. She also said, sometimes the kids will tell her "Have a happy Passover" as if she isn't frum and doesn't call it Pesach. Then if they see a man who doesn't wear a streimel they don't realize he's Jewish, cause that's just what they see all the time, they're not used to anything different.

But those two stories you said, it was really unfair of the store owners to treat them that way. But that's why you have to be very careful, and they shouldn't even treat goyim that way either.

Jersey said...

A personal favorite story of mine:

One time, I was walking to mincha on shabbos in Monsey. I was wearing a suit with a very light blue shirt, a tie, and no black hat.

On the way, I passed two chassidim: a man and his young son. The son turns to his father and says, in Yiddish:

"Is this an irreligious Jew?"

I don't speak much Yiddish, but I knew that. The father tried to hush his son, and I just smiled and said "good shabbos" as I walked past.

Hates BP said...

Who doesn't have stories like this? I have a least a half dozen hat happened to me or in my vicinity.

Jessica said...

I have a soft spot in my heart for Boro Park. 1. Because I love payos. 2. Because my sister-in-law's parents live there and they're awesome (not chassidish.... they're one of the few "moderns" that live in BP). But yeah, when stuff like that happens it really makes you question the people who claim to be more religious...

yingerman said...

Hey I'm a 'shtriemal' wearer and i have stories like those too!
If I may, please dont judge us all because of others.
I've said it before not all Italians eat pasta.
Not all African Americans like rap.
Not all ( lehavdil;) )chasidim neglect their manners.
Kids are born plain vanilla its what they are exposed to, that flavors them.

frustrated frummie said...

kind of reminds me of my jewish history prof. who mind you at the end of every week i go over to her and say have a good shabbos! and right before taanis esther and purim i went over and wished her an easy fast and a happy purim. all my friends call me by my hebrew name and when i answer a question i usually accidentally answer with the hebrew text rather than the english. not only that i dress according to tznius law, and i only wear skirts, and when she returned our first test i happened to have gotten one of the highest grades in the class anyway she said someone went to jewish school so i replied yes i did then she proceeded to ask if i only went to jewish high school to which i replied that i went to jewish school for 15 yrs of my life (1 was seminary)

Anonymous said...

I guess everyone has these types of stories. My father used to drive a yeshiva school bus, and always wore his "pocket kippah" and he used to yell at the kids who were jumping in yiddish to sit down and be quiet. The kids used to talk about him how he looks like a goy yet speaks like a yid.

And the story about my friend who came into a chassidish run store in Monsey to buy groceries (wearing jeans and a Kippa sruga) and a chassidish boy points to my friends and says loudly to his father "look tatti, goy!" And the father didnt say anything just continued shopping.

:) fav. anony

Moshe said...

Can't say anything like that ever happened to me, then again, I'm almost never in BP.

Here's one story that happened in front of me. I was working as a tech for an alarm, surveillance, intercom, etc. company and was by my boss's house. His intercom was broken and he had a paper above it telling people to knock loud. His next-door neighbor was sitting shiva. We were both dressed in our work clothes. A guy, suit and hat, who was looking for the correct door comes over, completely ignoring us and not saying a word kinda pushes my boss to the side so he can read what it says on the paper above the bell. I couldn't believe my boss just let the guy do that, then again he's a really nice guy.

David_on_the_Lake said...


I find these so depressing...

Orthoprax said...

Hmm, ignorance and secluded religious devotion are correlated? Whooda thunk it!

Jay said...

No different from any social group. No different from any insular clan. Try Walking into the coffee shop in Breezy Point on a humid August afternoon . You don't need a kipah to draw the stares. All yoy need is dark hair

Orthoprax said...


No doubt bigots abound all over, but at least public society has denounced such behavior. Hard to be a light unto the nations when you have your collective heads stuck in the ground.

"Try Walking into the coffee shop in Breezy Point on a humid August afternoon . You don't need a kipah to draw the stares."

Great. It's always refreshing to see how Jews are almost as good as antisemites. I appreciate it.

Moshe said...

As good? Better!
Go ask a Satmar if he thinks Russian Jews are Jewish. Was working with one, he said that since our parents and grand-parents weren't religious, they probably intermarried and are not Jewish anymore. I told him to bring his Yichus and I'll bring mine and we'll compare. He never did.

Dave said...


How does that differ from marriage in Israel? If you come from the United States, the Israeli Rabbinate will not consider you Jewish for marriage unless you are vouched for by an Orthodox Rabbi they agree with, or you can provide evidence they deign to accept.

(I keep wondering, is Israel trying to drive away all the secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews in America)

Moshe said...

Satmar don't want to marry orthodox Russians even if vouched by a Rabbi. The guy knew I was frum and that I go to shul and keep shabbat.

frumskeptic said...

Moshe: Satmars dont wanna marry anyone. Its rather funny. It wasn't until recently that Bobov and Satmar were permitted to marry each other, and thats only because all the marrying they did w/in the community wasn't good for know...all those Ashkenazie diseases.

Also, my fathers coworker, who is Bobov wouldnt daven at a Young Israel on Rosh Chodesh, and the only reason he davened there on a regular day was because he knew my father wouldnt daven mincha otherwise, so he ok'd it. And, even while davening there he used to call like half the people goyim, for whatever reason , wore jeans, baseball cap, kippa sruga, or w/e.

I stil have no idea why he ok'd going to the Young Israel, is kiruv really that important?

Moshe said...

The way things are going, we'll need a separate moshiach for each sect.
Imagine the horror if moshiach comes in a srugie! ;-)

frumskeptic said...

Moshe: FFB srugie would be funny, but imagine a BT moshiach that wears a kippa sruga!!!! NOW that would show them!! haha ...

anyway, this reminds me of a joke I heard at camp (I went to super frummy camp)

Two guys are arguing over whether Moshe wore a hat or a shtreimal when he went to speak to hashem on har sinai. The chassidish guy says "Ofcourse a shtreimal, you think he wouldn't wear a shtreimal to speak to Hashem?!"

Moshe said...

What we gotta do is to go back to our roots and start wearing turbans.

frumskeptic said...

I'm with you on the turbans.

My moms best friend lives in Bangledesh, and the clothes she wears is soooooo comfy. And its "authentic" ... It can't get anymore Jewish than that. And its totally tznious!!!

But you we wear Juicy thats tznious and claim we're Jewish clothing just cuz its tznious...and chasidim are guilty of it too... though i think they tend to wear LaCoste or RL more than they do Juicy

Moshe said...

whatever you're talking about...
I wear jeans and t-shirts I got from woot, thinkgeek or wcs or one of the webmanga I read.
Shelo osani isha. Two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans, t-shirts and two coats.

outaline said...

Blogger Moshe said...

"The way things are going, we'll need a separate moshiach for each sect. Imagine the horror if moshiach comes in a srugie! ;-)"

This reminds me of a great poem my mother has laminated and hanging on our refrigerator. It's called Moshiach's Hat. I'm going to try to find it and post it on my blog if I can. Thanks Moshe for reminding me about it.

Expatriate Owl said...

About 20 years ago we relocated to Long Island from an "out-of-town" community south & west. My wife & I decided to go into the much-vaunted Boro Park to do some shopping for the upcoming Yom Tovim.

We encountered many, many similar attitudes from almost all of the merchants we tried to patronize (and got some strange looks from many of the people on the street).

So we decided that these merchants must have been doing quite well, and didn't really need our business, so we left BP a bit earlier than we had planned.

We have since returned to BP only for a few simchas of friends; to see my wife's uncle (who is a rav in Bnei Brak) who was in the States and was staying with his friend who lives in BP; and for a bris. We WILL NOT give our business to any merchants there. Period!

Our rav and rebbetzin go to BP all the time (probably at least twice per month, if not more often). But they have learned to not suggest that we patronize any BP merchant.

Anonymous said...

For every story you have, I can give you three that go the other way. Go walk into Maimonides Hospital and watch all the people who volunteer for Bikur Cholim. You're not bringing Mashiach any closer by lumping together an entire group of people based on the actions of a few individuals.

Moshe said...

People who volunteer in bikur cholim is one story. Let's see the other 50. My wife gave birth in Maimonides, it's pretty much the same 5-10 people. Also, don't forget that these are older people who still remember where they came from.