Living on the F train subway line in Brooklyn, I am regularly exposed to one of the more consistently curious sights that New York City has to offer, one that tends to trump those attention-seeking sights that surround it by virtue of its contrasting virtues: the Hasidim, the black-clad ultra-Orthodox Jews who’d rather go unnoticed in our midst.
From where I’m standing, their disdain for the vanities that drive those other eye-catching strangers on the train who actually want your attention only makes the Hasidim that much more interesting.
All the full-sleeve tattoos, cringe-worthy piercings, and whacky hairdos combined can’t add up to the sight of a single Hasidic man mumbling over the Torah in his broad black fedora and long black coat deep down the infernal New York underground during last week’s brutal heat wave.
From my standpoint, they’re nothing short of fascinating for their steadfast resistance to the mores of the larger culture into which they refuse to be absorbed. Is there anything more radical in our workaholic, super-consumerist day and age than a genuine observance of the Sabbath? I don’t think so. [Read more...]