Friday, August 9, 2013


 For those of my readers who don't already know this, we live in the largest concentration of Hasidim outside of Williamsburg. It's been that way for quite sometime. Because having kids is an intregal part of that culture, this population will only grow. For many non-Hasidim in this county, this is a source of constant irritation. As far as I'm concerned the only ones that have an innate right to reside here are the Leni Lanape Indians. Try finding one of those. So as the newly bearded hipsters drive up the real estate values in Brooklyn, and follow the old bearded ultra-orthodox up the Thruway in search of that dream bungalow for their "practice" in the Catskills, I ponder which is worse?
    Aside from their inability to drive politely and an unexplainable desire to fence off every property with chain link fence, I have no problem with my Hassidic brothers and sisters. In fact they are arguably the only thing standing in the way of this little piece of paradise becoming the next Hudson, Woodstock or Hamptons....God help us. Hasidim may produce kids, but the gentrifying hoards of yoga practicing, expresso swilling, skinny jean wearing, over-educated and under-employed trust fund glampers, with fresh facial hair, seem to be an inexhaustible virus of destruction. How long can we keep them and Starbucks out of the county? This is what we should fear- fracking, casinos and  hipsters.

   Yesterday I attached the signage to the lion cage. In Hebrew it states simply- LION OF JUDAH. I no sooner had the sign up than an elderly, (about my age) grey bearded, Hassidic gentleman in a long black coat pulled up. "How do I get to rt. 42?" he asked. I gave him directions, as he took in all the billboards and the lion cage. "What's with the Jewish?" he asked. I gave him my usual response. "I don't understand the question." Then he got more specific, as I explained my role as artist in the community. "Do Jewish people come here?" I answered that yes, they did. "To pray?" He had me there. How the hell do you know if people (Jewish or otherwise) are actually praying? They may say they are praying, when they are actually catching a quick snooze. They don't teach that in seminary. "I think some pray." I admitted. He seemed pleased. Then i asked a question. "How's my Jewish?" He smiled and gave me the thumbs up. "Lion of Judah." he said with a grin. We shook hands and he drove off. THAT'S what's with the Jewish. Pray for us.        


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