Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Off Shabbos

Yo. We had an off shabbos this weekend, so I ended up going to my aunt who lives in New York. Shabbos was wonderful, food was great, and I really enjoyed myself.
In any event, I decided to head back to yeshiva on saturday night, even though yeshiva didn't start until sunday night. I get to the train station for the L.I.R.R., and lo and behold, there's a fellow jew there. We exchange greetings, and make a little small talk. After a few moments, he asks me what yeshiva I'm in, and I tell him the name of the place. He says he's never heard of it, and asks who are the Roshei Yeshiva. I tell him, and he says that there's no recognition, due to the fact that he, as he puts it, is a YU guy.
That comment intrigued me, because I don't see why being a YU guy should have any effect on his knowledge of other facets of judaism. After all, I'm not a YU guy, per se, and yet I know about YU, and things pertaining to "that"crowd. So we basically come out with the fact that all he knows, and a lot of people in general know, are stereotypes. We discussed this, and why it's that way, and why it's not good. At one point he made a back handed compliment of how ignorance is bliss (self deprecatingly). I told him that in my humble opinion, ignorance is not, in fact, bliss; ignorance is dangerous.
Our discussion moved on to shidduchim; he's apparently smack in the middle of the whole game. We had to switch trains at a certain point, and as we boarded the other train, I noticed two Lubavitcher bochurim sitting in the back of the car. In keeping with my personal philosophy, I waved to them, asked where the were headed, and then turned back to my new friend. Pointing in their direction, I told him that due to stereotypes, those guys have an especially hard time with shidduchim. After observing that I had neatly tied the two subjects together, he agreed with me. But by that time, we had alreadt reached Penn Station, and he went on his way.
So, I turned to my new Chabadsker friends, since we were headed in the same direction, and started shmoozing with them. Turns out that they were from far out places, one from Cali, the other from Oregon, and we walked through the station together, sharing a little bit of chassidishe torah. I asked them to watch my bag for a minute, so I could step outside for a smoke. As I'm smoking outside, first I'm approached by a black guy who asks me for a light. I give him a light, he says "God bless," and goes on his merry way.
Then, I'm approached by an older white gentleman, a real put together looking guy, and this is the following exchange:
White guy: I'd say peace, but I don't know how to say it in hebrw (chuckles softly)
Me: The word is Shalom, man.
Him: Right! Shalom, shalom! ( looks both ways discreetly) Are you orthodox? (I nod the affirmative) Are you Hasidic?
Me: I am of Hasidic descent, yes....
Him:Well, there used to be a lot of you jews where I live. I live in Seagate. You know, in Brooklyn?
Me: Sure, there used to be a school there. A rabbinical seminary.
Him: Yeah! Yeah! I tell you, there was a struggle for a while, between you guys, and the Reform Jews. Real fucks, those reform jews. Trying to change your whole religion? What for? You guys lasted fine for thousands of years without assimilating! I'm catholic, and you guys were the originals!
Me: Well, it's nice to know you feel that way. I guess you can say that reform to us is like Episcopelians to you....
Him: Why's that?
Me: Well, I've heard you call them Christianity Lite: Same religion, half the guilt..
Him: Ha ha! Yeah,you jews are alright! I tell you, I always knew that fuck Arafat was up to no good! Holding parties for nazis....
At this time I had finished my smoke, so I politely extrecated myself from the conversation, and headed back downstairs. My chabad friends and I exchanged blessings, and went our separate ways.
I arrived back in yeshiva close to one in the morning, unpacked, rolled myself a nice doobie, and drifted off to sleep with the songs of Rebbe Shlomo drifting around my head.
Woke up sunday morning kinda late, as there was no one back in yeshiva to get me out of bed. I prayed to the lord, and having nothing else to do, I went into Manhattan for the Israel Day parade. Man, was that fun! I'm not a zionist, although I have tremendous love for the Holy Land, and I don't get political usually, so I decided I was going as a show of general solidarity with my brethren. So many people, of all types from all over! It was beautiful to see such a gathering!
There was a concert in Central Park by 92nd street, and since I was at 53rd, I started to trek over there right away. Along the way, I was stopped numerous times by vendors, solicitors, and all the basic stuff you'd expect from a parade of jews. I got so ripped off, so many times! But who cares? I knew ( or hoped) that my money was going toward worthy causes. Along the way, I picked up some guy my age, and we walked together for a bit. He told me he was studying in YU, and we talked in learning a little bit, which I thought was really cool. We split up after a while, and I continued my journey.
Finally, I arrive at the concert! I made myself comfortable on a grassy spot, under the shade and sat back to relax. At one point, I started wandering around, and I see this huge black guy, wearing an Israeli flag like a cape, with massive dreadlocks. I asked him what's up, and he told me he's a supporter of Israel, that the jews are the chosen ones, etc. A really cool guy. Noticing my Bob Marley tee shirt, we started discussing brother Bob, and then went our ways.
I start heading back to my spot, and I see a guy I know. Now, this guy is straight out of Boro Park. Serious hard core chassidishe family. You can tell he's got his long peyos tied up under his baseball cap. The guy has no clue how to dress this way, so he's wearing short shorts and a polo shirt with the top button done up. I start to greet him, and he glances at me, and starts heading in the opposite direction. I chase him for a bit, and he finally turns around and with a deer stuck in the headlights look, begs me: "please don't tell my parents!" and bolts!
Anyway, the concert ends, and I made my way over to Dougie's for a meal of massive proportions. Then, I hopped on the subway, and went back to yeshiva. I have more exciting bits from the day's events, but not for now. I'll let you digest this stuff in the meantime. Peace.
Originally posted Tuesday, 7 June 2005

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