Tag Archives: chassidim

Children are important!!

I just got off the phone with my girlfriend. She was livid.

She had gone to the Chassidic section of town to pick up some danishes at Cheskie’s, an awesome bakery that piles on the pounds before you even enter the store. There was a bunch of women inside yammering away in Yiddish as if they had no cares in the world. She bought what she needed and left.

As she left the store she noticed a baby carriage parked outside with a 4 month old baby sleeping peacefully in it. She checked her watch. She got into her car, made a quick phone call or two, and yes, the baby was still there unattended while its mother was nowhere in sight. 10 minutes go by until the mother (we presume she was the mother) comes out of Cheskie’s and pushes the stroller away from the store. My friend didn’t want to leave until she saw the baby was safe, but she also didn’t want to go in to the store and confront the mother.

You leave a baby alone in a stroller outside a store for ten minutes??!! I would never do it not even for a minute, a second! When my kids were little I wouldn’t even leave them in the car while I ran in to pick up a carton of milk. How can someone just leave their baby there and trust no one will kidnap him / her, or do something equally dastardly? How can she not care about the baby’s safety?

Cheskie’s does not have room for strollers inside, that’s for sure, but she could have parked the stroller and left it outside, and carried the baby inside with her. She left the baby outside, in the cold, and didn’t come out to even check on it once. What kind of mentality is this? “God will watch my child while I am in the store gossiping with the other ladies” – well, trust in God is all well and good, but it’s your job, woman, to look after the child that HE blessed you with. How can you have such a cavalier attitude to this poor sweet innocent babe?? If something had happened to your child you would have been distraught.

My friend is a sweetheart. She doesn’t like to make waves and was worried only about the baby. Me, I am sure I would have waited till the mother came out and given her a huge chunk of my mind. Not that it would have got me anywhere. Maybe it would have made me feel better. What if the police would have been called? Is that child neglect or child endangerment?

Would YOU ever leave your infant or young child outside a store for ten minutes? Ever?

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Driving is not tznius?

I spend a lot of time in Monsey. In the area where we live we have a large religious mix of people – but we are not technically in Monsey. To get to many places in the area we have to drive thru what I like to call Monsey Ir HaKodesh (the holy city of Monsey) where there is a high demographic of Chassidic Jews. Driving down Route 306 just before Blauvelt you generally see a couple of Chassidim trying to bum rides into town. As soon as they see a woman driving they retract their hands. Which is fine, because I wouldn’t want to give a ride to someone who wouldn’t want to ride with me as I am a woman and I am driving. Oh the shame!!

Why is it that in many Chassidic circles their women do not drive? I recently posed this question to a few friends. I received answers ranging from “because they might drive away” to “because men are in control and they like to know where their women are at all times”. There were answers about women in these circles not needing independence or even wanting it. That this is the way it is. Chassidic women are not supposed to be “yatzanos” – those who go out, and having the ability to drive a car might tempt them to stray from the home. Driving a car is using a Kli Gever – a man’s object (I thought that only applied to guns?). Apparently also in the olden days only men drove buggies and rode horses, so that translates to driving in this day and age. In the olden days we didn’t have telephones, so I guess all Chassidim don’t have cell phones??!! Some modern inventions are ok, and some aren’t?

I know that it would be very difficult for me if I didn’t drive. Apart from the long  way trek every other weekend. Grocery shopping for a large family isn’t easy, and delivery isn’t an option everywhere. Ferrying the kids to and from school and after school events, or to buy a new pair of sneakers – not having the ability to hop behind the wheel and do this would make it all so much more complicated. Relying on my husband to drive me everywhere – so not for me. Yes, I know there are cab companies – but it adds up after a while.

I feel free behind the wheel, in control of my life to a certain point…perhaps that is the point. Maybe they just don’t want their women to feel free? Why do the women accept this? Why do they not try to change things? A friend who has a Chassidic background told me her mom was the only class mom who drove, something against the way they practice the religion. However, when they needed drivers for class trips, who did they call? Es passt nisht (it isn’t appropriate), until you need a lady driver…..

So glad to be Modern Orthodox…

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Medical Convo about Mumps and Judaism

vaccination[1]I was at the doctor today – follow up to the kidney infection that apparently has now metamorphasized into a kidney stone (got to love our healthcare system). This fellow could see I was a religious Jew – the sheitel, modest dress and the Hebrew necklace that I wear. He started talking to me about the mumps outbreak that seems to have hit a lot of the Jewish schools here. He heard it started at a religious camp in the Catskills and that a lot of the religious kids in Brooklyn are sick with it too. He wanted to know why if there is an outbreak the non-Jewish kids weren’t sick.

He asked me if there were sects of Jews who refuse to vaccinate their children due to religious reasons. I was honestly very surprised at the question, although thinking back, I shouldn’t have been. I explained to him that I highly doubt it. After all we are commanded to look after ourselves – venishmartem et nafshoteichem. If we need blood transfusions or surgery we have to do what we can to ensure our life isn’t in jeopardy. Vaccinating, I believe, falls into the same category. These childhood diseases are easily spread and can be fatal. That’s why most schools that I know of have a legal requirement that all children must be up to date on their vaccinations in order to attend.

But, as I told the doctor, I am not a rabbi or rabbanit and I certainly don’t have the level of knowledge to be able to categorically state that the majority of religious / Chassidic sects vaccinate their children.

Any of my JewCrew have something to contribute?

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Chassidim at Chuck E Cheese???

Ok, folks, up here in Montreal there are no kosher Subway franchises, Dunkin Donuts is not kosher nor is it ever likely to have a kosher place here either. Us Orthodox Montreal folks are really big on doing nothing to promote Ma’arat Ayin – the appearance of doing something wrong.

When I visited Brooklyn last summer and first stepped into kosher Dunkin Donuts and Subway I really felt like I was eating treife. It just seemed weird. I have been to a few more Dunkin Donuts since then, and in Israel we did Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken and tried a Pizza Hut too.

monsey trip july 4th weekend 029On a Sunday afternoon there are plenty of things to do in NY (as everywhere else) – laundry, cleaning, cooking, but the kids don’t really like that kind of activity, so you want to look for something fun and inexpensive for them to do. Apparently there is a place called Chuck E Cheese which has lots of Arcade games and stuff for kids to put tokens in and win prizes. Awesomeness. Ok sure, let’s go there! Kids will have fun and stop whining that they are bored. What? It’s a treife restaurant too?

I dunno, it just felt kinda weird – going to a treife restaurant to play games? Not really my thing, but when in Rome and all that. So we go in, they stamp our hands with the same UV number, different from everyone else – that’s to make sure that when we leave we leave with our own kids who have the same code. Smart.

The place is huge with all different games and pinball machines etc. We got tokens for the kids and off they went to have a blast. The restaurant and eating area was separate from the gaming area – and it wasn’t obviously a restaurant in my opinion.

Once the kids were all settled I looked at the mix of people around me – white, black, asian, latino….and chassidish?? What? Ok, I am not exactly irreligious, far from it, but my boys in their baseball caps and short trousers don’t look obviously Jewish and kinda blended in. If I, a modern orthodox woman, had issues going into Chuck E Cheese – what about the Chassidim? I mean, what if the Rebbe hears that they went to a treife restaurant? The Ma’arat Ayin would be huge for them. (It would be huge for me too…..but MOs are not held to the same standard as Chassidim).

From what I have heard before and since, the Monsey community in general is OK with the kids going to play in Chuck E Cheese (ok come Chuck E Cheese, pay me a royalty for everytime I say your name, ok?? Speak to my agent…..). We know they aren’t going there for the food, I don’t think my children even noticed that they sold food there! They were too busy winning their prizes and having good clean fun.

Truth is – if there was something similar here there is no way I would have taken my kids. It is just not done up here. Are we more discerning about where we take our kids, or are we more afraid of what people might think? We are told to be dan l’chaf z’chut – to judge favourably – but why put someone in that position to even think to judge you?

I went along with it because it sounded like fun for the kids and they had a great time. There was a huge weirdness and ick element in it for me, but that didn’t stop their enjoyment. Would I go again? Probably….but only because it seems to be socially acceptable in our community there.

What are your thoughts? Do standards change community to community? Place to place? Was this acceptable? Would it be to you? if you are chassidish what are your thoughts? (and why are you on the internet 😉 )