Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Complete Guide To New York Chassidim

The world of New York chassidim, with all different factions and personalities, is very difficult to comprehend. Many sociologists have attempted to untangle it, but it's hard for anyone to grasp all the facts, relationships, names and nuances. Here is an extraordinary authoritative presentation by a leading expert in the field. (Note - if you are reading this via email subscription, you will have to go to www.rationalistjudaism.com in order to watch the video.)

  


Clearly, even while being aware of the problems in chassidic society, he still has a very positive view of them, which is nice.


(Hat-tip: Reuven Brauner)

35 comments:

  1. This guy is amazing! Love his Yiddish!

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  2. But come on, this is the most knowledgeable non-Jew regarding chassidic politics in the world. The vast majority have no idea what's going on and view all the chassids as the same. Most litvaks don't know as much as this guy. So the fact that he has a positive view of them reflects on him, not on the perception of chassidim among their neighbors in general.

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  3. Amazing! Why would anyone listen to this shtus ?

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  4. Interviewer won't let the guy leaveMay 27, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    Rabbi Slifkin, how about placing a warning above a video saying, "There might be lashon hara in this video."

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  5. I can't get over how his *English* has become Yiddish-inflected. The whole thing is like the punchline to a Bernard Malamud story. Just wow.

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  6. Chassidic societies are of course closed by definition. Despite corruption and other scandals my perception is that the vast vast majority of people in this world lead happy and productive lives dedicated to family, Torah and Mitvzot. Whilst I do find it hard to relate to a worldview that totally shuns the outside world (as I myself live in the outside world) I still admire their many qualities. I think every society has its flaws. Going back to the days of Tenach we see no tribe immune from problems.

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  7. What really gets me (Reb Yoeli would blanch at being called Rabbi Joe, but..) is the not so veiled attack by the guy holding the camera on Nachum Rosenberg. What is telling is that the smart black guy knew better, but politically played along. After all, the first thing the interviewer did was try to get him to say Rosenberg was a liar and all the rest flowed from that. As a member of the "family" who was shoved off the derech as an agunah at 19, all of this is just unreal. Millions of dollars and no menschlichkeit on the part of the chassidim, and this guy manages very well, to float between the factions. Good for him. I hope one day he writes a book.

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    1. Listen to it again. I believe the interviewer steered him to speak positively about NR.

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  8. We should be careful about re-posting this type of video, Rabbi. The title "The Famous Black Smart Guy" is mildly or extremely racist (depending on your perspective) and part of the "fun" of the video is watching a black man "perform." Another implication is that "black" people are not smart, or at least not smart enough. If a white non-Jewish person did this, would it be as "funny"? I doubt it.

    That's just my two cents, but maybe some other folks will agree with me (although I hope it doesn't get to the level of the "pictures of rabbis in newspaper getting pooped on" hysteria that swept through this site (a year? two?) ago.

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    1. I will answer your question in the affirmative, it would not be as funny. That being so, I see aboslutely no problem with this video or the title. Basketball wouldn't be as fun if it was being performed by whites, and neither would a social commentary on Hassidim. Are youtube videos titles like "white guy can't jump" racist and should be censored? Also can you define racist for me? I am interested in hearing your definition.

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  9. A window into what some people's Shabbos tables sound like, a window into what people really care about and talk about in some circles.

    Given that he's such a sponge when it comes to hearing what people around him like to talk about, it would be interesting to ask him if he ever heard of Rashi or Ramban, in addition to whose fighting with whom.

    Not just a window, but a mirror that allows some of us to hear what we sound like and what piques our interest.

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    1. the fights that he mentions between the various groups - he took the camp, he wouldn't allow his wife to see some relative - these are such NOTHINGS of issues.

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  10. M. Singer, I think is being a little too sensitive to the matter as a race issue. The point is, that the guy is someone so obviously outside the "community." If the person had been an Indian or Chinese immigrant, or a redneck-type from Appalachia, it could have been received to the same humorous effect.

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    1. no, it's funny precisely because a "shvarts" is doing it!

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  11. You travelling through Los Angles and its eating you up those thoughts that perhaps the daas torah of Rabbi Feldman was correct and Baltimore would have been a better place for you to live than RBS. Cmon, you know you feel better with that community, and as a bonus all the strife klal yisroel have to suffer because of your blog would have never happened.
    Sometimes its hard to admit to the truth

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  12. Rav Slifkin owes an apology to non-Satmar Chassidim of NY due to his choice of title.
    He would be upset if someone called a subspecies as representing the entire species in the genus.

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  13. It's certainly entertaining and a real mirror/window (as stated before). And, of course the Yiddish words he peppers in his conversation with the chasidishe pronunciation he hears it spoken.

    He seems like a decent man -- so what i find disturbing is that i sense the person filming was mocking him, making fun of this man, treating him like a spectacle in a circus for us to laugh at.

    Is that what we're doing?

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    1. Yes. It's a low IQ and low culture entertainment. Typical of hassidim. That this shtus gets posted and discussed here is amazing.

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    2. No doubt about it.

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    3. "Typical of hassidim"
      Keep it classy, Carol.

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  14. From hanging around with Pinchas ben Yair, his donkey learned to act righteously and not steal.

    From hanging around the people this fellow hung around with, this fellow learned who hates whom.

    Kind of tells you that something is wrong, if that's what a person hanging around us would learn today.

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  15. It's a shame this video is just dumbed down with community politics. I'm more interested in the man's hashkafa.

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  16. What a grand performance by a smart businessman. One says "performance" because the interviewee is clearly a bright chap who has learned how to astound and amuse and to play on the in-fighting, the low-brow gossip culture and prejudices of his clients by peppering his over-the-top Black English with Yiddish, strategically praising his clients and trashing their enemies..."coincidentally" all in terms they use and like (e.g., "she is a holy lady," etc.). Exactly what they want to hear and how they want to hear it...playing them like a cheap fiddle, he is. Someone with his evident aptitude with dialects can surely slip into Standard but it's interesting to see two Creole languages (in linguistic terms) combined for effect. The performance is hardly a sociological study...although one is sure he's more than capable of providing such...it's more of a well-prepped self-advertorial and an outline of his most lucrative business connections. All the power to him!

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  17. What I take away from this video is is the deep split in Satmar between the Aharoni's and the Zalmi's. The man in the video is clearly a supporter of the Aharoni's. Are there any plain un-hyphenated Satmar Hasidim left?

    Lawrence Kaplan.

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    1. No. However some hassidic groups, like Spinka of Williamsburg (Horowitz) follow Satmar rebbe's haskofah while not not being formally Satmar and not taking sides in the machlokes.

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    2. It's an apostrophe (') not a hyphen(-). it's also an incorrect usage of the apostrophe which should only be used to indicate possession or, as shown earlier in the first word in this sentence, as an abbreviation of "It is."

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    3. Pedant Moniker, You are a riot!

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    4. Pedant Moniker: Yes, I slipped, and I should have written "Aharonis" and "Zalmis" without the apostrophes. You could have corrected me without your unnecessary and condescending grammar lesson.. I am well aware of the uses of an apostrophe, and try--alas, unavailingly-- to drum into my students' heads the difference between "it's" [ =it is] and "its" [possessive].

      You misunderstood my reference to "unhyphenated." I was asking whether we can still refer to plain unhyphenated "Satmar" Hasidim or from now on have to refer to "Aharoni-Satmar and "Zalmi-Satmar" Hasidim.

      I recently had an encounter with those pedants frequenting this blog when I dared to suggest that there is no hard-and -fast rule that the adverb "only " must always be placed directly before the precise part of the sentence it strictly qualifies. For ease, I referred in support of my position to a citation I found by goggling. I now refer those who were not satisfied by my "lowly" Google authority to that "supreme arbiter of usage," Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition.: Fowler's comments on those who insist on this rule in all instances, even where there is no danger of misunderstanding and where insisting on the rule can lead to awkwardness and infelicity, are so scorching as to almost set the page on fire.

      Lawrence Kaplan

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    5. They are called Bnei Yoel, look it up, they themselves are controversial.

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  18. The fellow clearly understands what is important to chasidim on a day to day basis: rebbishe politics. All the other stuff, meh!

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  19. You mean "The complete guide to 'Williamsburg' Chassidim"?

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  20. Unfortunately, even Rationalist Jews engage in racism. As a black Orthodox Jew I find this offensive. I am disturbed that Rabbi Slifkin would publicize such a video.

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    1. Good point. It's like a poritz being entertained by having a Jewish dance with a bear. Like I'd said - low IQ and low culture. They dress like a polish poritz and enjoy the same level of entertainment. Savages. Barbarians.
      I think I'm gonna get censored.

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  21. I don't understand a word of this video. It's from another planet.

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