Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the prejudice category.

My foray into the world of frum journalism

I’ve decided to attempt some forays into the journalistic world of the frum community. Unfortunately I doubt that the people at Yeshiva World News will approve of article because they may actually take it seriously and find it too explicit. Hence I am left with no choice but publish it here.


Community Members Organize Yom Tefila for the Republican Campaign


BROOKLYN – Members of the organization Nshei Tefila, Sgulos, and Tehilasi are busy arranging for a yom tefila for the Republican campaign of presumptive presidential nominee John MCain.

            “Mr. McCain desperately needs our tefilos,” explained Mrs. Miryam Grossenberger, one of the organizers of this event  and chief directress of the organization Nshei Tefilah, whose full name is Nshei Tefilah Ha’Mispalilos B’Ad Shlomo Shel Am Yisrael Kulo Ad Binyan Bais Ha’Mikdash Bimheira B’yamein Amein Selah. “I was just calling my daughter the other day to find out about the weather – she’s not as Jewish, so she keeps a radio – and she told me about a Muslim who plans on becoming the president of the United States. As if it weren’t enough that a woman who didn’t know her place was at home thought she could be president! Anyway, I knew that this was terrible news for Eretz Yisroel and decided on the spot that I needed to do something.”

            “It truly is a sign of our times that so many members of klal yisrael do not realize the seriousness of the matzav,” added Chana Bracha Leya Leba Rosengarten, assistant directress of Nshei Tefilah. “Like the yetzer hara, this man has charmed himself to so many people so that they are blinded to his true character. The young people are so blinded by gashmius issues such as the economy and the Iraq war that they forget that this man will likely pass resolutions that will allow, lo aleinu, people of the same gender to marry each other, chas v’sholom.”

            “That’s how you know something must be done,” chimed in Chaya Leah Lieber, vice president of Nshei Tefila. “I saw on the television at my doctor’s office how excited all the young people became in the presence of that man. Anyone who can stir up young people that way obviously does not have the best interests of klal yisrael at heart.”

The yom tefila will take place on Tisha B’Av in shuls across Flatbush, Boro Park, Lakewood, and Yerusalayim. Several rabbanim will be providing divrei chizuk via a live hookup that will connect the communities. Individuals who are unable to attend the event are urged to make their hishtadlus from home. For example, Mrs. Chana Bracha Lamm of Tehilasi has distributed Tehilim booklets to several nursing mothers who will not be able to leave their homes. “With Hashem’s help, we will be able to have the entire sefer of Tehilim seventy times within a period of about three hours,” she stated. The president of Sgulos, who would like to remain unnamed for tznius reasons, added that homebound individuals can also light candles while eating rimonim, a special segulah for yeshua during such serious times.

May Hashem reward our efforts by keeping this terrible tragedy from falling upon us and may we always be zoche to have presidents who are both white and male ad binyan bais hamikdash, bimheira byameinu amen.


Travels and Travails on the Subway

Frum people will often give me a funny look when I tell them where my school is located and how I take the train there everyday. Then they give me the anxious questions or comments of my bravery. Whenever I maintain how non-scary the ride is, I always get small sympathetic smiles usually spared for those who have gone off their rocker.

So just to set the record straight – yes, I take buses and trains through neighborhoods where I am likely to be the only or one of the only white people, and no, I have never had a frightening experience. I’ve never been mugged, assaulted, or harrassed. In fact, I have a much better time than when travelling through the financial districts in Manhattan. Riding the train near my school is far more entertaining – the people are friendlier, more laid-back, and you meet all sorts of interesting – but non-frightening- folk.

First there are the Candymen. Not to be confused with the roly-poly white-haired guy in shul, the candy guys I’m talking about are a group of teenage young men who sell M&Ms and Jolly Ranchers on the subway, all making a variation of the following sales pitch: “Attention ladies and gentlemen, sorry for the interruption, I’m here today to sell candy, not to no basketball team or football team, just to have some money in my pockets to stay in school and out of trouble…” My favorite is the dude who says “I’m selling candy because it’s better than selling drugs…” How often does a bag of chocolate come with such a feel-good public service announcement? But seriously, these guys are often really sweet, even if a buck for M&Ms is a total rip-off.

Next are the hiphop gymansts. Every once in a while I run into these guys who play hip-hop on a boombox while they do all these cool dance and acrobatic moves on the subway pools. You gotta hand it to anyone who can do flips and somersaults on a crowded train. Not to mention anyone who can get a trainful of strangers laughing, clapping, and conversing amongst themselves about a common spectacle. Naturally they walk off the train with their own public service announcements, “Stay in school!” and “Don’t talk to strangers on the train, this is New York!”

Then there are the musicians.  For one thing, there are a few groups of Mariachis who play traditional Mexican music on their accordions. Then there is a barbershop quartet of middle-aged black men who sing spirituals or gospel songs with three different harmonies.  Yesterday I met a new musician who boards the train with an electric guitar and announces that he has come to serenade the Lovely Woman with the Gray Suit. He then starts singing “My Girl,” substituting some of the lyrics about the Woman in the Gray Suit, how she looks like a manager and probably gets to boss around lots of men at work, etc. He dedicated his next song to the Woman in the Yellow Shirt. At the chorus he calls out, “Come on, sing everyone! Even white people!” People then gave him money while he announced that he would accept cash, travellers checks, clothes, food, weed, and college credits. “I have three kids at home, and they all need iPods,” he said finally. Hopefully he was kidding, but in any case he seemed like such a sweet guy that I think I would have been willing to pay for one song off of iTunes for his kids. Yes, I’m a sucker. As is anyone who enjoys hours of subway travel.

But at least I don’t spend those hours biting off my nails, scared of all the frightening people with their carriages and children and packages who don’t hurt anyone.

Henry Higgins meets the frum community

Do you have a frum accent?

I was listening to a convo with my friends, who were discussing how you can always tell when frum people from Brooklyn call into the radio, and not because they say things like baruch Hashem a lot. This convo got me thinking about the phonetics of the frum dialect, at least the dialect I hear around me in Brooklyn.

According to an unofficial Gallup poll (Snarkodox, 2008),  many frum people believe that they can tell whether a wrong number they’ve dialed belongs to a frum person. (Of course, many of the right and wrong numbers will belong to frum people in this neighborhood, so that may be due to chance). Many also claim to differentiate frum Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Many of my surveyees also maintain that they can usually tell whether a non-Chasid or Chasida is from Flatbush or Boro Park solely based on accent. Most admitted to accent profiling when trying to determine whether someone is a BT or not (they claim it is not based on choice of words). 

Hence my non-official results are suggestive of the presence of a distinct “classic” Ashkenazi-frum accent, apparently discernible from the classic Syrian-Jewish, Italian- African-, Mexican-, Dominican-, and Russian-American accents. This is supported by the “yeshivish (dialect)” article by the highly reliable Wikipedia, which differntiates this dialect from the “Jewish New York” one. Of course not all frum Jews fit into this accent, just as not all people from other ethnic groups fit display “their” accent.

I’m curious about how people feel about their “frum” accent. Do you have  one? Have you ever had an experience when someone expected something of you solely based on the way you talk? (Because it’s not often to be judged by dress.) Anyone ever try to get ride of their frum accent, like at school or work? Ever told you sounded too frum (even by Orthodox people)? …