Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crown Heights - Day 3, A Cool Dude

As I continue my exploration of the Chabad-Lubavitcher cultuyre in Crown Heights, I continue to be surprised by the differences with the Satmar Chasids of Williamsburg. The Williamsburg community has sought to crete an insular community sealed off from the rest of the world except for the contact that is necessary to bring in resources to allow it to flourish. When I walk the streets in Williamsburg, except in a few instances, I'm eyed with suspicion and condescension. The culture of Satmar is very inwardly directed. They've created their own shtetl and want to be left alone.

The Chabad-Liubavitcher, on the other hand, are very outwardly directed. They work to bring the teachings of their rebbe, Menachim Schneerson, to other Jews and are much more open and accepting of those that don't quite see spirituality the same way. When I'm in Williamsburg I suspect the Satmars look at me as though I'm not even Jewish because I don't live their way. The Chabad-Lubavitcher reach out to meet others on some common ground and draw them in. On this most recent visit to Crown Heights, when I visited the synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway, a young man approached me to ask about my cameras and why I was taking pictures, not to dissuade me from shooting, but out of a curiosity about my mission. And by the way, he asked me if I had put on tfilin that day, a daily practice that they encourage, and when I answered that, indeed, I had (honest, I did) he was genuinely pleased. I look forward to going back there.

Some photos I was given by the people that day: