Thursday, August 13, 2015

Satmars of Williamsburg (part 2)

On my previous visit to the neighborhood I was told of a Chabad House, home for Jews of the Lubavitch sect, in the neighborhood. I was interested to see it because having the two sects in the same neighborhood is like mixing oil and water. Their dress, mannerisms, and social philosophy are entirely different: the Satmars go to great lengths to remain insular and separate - except in matters of commerce.

Whereas the Lubavitch make an effort to go out into the general population of whatever area they are in to seek out and contact other Jews, especially non-observant, to gently draw them in to their fold. They have been subjected to quite a bit of 'bad press' and animosity from other sects of Hasidim and many other groups of Jews. Judaism is no different in this respect from any other religious belief system - except that the members of the various sects are not intent on killing and destroying each other. More on this, the various sects of Hasidim, and the divisions in the family of Jews to come.

Besides religious observance, one common factor across the board of all highly observant Jewish communities is large families. The streets of any Hasidic neighborhood are always filled with men and women with their families of many children in tow.





For the most part the Satmars are reclusive and camera shy. But as I walked along the main drag of Lee Avenue carrying my camera, this gentleman, who was talking to someone on his mobile phone saw me coming, quickly groomed his beard and called me over. He told his conversant to hold on a minute because someone wanted to take his picture.



On Bedford Avenue I saw this child playing with his toy cash register and play coins scattered all over the sidewalk. He looked up at me and said 'Take my picture,' and after I did so, he said 'Let me see, let me see!'