32

Crown Heights

CH intro

 

What a week. It started in the Caribbean and ended up in Russia…

This week’s neighbourhood, Crown Heights, was actually the very first one Coco and I stuck our noses in when we arrived in NY three weeks ago. I knew it was a West Indian enclave but what I didn’t know until I started talking to the locals there was that every year it hosts a huge carnival – the Labour Day Parade, a celebration of West Indian/Caribbean culture that stomps and shimmies its way down the main drag (Eastern Parkway) on the first Monday in September.

How could I miss that? I decided to put Crown Heights off until then and chose another neighbourhood for my first NY installment.

Which is how I ended up ‘in the Caribbean’ last Monday. And the Russia bit? We’ll get to that later.

First, some facts. Crown Heights is in Brooklyn. Was posh and white in the early 20th century, then became more working class and black, a mix of West Indian and African American – while at the same time housing a large Hasidic Jewish minority. This mix of such different cultures was the original reason I wanted to explore the neighbourhood – and after last week’s look at the South Williamsburg Jews, I was even more intrigued.

Let’s go Crown Heights!

 

Part 1: Before the parade

Before I decided to put Crown Heights on ice until the Labour Day Parade, I’d already taken quite a few snaps. It was a Saturday, and across Eastern Parkway I noticed smartly dressed women sitting on benches.

Turns out they were from the Seventh Day Adventist Church across the street and Saturday was their church day. Having found the black Africans a little chilly in Paris, I approached with caution – but I needn’t have. You couldn’t hope to meet a friendlier bunch of people than the congregation of Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church.

 

 

in their Saturday best - outside the Seventh-Day Adventist Church - Danie, Sunshine and girls

in their Saturday best – Danie, Sunshine and girls

 

 

 

 

"Black women shouldn't have to straighten or braid their hair" - Danie, fighting for follicle freedom

“Black women shouldn’t have to straighten or braid their hair” – Danie, fighting for follicle freedom

 

 

 

 

perfect lines

the opposite – perfect lines

 

 

 

 

Patricia and Shianne :: 1

Patricia and Shianne :: 1

 

 

 

 

Patricia and Shianne :: 2

Patricia and Shianne :: 2

 

 

 

 

"I always wear a hat to church, always"

“I always wear a hat to church, always”

 

 

 

 

That church was just one of the many that we would find during our time in Crown Heights – and they come in all different shapes and sizes. From the Seventh Day Adventists to the Baptist churches and the Spiritual churches – and Mount Faith Zion Church, headed by Bishop Roach…

 

 

Bishop R.C. Roach, Mount Faith Zion Church

Bishop R.C. Roach, Mount Faith Zion Church

 

 

 

 

all welcome

all welcome

 

 

 

 

On the first wander in Crown Heights we also met some delightful local kids, all from a Jamaican background – Naomi and brother Fabian were having a ‘go’ of a stretch limo parked outside their house. They knew the driver and were testing it out.

 

 

rockstar for a second - Naomi :: 1

rockstar for a second – Naomi :: 1

 

 

 

 

rockstar for a second - Naomi :: 2

rockstar for a second – Naomi :: 2

 

 

 

 

Fabian

Fabian

 

 

 

 

Before leaving I took a quick shot of Naomi with a friend, hanging outside their homes on Eastern Parkway. It would be a very different scene when I returned three weeks later…

 

 

chillin' - Naomi and Kalila

chillin’ – Naomi and Kalila

 

 

 

 

Part 2: The Labour Day Parade

Like I said, a very different Crown Heights greeted me as I hopped off the 3 train last Monday – wild, deafeningly loud and incredibly proud. This was the West Indies’ day – Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago et al – and they were making sure everyone knew it.

 

 

a statue of liberty

a statue of liberty

 

 

 

 

"It's a chance for my kids to see my culture" - Jamaican born Virginia and her girls

“It’s a chance for my kids to see my culture” – Jamaican born Virginia and her girls

 

 

 

 

Jaden and Joel

Jaden and Joel

 

 

 

 

Robert - "I'm from Jamaica of course!"

Robert – “I’m from Jamaica of course!”

 

 

 

 

because it wasn't noisy enough - Daniel playing the air horn

because it wasn’t noisy enough – Daniel playing the air horn

 

 

 

 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

 

 

 

 

And the parade itself? Rhinestones, glitter, feathers and lots of skin – I was no longer in South Williamsburg…

 

 

a bird of paradise in a sea of blue

a bird of paradise in a sea of blue

 

 

 

 

he can't take his eyes off her

he can’t take his eyes off her

 

 

 

 

For months, costume-makers have been hunched over hot glue-guns, applying copious amounts of rhinestones and feathers to outfits like Alana’s…

 

 

more rhinestones and feathers than usual

more rhinestones and feathers than usual

 

 

 

 

marching for Trinidad and Tobago :: 1

marching for Trinidad and Tobago :: 1

 

 

 

 

marching for Trinidad and Tobago :: 2

marching for Trinidad and Tobago :: 2

 

 

 

 

I like his head dress too

I like his head dress too

 

 

 

 

purple pucker

purple pucker

 

 

 

 

all shapes and sizes :: 1

all shapes and sizes :: 1

 

 

 

 

all shapes and sizes :: 2

all shapes and sizes :: 2

 

 

 

 

Days later Coco and I visited the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden – and all the memories of the Labour Day Parade came flooding back…

 

 

yellow eyes :: 1

yellow eyes :: 1

 

 

 

 

yellow eyes :: 2

yellow eyes :: 2

 

 

 

 

scales :: 1

scales :: 1

 

 

 

 

scales :: 2

scales :: 2

 

 

 

 

scales :: 3

scales :: 3

 

 

 

 

Part 3: The Chabad-Lubavitch Jews of Crown Heights

I did know before I visited the nighbourhood that the Hasidic Jews of Crown Heights – from the Chabad or Lubavitch sect – were known as the ‘friendly’ and more relaxed Hasidic Jews. But I still couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw some Chabad Jews wandering down the street during the Labour Day Parade. They weren’t exactly standing on the side-lines, cheering the marchers on, but they seemed pretty fine about it. One Jewish man, Stewart, told me it was a good thing. A young Jewish boy, Daniel, had set up a stall of his old toys outside his home with his grandfather and mum nearby. Maybe it wasn’t exactly kosher but it was clearly okay. (Oh, and yes, they were totally fine about me photographing them – hooray!)

 

 

"It's good" - Stewart

“It’s good” – Stewart

 

 

 

 

Daniel outside his house with a toy stall

Daniel outside his house with a toy stall

 

 

 

 

living side by side

living side by side

 

 

 

 

The next time Coco and I visited the neighbourhood I noticed a large group of young male Chabad Jews outside a building across from their main synagogue, 770, on Eastern Parkway. We wandered over to find that the building was a dormitory for the men who were all overseas students, attending the school inside the synagogue. Because this was no ordinary synagogue – for Chabad Jews, 770 (known as that because of its address, 770 Eastern Parkway) is the most important synagogue in the world.

 

 

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 1

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 1

 

 

 

 

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 2

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 2

 

 

 

 

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 3

from Israel to Crown Heights :: 3

 

 

 

 

Amazing really, given the neighbourhood’s many churches and that earlier, just a few blocks west, we’d seen a Muslim family hit the tarmac to pray.

 

 

prayer, wherever it needs to be

prayer, wherever it needs to be

 

 

 

 

Crown Heights – neighbourhood of churches, synagogues and make-shift mosques.

 

 

reborn - tattoo man and the former movie theatre, now church

reborn – tattoo man and the former movie theatre, now church

 

 

 

 

Part 4: Three weddings in one day

On our last visit to the area, Coco and I stumbled on three weddings all happening on Eastern Parkway.

The first was being held in the Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church that we’d come across that very first day – it was a Sunday and I wondered why their door was open, given that Saturday was their church day. So we took a quick peek inside – to see a very nervous looking bride waiting for proceedings to begin.

 

 

Sophie at Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, about to walk up the aisle :: 1

Sophie, about to walk up the aisle :: 1

 

 

 

 

Sophie at Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, about to walk up the aisle :: 2

Sophie, about to walk up the aisle :: 2

 

 

 

 

Not wanting to add to her nerves, we quietly left and continued walking east along the Parkway – until we noticed a group of women sitting outside the Oholei Torah Center, not far from the 770 synagogue. By now I knew that the Chabad Jews were pretty cool about photography – and that their reputation for being friendly was well-earned – but these women were especially welcoming.

 

 

relatives of the bride and groom wait outside the Oholei Torah Center

relatives of the bride and groom wait outside the Oholei Torah Center

 

 

 

 

So welcoming in fact that it seemed perfectly normal to sidle up to one of them, Libby, and ask, “So is that a wig you’re wearing?”

 

 

Libby

Libby

 

 

 

 

(Yes, it was a wig. ‘Really?’ – ‘Really’. Libby explained that like the Williamsburg Jews, they have to wear them, but that they can wear any style of wig, they don’t have to wear hats and they certainly don’t have to shave their heads.)

 

 

Libby's daughter

Libby’s daughter

 

 

 

 

After taking a few shots, Goldie, the woman in the purple outfit in the third to last image above, asked if Coco and I wanted to take a look inside.

I didn’t take a shot of the room – it was a fairly nondescript convention hall (although interestingly, the women were on one side of a screen, the men on the other). But I loved talking to Goldie – she’s a Rabbi’s wife and a million other things but this 48 year old mother of nine was the perfect person to quiz about all things Chabad. Having just experienced a little of the Williamsburg Jews, I was intrigued about the differences between them. Goldie explained that while they had the same Hasidic religion, they had very different philosophies. A major one was that the Chabads were actively encouraged to go into the outside world to make the world a better place, one good deed at a time.

I spent so long talking to Goldie that I missed the bride’s arrival outside in the better light – but I got one shot of her sitting on a special seat.

 

 

the bride, Chaya, before the ceremony

the bride, Chaya, before the ceremony

 

 

 

 

Feeling that we’d stayed long enough – what did these brides think of a complete stranger suddenly appearing? – I thanked Chaya, Goldie and the other women and headed back onto Eastern Parkway.

We’d only walked another minute when I spotted a large gathering across the street, right outside the 770 synagogue. Yes, it was another Chabad wedding, but this was the actual ceremony, when the bride and groom stand under a chuppah and various things happen.

I couldn’t see anything until it was too late – I just caught sight of the bride and groom disappearing into the synagogue for the next step in the ceremony, where they spend 10 minutes alone in the yichud room. They’ve had to fast the whole day so finally this is when they can eat something – and technically, this is the first time they’re allowed to be alone together. Oh, and also, they’ve had to spend the week before the wedding apart. Why, I asked someone? “Anticipation!” they answered gleefully.

 

 

step 1 - the ceremony under the chuppah

step 1 – the ceremony under the chuppah

 

 

 

 

step 2 - the bride and groom enter the yichud room

step 2 – the bride and groom enter the yichud room

 

 

 

 

By then I’d met the brother of the groom and his mother. I thought she looked quite exotic and when she talked I realised she was Russian, as were several others around her – and then I remembered, that was where Chabad Jews originated from, over 200 years ago. Standing there, waiting for the bride and groom to come back out, surrounded by Russian voices and the black hats, admiring the groom’s mother’s piercing blue eyes and pale unlined skin, I felt that I’d been transported – across the seas to a land of snow and ice and red wine. Red wine?! More like vodka – red wine was what I had to pick up for dinner – Coco and I had been invited to a friend’s house and we were late, we had to go!

For the last time that day we said our goodbyes and jumped into a taxi.

 

 

from Russia with love - the groom's Russian mum and brother

from Russia with love – the groom’s Russian mum and brother

 

 

 

 

step 3 - exit the building as man and wife

step 3 – exit the building as man and wife

 

 

 

 

married at 20 - Talia :: 1

married at 20 – Talia :: 1

 

 

 

 

married at 20 - Talia :: 2

married at 20 – Talia :: 2

 

 

 

 

lacework

lacework

 

 

 

 

Mazal Tov Chaim and Talia!

Mazal Tov Chaim and Talia!

 

 

 

 

Part 5: Love and peace

Crown Heights has had its troubles – there were riots in 1991, a real low point in relations between the black and Jewish communities – but wandering around its quiet back streets or even along Eastern Parkway at sunset, it seems like a pretty chilled place, one that’s able to accommodate even the most different faiths and peoples.

 

 

brownstones in golden light

brownstones in golden light

 

 

 

 

the quiet life on Eastern Parkway -  Sierra-Maree and Kimani

the quiet life on Eastern Parkway – Sierra-Maree and Kimani

 

 

 

 

of all descriptions

of all descriptions

 

 

 

 

they do a pretty good job of it in Crown Heights

they do a pretty good job of it in Crown Heights

 

 

 

 

The Wrap

Crown Heights knows how to throw a wild party  – and apparently the Labour Day Parade used to be a lot wilder, in every respect. But even so, I absolutely loved it. I remember walking down the street, through the glitter and the feathers and the broad smiles, thinking, I know it’s cliched but I really LOVE New York! And that was before I felt the joy of being able to take photos of the wonderfully warm Chabad Jews, at their weddings no less. It’s a week that made me feel full of gratitude. Gawd. I think I’m going to have to go get my hanky now.

 

 

Coco and I snapping the fish

Coco and I snapping the fish

 

 

 

On the ‘home front’

All pretty quiet on the home front. Except for the usual arguments about Coco spending too long on that blooming iPad. But as I usually complain about it while chained to my own computer, it doesn’t really cut deep. She also got to see a whole load of creepy, crawly spiders this week at the American Museum Of Natural History. Not with me though – anyone who knows my story (an Australian White-Tail Spider basically decimated half a thumb of mine) knows I don’t do spiders.

 This suburb has been brought to you by Nadine Lee

 —

 See you next Monday-ish.

 

31

South Williamsburg

Will NEW intro

Last time I was in NY four years ago I spent an afternoon wandering around the orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Borough Park in Brooklyn. It blew my mind and ever since I’ve been keen to go back. But this time around, instead of Borough Park I chose another Hasidic enclave in Brooklyn in south Williamsburg.

Not only was it meant to be even more Hasidic than Borough Park. It also happened to sit right alongside a group of people with similarly strong but almost opposite beliefs – the hipsters. This I had to see.

Only one problem – Hasidic Jews aren’t exactly crazy about having their photos taken. Would I even get a single shot? And hipsters, well, they can be tricky too.

Turns out the hipsters were a pushover. The Hasidim, not. Like really not.

More of that later. First up, some facts … Way back in 1638 the Dutch West India Company bought the area from the local Native Americans. Fast forward to post-WWII when Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors arrived to escape Europe and start again, by building a shtetl of their own in South Williamsburg. They succeeded and the area is now almost exclusively ultra-orthodox Hasidic, and growing all the time – the average number of children is eight.

Ready?

 

Part 1: To set the scene

They shoot a lot of movies in NY so you could be forgiven for thinking, as you head down from North Williamsburg and cross Broadway onto Lee Avenue, that you must’ve stumbled onto a movie set. A period piece with bearded men in black hats and long coats, and women, all looking strikingly the same with well-groomed hair, thick pale stockings and flat heels, pushing prams. Lots of prams.

But no. The sudden change of scene – from diverse, ‘whatever goes’ NYC to The Old World – is merely a sign you’ve hit the otherworldly world of South Williamsburg’s Hasidic Jews.

A few images to set the scene…

 

and, action!

and, action!

 

 

 

 

pram city - Lee Avenue

pram city – Lee Avenue

 

 

 

 

Jewish school buses by the truck load

Jewish school buses by the truck load

 

 

 

 

mum and her boys

mum and her boys

 

 

 

 

Part 2: The Hasidim and the hipsters

Okay, so that’s the south of Williamsburg. A monoculture of modestly dressed, extremely pious Hasidic Jews who are attempting to live in a world of their own it seems. Problem is, they’re actually living in one of the most densely populated and diverse cities in the world. Their neighbours to the north, for example, have a very different set of beliefs. At the core of them are two highly regarded tenets – wear as little as possible when the humidity and heat of a NY summer start to bite, and ride bikes whenever and wherever possible. Yes, I’m talking about the hipsters of course.

Just those two beliefs alone were enough to cause the Bike Lane Wars not so long ago, when the Hasidim could no longer turn a blind eye, or any eye for that matter, to the scantily clad female hipster whizzing through their part of Williamsburg on her fixed-gear. The Hasidim managed to get the bike lanes removed and in the process piss the hipsters off big time.

That was a while back but I can’t imagine these two groups get on very well nowadays. They don’t appear to stray into eachother’s territory but around Broadway there’s a section where they can’t help overlap. It feels like one big social experiment…

 

 

the bike lane wars

the cause of the bike lane wars

 

 

 

 

neighbours :: 1

black and white

 

 

 

 

neighbours ::  2

lace

 

 

 

 

neighbours :: 3

skin

 

 

 

 

crowns

crowns

 

 

 

 

markings

markings

 

 

 

 

head gear :: 1

head gear :: 1

 

 

 

 

head gear :: 2

head gear :: 2

 

 

 

 

beards

beards

 

 

 

 

philosophies

philosophies

 

 

 

 

As annoying as it must have been to the hipsters to have part of the bike lanes disappear, can you picture them flying along, all bare limbed and tattooed, alongside the long coats and opaque tights?

 

 

hats not helmets

hats not helmets

 

 

 

 

Part 3: A learning curve – or not

If you’ve been following my project(s) for a while you’ll know that while I’m not religious, I am fascinated by different religions and cultures. And a large part of both my Sydney project and this one is about learning more about these religions and cultures.

The way I do this is simple – I stop people in the street, have a chat and often end up photographing them.

Normally, if someone says, no thanks I don’t want to talk or be photographed, that’s absolutely fine. I just move on.

But when practically everyone I meet says, no thanks to either one or both requests, it becomes a problem – especially when it’s the photograph they’re refusing, my main ‘tool’ being a camera and this being largely a photographic project.

And that’s exactly what happened in South Williamsburg. 80% of the people I stopped refused to talk and 99%, to be photographed.

Yes, of course they had every right to do that. It’s a free country.

But on the other hand, their ancient religion and lifestyle is so fascinating, I found it very frustrating that they didn’t want to share.

I was told it was because they don’t like to “advertise” and that they worried where the photos would end up. But the more I learnt about the Hasidim – from the few who were happy to share and from researching their religion wherever I could – I can’t help feel it’s more about shunning those in the outside world.

A grave pity given that their culture and religion is one of the oldest and most interesting in the world.

But as I said, there were some who agreed to be photographed – and a handful who let me photograph them on the condition that I not show their faces.

With these limitations in place, I proceeded to try and learn a little about their world, starting with the basic stuff – what they wore…

 

 

hats

hats

 

 

 

 

once the ring goes on, the head is shaved and the wig and hat go on

once the ring goes on, the head is shaved and the wig and hat go on

 

 

 

 

the turban is worn around or near the house - Rachel

the turban is worn around or near the house – Rachel

 

 

 

 

the everyday hat

the everyday hat

 

 

 

 

or the shtreimel on Saturdays - Meyer

Saturday’s hat, the shtreimel – Meyer

 

 

 

 

One of the most distinctive features of the male Hasidim of course is the peyote or side-curl…

 

 

curls

curls

 

 

 

 

Moving on from the head to the long coats that the men wear (and start wearing at age 13). Aside from the everyday coat there’s the glossy bekishe that they wear on Shabbat, their day of rest on Saturday, and for other special occasions.

 

 

all dressed up - wearing the bekishe

all dressed up – wearing the bekishe

 

 

 

 

Now to the kids. Aside from there being a lot of them – as I mentioned earlier, the average number of children in a family is eight – siblings are almost all dressed the same. Not just twins or similarly aged kids but everyone.

 

 

matching :: 1

matching :: 1

 

 

 

 

matching :: 1

matching :: 2

 

 

 

 

matching :: 3

matching :: 3

 

 

 

 

matching :: 4

matching :: 4

 

 

 

 

While on the subject of kids, apparently they’re not allowed to watch any TV or internet (not such a bad thing in many ways). And they play with a lot of toys manufactured especially for the orthodox Jewish market. I asked one woman whether the kids would know Dora – “Who’s Dora?” she said. Mickey Mouse? Yes, “He’s on the nappy packaging”. Donald Duck? “Probably not”.

 

 

they may dress like me but they don't even know who I am

they may dress like me but they don’t even know who I am

 

 

 

 

Part 4: Other aspects of Hasidic life

The Hasidim have their own police and fire departments, as well as ambulance and bus service.

On one of our visits to South Williamsburg, Coco and I came across a group of school boys who were pretending to be firefighters and members of the Hatzolah Emergency Medical Service. Surprisingly the teacher on duty allowed me to take a few photos and the boys didn’t look at me like I was from outer space. Well, not much anyway.

 

 

learning about the Jewish emergency services

learning about the Jewish emergency services

 

 

 

 

fire chiefs in the making

fire chiefs in the making

 

 

 

 

On another visit we saw trucks filled with boxes – the boys had been to summer camp and were unloading their stuff.

 

 

unloading after summer camp

unloading after summer camp

 

 

 

 

taking a break

taking a break

 

 

 

 

Many summers later these same boys will very likely end up spending their lives not working as such but studying their religion – all over the neighbourhood there are men with their noses in prayer books.

 

 

at the office :: 1

at the office :: 1

 

 

 

 

at the office :: 2

at the office :: 2

 

 

It’s just one of the many differences between men and women in this community – the men study while the women look after their handful or two of kids. (They marry, by the way, as young as 19 years of age and start a family immediately – I didn’t realise this for a few days so I assumed to begin with that the flawless skinned teenagers pushing prams around must be nannies or baby-sitters. No. They’re mums.)

The other difference between men and women that I found fascinating/shocking is that the men sit in the front of the special all-Jewish buses, the women, in the back. I know it has to do with segregating the sexes because the men are forbidden to look at women but this is happening in NYC in 2012?

 

 

on the all-Jewish general bus - men at the front, women at the back

on the all-Jewish general bus – men at the front, women at the back

 

 

 

 

Part 5: At last

I did have some good talks with a few people in the neighbourhood. The bookshop guy was especially open and helpful and was determined to convince me that the Hasidim of Williamsburg weren’t unfriendly but merely guarded.

But by and large I found the closed and insular nature of the community to be hard to handle. Especially the way the kids have obviously be taught to shun outsiders – surely there are other good people in the world aside from Hasidic Jews?

Anyway, it’s complicated and this little ole blog ain’t the place to debate it all.

And guess what? Just as I was losing hope that I’d never come across any open-minded members of the community and was in fact leaving the neighbourhood for the last time, I met Gitty.

I’d bought some super-sized ‘black and white’ biscuits so typical of the area and I wanted to find a couple of Jewish kids to hold them while I photographed them. Of course I wouldn’t be able to photograph the kids, just their hands holding the biscuits.

So I wandered up to a woman with two boys and asked, would you mind if I got your boys to hold the cookies. “Of course, now smile boys!”, she said.

You what? You mean, I can photograph their faces? “Sure”, she said, “I’m a photographer too and I know you would’ve had a tough time here. I know I look like everyone else but I’m very open-minded”.

I could’ve kissed Gitty’s stockinged feet. The boys smiled, I smiled, Gitty smiled. Could I photograph her too? “Sure”.

It may not be the most interesting image in the world – but it’s one of my favourites.

 

 

at last

at last :: 1

 

 

 

 

at last :: 2

at last :: 2

 

 

 

After thanking her profusely we got talking and I discovered she wasn’t entirely happy in her closed community. Mostly she worried about her six kids, in particular her talented daughter. But she couldn’t leave. She was, as she put it, “stuck”.

Yet she’d single-handedly restored my faith in the community of South Williamsburg. As she said, “There are nice people here you know, you just haven’t met many of them.”

I wished Gitty well and for the last time that week, crossed the invisible line that separates the Old World from modern-day NYC.

Walking over the Williamsburg Bridge towards Manhatten I couldn’t help think that it’s too easy to accuse the Hasidic community of South Williamsburg of being either wonderfully family-oriented or crazily archaic and extremist – it’s just not that black and white.

 

 

it's not that black and white :: 2

it’s not that black and white :: 2

 

 

 

 

On the bridge I noticed the Star of David with a love heart in the middle, surrounded by graffiti scrawls – Judaism in the midst of messy life. Now that’s totally kosher.

 

 

the writing's on the Williamsburg Bridge

the writing’s on the Williamsburg Bridge

 

 

 

 

love

kosher

 

 

 

 

The Wrap

I found this week tough going from a photographic perspective but incredibly interesting. Many thanks to those who did agree to share a little about their lives as Hasidic Jews, especially those who were brave enough to let me photograph them. I just wished I had met more people like Gitty and her sons – but then I think I was lucky enough to meet anyone like them at all.

And how different are the hipsters and the Hasidim? Although having said that, they both wear a lot of black and the men on both sides seem to all have beards. If they could just agree on that bike lane issue, you never know, they could be friends. It is NY after all – weird stuff happens here all the time.

 

 

 

NYC is a world in itself so hop on that M train and go see it!

NYC is a world in itself so hop on that M train and go see it!

 

 

 

On the ‘home front’

What home front? Coco now has two sets of friends to play with, one lot upstate and the other based in Brooklyn. There’s been playdates, sleepovers, movies. She’s hardly been at home. Which is so lovely I have to say after months of hanging out with her aged mother. But it has meant that my determination to get stuck into home schooling has been delayed, yet again. I’m more relaxed about it now though – these last two weeks Coco seems to have learned so much via the School of Life method, first about Islam and now about Judaism and Hasidim. Even the ‘American Doll’ books that she forced me to buy her turned out to be quite educational. And anyway, there’s always the maths tutor right?

And me? Aside from forgetting to renew my domain name (woops) and the blog completely disappearing for a day, I’m just dandy. I’m in NY, how could I be otherwise?

 —

This suburb has been brought to you by Elizabeth Cage & Mitch Arvidson

 —

See you next Monday-ish.

 

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