Friday, October 26, 2007


In today's episode of DovBear:Anthropologist we take you deep into the world of the LW Hasidic Jew. These creatures are generally found in shteibels, paying nominal respect to petty rebbelahs who they mostly ignore. The LW Hassidic Jew is recognized by his gartel, poor command of English, and habit of showing up late. If you want to trap one for further study, use cholent and kugel as bait. Here are some of his unique customs and practices.

Wachnacht: On the eve of a bris, all of the neighborhood children gather at the infant's bedside and SCREAM shma at the top of their little lungs. For this they are rewarded with peckalahs (Yiddish: "bag full of cholev yisroel/pas yisroel treats, each having at least 3 hashgachas, not including the OU") The very pious put the mohel's knife under the infant's mattress and adorn his crib with garlic.

Restrictions on postpartum women: A postpartum women is prevented from appearing in public until she's answered borchu or kedusha.

No sealing up windows: This is an important iyun (Yiddish: "a thing.") If you seal up a window, say because you're remodeling your house, deep misfortune follows. Every LWHJ has a story about some poor fool who closed up a window, and immediately lost his business and came down with a fatal disease.

The lost and found segulah thingie: I forget what it's called, but all you have to do is say the magic words and poof whatever you've lost is restored. Works every time. Except when it doesn't. (but no one talks about that)

Two meals on Erev Yom Kippur: The faithful eat twice on EYK. I find that they tend to sneer at koferdicka know-nothing one-mealniks, but this qustion is debated by experts.

Sholosh shudos shtick: There are a few, but the most common one is this: In the middle of one of the songs, the rebbelah or some other esteemed elder, stands and screams HASHAYM MAYLECH HASHAYM MOOOOLACH HASHAYM YEEMLOYCH L'OYLUM VOOO'ED (Yiddish "Hashem melekh Hashem molakh. Hashem yimlokh l'olam vo'ed.") And everyone stands and answers.

I'm sure there's more. Fellow anthropologists are welcome to share their own observations. Additionally, those of you who have made similar studies of other subsects of Orthodox Judaism are welcome to share your findings. The best will be published here as guest posts.

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