web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


So Different Yet Similar

Front-Page-062912

A determined knock on the Reichenberg residence yielded soft pattering sounds coming down the steps from within. The door swung open and there was my co-worker’s wife, Zeldy, with a warm smile and big hug for me.

“So glad you made it!” she exclaimed, moving her 16-month-old from one hip to the other. “Yechezkel’s still at shul, but come sit.”

I followed her up the stairs and into a small two-bedroom apartment. The house was warm and cozy, candles flickering on the table and challah warming atop the stove.

Zeldy brought their wedding album to me on the couch and sat beside me as I thumbed through the pages, pausing on each page to take in every detail. I had a question about everything.

“So why is he wearing white socks and he’s wearing black socks?” I asked pointing first to her father and then to her father-in-law. She didn’t seem to mind.

“Why does he wind his peyos around his ears, but Yechezkel tucks his in tight curls behind them?” “You wore a sheitel after your chuppah?” “So you guys hold hands after the chuppah?”

I had so many questions. And I soon learned: It’s a Vizhnitz custom to wind the peyos around the ears and it’s a rebbishe custom of Belz and Satmar to wear the white socks. For years I had thought that many chassidim tuck their pants into their socks, when in actuality they wear shorter pants tied with a ribbon right below the knee.

Fuzzy hats versus furry hats; tall, short, round, flat. It was all very eye opening to me. How different we are, I mused.

We heard faint singing and in walked my co-worker Yechezkel, Zeldy’s husband. Upon his head sat a wide fur hat, a shtreimel, and he shed one bekeshe in exchange for another shiny, black patterned one with a wide belt.

I couldn’t stop staring, and I knew it was impolite, but he looked so calm and serene, the spirit of Shabbos just washing right over him, taking away all the worries that must come along with a growing family and a hectic work schedule.

Yechezkel made Kiddush. I lifted my gaze to watch him – his eyes were squeezed tightly shut – to listen – the melody filling the small, glowing dining room – and to take it all in. No translations, no analysis. Just be present and experience, I told myself. And it was beautiful.

Soon we were sitting and chatting like old friends. The challah was warm and delicious, the dips unique in flavor, the fish sweet and covered in fish goo. That’s when things started to really strike me as different. Zeldy told me she makes the same dishes every single Shabbos, such as chicken soup with sliced radishes on the side. Radishes!

When I asked her about the custom she said, “It must be a Hungarian thing. It’s been in our families forever.” She added, “Wait till tomorrow – you’ll be eating eggs between the fish and meat courses.” I wanted to know where the egg custom originated and her answer was the same: “It’s just tradition…we’ve been doing that for generations.”

The night wore on without our notice; so busy were we in vetting dissimilarity and likeness between our communities.

“What’s the dating process like in your community?” I was asked.

I explained as best as I could that it’s different for everyone. Most Lubavitch singles from out of town move to Crown Heights in order to live near friends and be more available to date other Lubavitchers.

“Who sets you up?”

Way to put a girl on the spot! But I didn’t mind. I tried my best to paint an accurate picture of the shadchan/single relationship. In my situation, I mused, shadchanim hadn’t suggested many boys for me to date as of yet, but some had facilitated shidduchim suggested by friends of mine.

“Sometimes a shidduch is suggested by a host at whose table I’ve eaten on Shabbos; other times a guy who met me at an event asks me out through a friend.”

This seemed to be a novelty to my hosts.

“I don’t think other neighborhoods have as much of a singles scene as Crown Heights,” Yechezkel remarked. I explained that it’s only in recent years that there are events for singles aged 25 and older in Crown Heights; it’s become more accepted over the years. Times have changed.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “So Different Yet Similar”

  1. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I found all of it very strange. I would not want to live like that.

  2. Leah Urso says:

    Many Lubavitchers also cover their hair with a sheital hair after chupah.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Indepth Stories
Harris-052215

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

Shalev and Rabbi Levinger

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

MK Moshe-Feiglin

20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse

Sprecher-052215

Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes

Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times

Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program

“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.

The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

The gap isn’t between Israeli and American Jews-it’s between American Jews and the rest of the world

More Articles from Yonit Tanenbaum
Front-Page-062912

Music played loudly while the men danced. On the women’s side of the mechitzah, we tried to speak over the sounds. I leaned over the table to hear what my co-worker’s wife was saying.

Young volunteer from Philadelphia presents gift to child at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.

Huge plush teddy bears greet me as soon as I walk through the door. Puzzles line the shelves along with boxes of Lego and dress-up clothes. Every few inches another toy. Another game. Another child’s dream.

An unparalleled musical production featuring 39 Jewish music superstars made its worldwide debut Thursday at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights. “Unity for Justice” is a unique display of solidarity for the family of incarcerated Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, whose sentencing of 27 years in federal prison last year has led to a thunderous outcry by the Jewish community and a number of government officials. The project serves as an innovative campaign for financial support of the Rubashkin Defense Fund, drawing mounting online interest by the hour.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/so-different-yet-similar/2012/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: