web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



The World’s Greatest Outdoor Museum

Most areas of the city have a mix of peoples living in them who have daily contact with one another and who share the space. It just makes sense to have good relations with neighbors.

If one wants to see ethnic contact, social progress, and true turf sharing in New York City, the experience of a Hebrew charter school in Brooklyn is a perfect case in point.

If one wants to see ethnic contact, social progress, and true turf sharing in New York City, the experience of a Hebrew charter school in Brooklyn is a perfect case in point.

One Jewish respondent spoke of playing ball together with Chinese neighbors and going over to visit each other. It appears as though there’s very little conflict between the two communities. Because the Jews are more Americanized, one suspects they will have greater rapport with the artsy and yuppie types who have been moving there recently. In fact, some of their own children may be, and indeed are, sometimes in the same communities. Nonetheless, there are a few second-generation Chinese who have become part of the art scene, though this is probably less the case with the Chinese than among the Jews.

* * * * *



If one wants to see ethnic contact, social progress, and true turf sharing in New York City, the experience of a Hebrew charter school in Brooklyn is a perfect case in point. The Hebrew Language Academy, housed in a yeshiva, has children attending from many nationalities. The school’s program emphasizes Israeli culture and Hebrew, but the students are also taught about Christmas and Ramadan. The student body is one-third black, with a sprinkling of Hispanics. With regard to religion, it is made up of Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Aalim and Aalima, twins who are students at the school, delight in speaking Hebrew with each other. It’s sort of like their secret code, one their father does not comprehend. Aalim is happy to sing his favorite song in Hebrew: “My land of Israel is beautiful and blossoming. / Who built it and who cultivated it? / All of us together! / I built a house in the land of Israel. / So now I have a land and I have a house in the land of Israel!”

What’s remarkable is that Aalim and Aalima are Muslims. And the school they attend not only teaches songs about Israel, but it also displays the Israeli flag throughout the building and celebrates Israel Independence Day as part of its cultural program. That’s a lot more than your usual musical and culinary outreach programs with groups that have ethnic or racial tensions.

* * * * *

I’m walking up East 167th Street around Grant Avenue in the South Bronx on a Friday afternoon in late May 2010 when suddenly I see a chassidic-looking man leaving a school building. Of medium height, he is wearing a large black skullcap and has a pretty substantial, graying beard. And his tzitzis are hanging out on each side of the shirt at hip level.

I catch up to him and quite spontaneously ask, “What’s a religious Jew like you doing here?” “Me? I work at the school up the block, Middle School 22.”

“What do you do there?” I ask.

“I’m a dean,” he tells me. “As a matter of fact, I’m the dean of discipline.”

“Really,” I say, thinking to myself that he doesn’t look too big or tough, and as an Orthodox Jew, in this rough part of town, in a middle school, the kids must run all over him. How can he understand their life and culture, so different from his own?

“How are you able to control them?” I ask.

It turns out I’m wrong on most counts.

“Why not?” he answers, smiling. “I treat them like human beings. I’ve never had any trouble.” “Do they ever say anything about how you look?”

“Not really.” He gives a quick laugh. “Given the way people dress around here – I mean, the African Muslims with their skullcaps, beards, and robes – I actually fit in pretty well. I’m just another weird dresser. Up here anything goes. In fact, very often they don’t even realize I’m Jewish.”

“But what about the parents, particularly those who are Muslim?” I persist.

“I’ve never had a problem with them. They’re very respectful. They just want their kids to get a good education. The problems for the kids are often their difficult home situations, but personally I get along great with them. I deal with behavior, not religion. I love the kids and I love watching how they progress. I never take lunch, because I’m so busy resolving problems and I’m here from eight to five.

“The only issue for me is the traveling. I have to come here all the way from Crown Heights by subway.”

About the Author: William B. Helmreich is professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and City College of New York. His many books include “The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry,” “Against All Odds: Holocaust Survivors and the Successful Lives They Made in America,” and “What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them.”


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.

No Responses to “The World’s Greatest Outdoor Museum”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A would-be preacher delivers his message of hate from the Muslim"holy site" on the Temple Mount.
Al Aqsa Mosque ‘Stand-Up’ Preacher Calls for Annihilation of the United States
Latest Indepth Stories
Greiff-112814-Levaya

My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem

The Jew’s crime is his presence.

Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible

Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

More Articles from William B. Helmreich
If one wants to see ethnic contact, social progress, and true turf sharing in New York City, the experience of a Hebrew charter school in Brooklyn is a perfect case in point.

Most areas of the city have a mix of peoples living in them who have daily contact with one another and who share the space. It just makes sense to have good relations with neighbors.

William B. Helmreich

In 1964 the eminent sociologist Marshall Sklare declared Orthodoxy to be irrelevant. His view was that Conservative Judaism was the wave of the future in America.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-worlds-greatest-outdoor-museum/2013/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: