Monday, January 12, 2009

chassidim and manners don't mix

I was helping out at this wedding dress gemach today (let's hope it's a good segulah! i'll let you know if it works...). A gemach - to that one person who marked 'unaffiliated' in my poll - is where religies (it's my fave expression - a synonym for frummies - and yes I do somewhat kinda include myself in that category) can rent gowns for cheap. Although this one I was at must have been ultra-posh because it costs at least $500/night to borrow one of their used (and only SLIGHTLY stained) dresses. I really shouldn't talk dirt about a gemach though - they do good work, and I'm pretty sure that I've read somewhere in my 'Chofetz Chaim a day' book that lashon harah applies to both juristic and natural persons. And of course, like I said, there's that whole segulah thing...

Ok, technically I've just lied to you. I wasn't really there to help out the gemach - I was really there looking at dresses with a friend (Miri's sister is engaged!!!!). But I guess I didn't look too busy because one of the religies in charge asked me to give them a hand. I actually love helping out -when someone asks for help I think it means Hashem wants to give me a chance to do a mitzvah (seeee I can get beyond the material).

So as part of my good deed of the day, I was 'in charge' of taking the garbage out. I know - it's good to be a VIP. Despite not fully comprehending what a gemach could possibly have to throw out, I happily carried big black bags full of torn veils and who knows what else from the 'store' to the trash cans outside.

Ok - why am I telling you all this? I should get to the point, shouldn't I?

Well, this physically daunting task required me to go down a flight of stairs and through a heavy door to get to my destination - all while carrying the aforementioned cumbersome garbage bags. There was a group of Chassidish women and girls chattering in the front hall blocking the door. I'm pretty sure they noticed me trying to get through (a jean skirt and long hair in this part of town definitely stand out - and then there are those huge bags). But no one moved until I said in a somewhat loud, but nonetheless very polite voice (I've read Emily Post, remember), "Excuse me, can you please MOVE out of the way" - or other words to that effect. And then when they finally parted like the Red Sea (giving me the Boro Park stare like nobody's business), I had to ask for someone to please hold the door open. I remember a few girls looking reluctantly at one another for a good 30 seconds before someone finally came to my aid.

I know that the title of this post is one super-huge generalization. But this isn't the first time I've come across Chassidish people without manners. (maybe I should include the yeshivish crowd too?) Ok - and yes, I've encountered non-religies, and even goyim (ok not a good word to use, but I've been around chassidim all day) who also lack social graces. So maybe it's not JUST a Chassidish thing. But isn't having good manners part of having good middos? And isn't part of being a 'good Frum Jew' trying to have the best middos possible? And I'm pretty sure that holding the door open for other people is like one of the first things you learn in school about good middos... (maybe after helping an old lady cross the street...)

16 comments:

G6 said...

I know I'm obsessing about a me side point but $500 for a USED dress??!?!?
You can get new and tailored to fit at Augenbraun's for not much more!

Now regarding the manners issue, I've posted a few times myself about this phenomenon.
It's a pity that in some circles, manners are unimportant as long as you learn Torah (and in the rare instances that they are followed, it is only for people who look and dress exactly as they do...)

Jessica said...

I know this wasn't the point of the post, but $500 for a gemach dress?! Come on! Just go to David's Bridal and have one of their $99 dresses built up. I got my gemach dress for $36 (including veil and crown type thing... not sure what it's called, but I liked it and now one of my mom's best friend's grandson's calls me Princess Jessica so it was totally worth it.)

daintysplendor said...

ooh looks like chassidim deserve to pay $$500 a night for a stained dress... cause the way the acted is unacceptable for any HUMAN BEING. Honestly, I have never met a goy as ill-mannered as the girls you describe here.

shocked said...

I love ur posts but this one is a horrid stereotype. These chaseedish people you speak are huge tseddaka givers, and devote so much time to chesed- it's insane - e.g- Satmar Bikur Cholim, Zichron Shlome Refuah Fund, Bonei Olam etc- so many of these women have families and lives and still find time to bake, cook , anddrive patients and volunteer in a kind mannered way...so you should rethink your title

Tommy said...

shocked - i have to agree with MM on this one. theres no denying that these people give tzedakah - but a lot lack very basic social manners...

NotaGeek! said...

In the chassdishe world that's the way it works or you're like them or you're an absoloute nothing... You're a sub human and if you're non religious or not Jewish I gets a lot worse than that.
Get used to it MM if you plan on continuing working it that neighborhood.

NotaGeek! said...

And thanks MM for bring this subject to the forefront it sorely needs to be discussed....

The Babysitter said...

I wish I could have been there to hold open the door for you. I love helping people, it gives me such enjoyment.

And I really like what you wrote about helping people, and Hashem putting you there for a reason.

I have noticed Chassidish people tend to stick to themselves. I think they take the no talking with strangers, to the extreme.

Actually today I was on the city bus and the bus was about to leave a stop, when this touro girl came knocking on the door for the bus to open its doors again, I thought she wanted to come on, but then the doors opened and a chassidish woman with a baby came on. The girl had gotten the bus driver to open up for a different person. I was so impressed by this!

Miri said...

MM-youre post made me laugh till I couldnt breathe. So this is where you kept disappering to? You left me to fend for myself as I shlepped 500 pound wedding dresses to and from a finnicky bridezilla for a sis? i dont know who got the brunt of the deal! (just kidding, sis, Love you!)

Anonymous said...

First time here, I'm with Babysitter on this one, i wish i could of hold the door for you or help you with these begs for that matter,
and i saying this as a chusid, i believe there are a lot of chasidim that lack manners, but so are many other crowds.

you can't judge people for what ever other people do, the same reason why you understand that you shouldn't be labeled someone without manners because you're Jewish

Maidel said...

ok listen up folks - I always try my best not to generalize!

however - that doesn't mean that we can't look at the things in our communities that could be worked on - in this case - middos!

Lost And Not Yet Found said...

This post is sadly enough too true. Though I think they didn't help you so quickly because you were the 'help' (for the amount of time you were helping out). Religious people tend to have an aversion to help... that's what I've got from the many incidents I've seen...

Moshe said...

Yep, include yeshivish.

I just love it when I'm outside with a carriage and there's a bunch of women with kids blocking the sidewalk and sometimes they even have ride on toys and bikes next to them too. This is why I have a tank for a carriage and if they don't get out of the way fast enough I just mow them down. Same in a store.

These people disgust me. Because of co-worker's recommendation I watched a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Stopped watching because I found the guy revolting, the episode with the golf ball, the shoes at dinner, etc.
I like helping people and it's not like it's costing you anything to open a door.

Attitude toward workers, definitely. I used to install alarms, surveillance, intercoms, etc. My boss' intercom wasn't working so who put up a paper telling people to knock loudly. We were in front of his door fixing the intercom. His neighbor was sitting shiva. A guy coming to his neighbor, looking for the right door, comes over and pushes my boss aside to look at the paper. Didn't say a word, just pushed him out of the way. Black suit, black hat and no manners.

Maidel said...

i feel for ya Moshe - and your baby!
i dont think its ONLY a chassidish/litvish/frummie thing tho...
but I'm just saying maybe we should expect more of our people! any way we can get them to be self-aware?

i dont know what larry david has to do with anything - LOVE his show though!

Moshe said...

I hate the character. In the 3 episodes that I watched he was the embodiment of selfishness.

Maidel said...

umm.... that's kinda the point of the show...