Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Who knew about Woodbourne on a summer's Saturday night?

Who knew? About the Hasidic man in a long, black coat and fur hat – who prays to win the lottery? About the young Orthodox Jewish dude – who wears a Grateful Dead yarmulke? About the 'Better You Schlepp It Than Us' sale – where you buy three polka-dot yarmulkes and get one free?
For 10 months, this eastern Sullivan County hamlet is dead, with all 17 shops boarded up. But in the summer, orthodox and Hasidic Jews from as far away as Miami open the stores and hit the streets. They nosh kosher sushi at Mazel Wok. They kibitz by Bubby's variety shop. They check out everything from "Juggling Moishe" children's books to the "Get High" sayings booklet of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach at Hakol B' Sefer Judaica.
And the highlight of their week is Saturday night in Woodbourne.
"It's the place to be," says Avi Hauptman.
These Jews rest all day on the Saturday Sabbath, when you're not allowed to light a match or turn on a light. This is when the wide streets are so dead, all you hear is the chirping of crickets and the hum of a streetlight.
But at 9:30, when Woodbourne Kosher Pizza Ice Cream Falafel and Knishes turns up its ovens, the hamlet transforms itself into a place that's teeming with so much life, it's like a Hollywood set with chutzpah.
The action begins when the young Hasidic man in a fur hat and black silk coat strolls down the street, beneath the yellow Mazel Wok sign for Chinese and Sushi Glatt Kosher Cuisine.
Sam Greenwald is doing something he couldn't do for the 24 hours of Shabbos: buy, light and smoke Marlboro Lights – and play the lottery.
"I pray to God I'll win," he says.
As he explains why he wears his fur hat – "a European Hasidic tradition" – and ankle-length coat – "so we don't take big steps and think we're a big shot" – three young guys in baggy jeans and T-shirts stroll up. One is wearing that Dead yarmulke.
"We're looking for Jewish girls," says the Deadhead named Yakov.
Ten minutes later, Greenwald walks back from the convenience store. He has not won the lottery, but he is holding a cigarette. The Hasidic man asks the Deadhead for a match.
As the dark night fills with young Hasidic Jews with beards, modern Orthodox Jews in SUVs and Jewish families with sleeping babies and dressed-up children, Greenwald and Yakov the Deadhead ignore the crowds around them. Instead, they debate.
Greenwald doesn't believe in Israel. Yakov does.
"I believe the Jewish people shouldn't have a Jewish state until the Messiah comes," says the Hasidic man.
Veterans of this Saturday night scene may tell you that Woodbourne isn't as busy as it used to be, before Wal-Mart in nearby Monticello, before many of the Orthodox had second homes with air conditioning, but by 10:30 p.m., car horns are honking. Drivers jockey for parking spots. A green Subaru Forester with black tape over one of its lights squeals to a stop near a curb. Five college dudes jump out.
And the line at the cash register is seven deep at the 27th Annual "Better You Schlepp It Than Us" close-out sale at Hakol B' Sefer.
A few feet from the counter sit two young women who look like they're straight out of a Greenwich Village bookstore. One of the 19-year-olds has an earring in her nose. They both have long wavy brown hair and wear long skirts and J Crew-style long-sleeve jerseys. They're checking out books like "The Song of the Universe."
"Did you know every animal has an essence?" asks Shoshonna Steinmentz.
Who knew?
The girls are students in Israel – "an amazing, awesome place," says Rebecca Hager. And they've been coming to Sullivan County from Connecticut since they were kids.
For them, the night has just begun. They'll grab a couple of slices and Diet Cokes at Woodbourne Kosher Pizza, etc. They might even check out the new Saturday night Jewish hot spot, Wal-Mart.
"It's cool at 3 in the morning," they say.
When they head out for their slices, Rebecca and Shoshonna run into Yakov the Deadhead and his pals. The girls are carrying $90 worth of books – and something called a Kosher Lamp.
Shoshonna describes how her Kosher Lamp works, so you can use it on the Sabbath.
"You just twist the shade," she says. "You don't turn it on or off."
Rebecca can't stop talking about that spiritual essence of animals.
"We learn about modesty through cats," she says. "They don't even urinate in public."
To which this newcomer to Woodbourne on Saturday night asks:
Who knew?


what about Kiamesha Lanes, the bowling place?


if there was a rebbe of woodburn who would it be?


laiybey the chinese guy


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Chaptzem! Blog