Sunday, February 15, 2009

On the Jewish Street Patrol 

The disheveled man looks momentarily confused. He's wearing a puffy red coat that looks as if it was salvaged from the city dump. "Are you guys cops?" he asks.

He's been set upon by four Hasidic Jews in the center aisle of House and Home Hardware on Flushing Avenue, a commercial strip that runs through the Hasidic section of Williamsburg in Brooklyn – a neighborhood uncanny for its resemblance to a 19th-century shtetl.

The man's presence is as misplaced as a Hell's Angel in Amish country. But it's not just the grimy clothes that make him unwelcome: His pants are inexplicably torn open, exposing his boxer shorts to the frightened Hasidic patrons he's been begging for money.

With bushy beards and black yarmulkes, the four Jews entreating the vagabond do so with an air of authority. Their intimidating posture, coupled with the two-way radios that hang from their belts, elicits the man's question again: "Are you guys cops?"

"Just get out of here," he's told, with an expletive thrown in to convey gravity. The man leaves and order is returned to the shop.

The four enforcers may not be members of the New York Police Department, but to the hardware store manager, if they're not exactly the law, they're certainly keepers of the peace. They're members of a volunteer civilian patrol called Shomrim (Hebrew for "watchers"), which, in addition to Williamsburg, has independently run chapters in Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Borough Park – all Brooklyn enclaves densely populated by religious Jews.


the same thing happened to me cause i was wearing a bent down hat.


there are so many farshtunken yidden walking around with their gatkes hanging out as well. are they afraid of them too?


What if it was a young woman in a micro mini-skirt, or someone wearing a bicycle helmet (with presumably, a treif bicycle parked outside)?

Cops at least enforce (or are supposed to enforce) a neutral law?

What law do these folks enforce?


Why couldn't they at least give him a pair of untorn pants before throwing him out in the cold?


wwre their pants falling down from the weight of the walkies tlakies?


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