A Hasidic Jew Weighs In On Feeling Vulnerable With Increasing Attacks

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With attacks on Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn up 50% in 2019 from 2018 and the recent shooting in Jersey City, observant Jews, and Hasidim in particular, are feeling very vulnerable in the New York City area. We asked a member of Project Makom to explain how she is feeling in this climate.

Here’s what she said:

A week ago five people were killed in an anti-semitic hate crime. To make matters worse, I have read several comments from people (who had bad experiences in the Hasidic community) and non-Jews who think that Hasidim deserved it and they were happy about it.

I understand people are hurting, and I am too (I also was abused in this community), but how can you be happy that a family lost a parent? How can you be happy that parents lost a son? Those people did no harm to you!

Since I grew up Hasidic, I can give some firsthand insight: NOT ALL RELIGIOUS/HASIDIC people are bad, in fact there are some amazing, exceptionally generous people in the community who help others with no favors expected in return!

Since the last couple of incidents, I’m scared to walk on the streets when it’s dark. I always call up a friend and I keep them posted every two minutes as to where I am. I constantly look over my shoulder and suspect every passing person as a potential attacker and some people wonder why. Why are you always looking over your shoulder? What are you so scared of?

Since I am visibly dressed as an ultra-orthodox Jew, apparently, I am a target. I have had people yell “dirty jew” at me on the street. I have had people throw bottles at me and scream, “Heil Hitler.” That’s why I am scared! I usually try to put up a brave face, because when they see that I’m scared the anti-semites enjoy it even more.

For the anti-semites in the world, maybe start talking with those people you want to curse out and see how much good they did in their lives. See how they have a personality and feelings too. Yes, they may look different and have a more old-fashioned life style, but most of them don’t bite! Yes, those few bad apples have done some horrible things, which everyone knows about. But if someone in your community commits a crime, you don’t want to be judged by that either.

Finally, for all the kindhearted people that showed your support after the attack, we really appreciate it! There is nothing like going through a tragedy like this and knowing people out there care. It heals our wounds.


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  • Avatar bj says on December 20, 2019

    As a fellow obviously Orthodox woman… I couldn’t agree more.
    I have never been more terrified to walk the streets of the city I grew up in.

    Reply
  • Avatar Shimon Ben Natan says on December 20, 2019

    come home!

    Reply
  • Avatar Seymour Friedman says on December 21, 2019

    When you say you read comments (who had bad experiences in the Hasidic community) you should clarify is was one person with many comments

    Reply
    • Avatar Allison Josephs says on December 21, 2019

      Thanks for your comment. We asked the author. She said it was several people who grew up hasidic as well as non-Jews. We made the edit.

      Reply
      • Avatar Seymour Friedman says on December 22, 2019

        If it was the discussion on Facebook I very familiar with that thread.
        It was mainly one person and there was a great deal of pushback from other x chussids.

        Besides one or maybe two all were sad and shocked and angry at the killings.

        Most even said many frum people treated them very nice and offended tremendous help to them.

        One should not paint a group of people based on one person’s comment.

        That is simply not fair

        Reply
        • Avatar Allison Josephs says on December 22, 2019

          Thanks for your comment, Seymour. I asked the woman who wrote this and she said she heard multiple people say this – not just the thread you’re referring to. She said she also read comments by non-Jews. We made the edit to indicate it’s not an entire community but rather a few commenters online. I didn’t read her essay as trying to paint an entire community a certain way, but then we made edits to clarify that it point. I’m sorry if this felt like an attack. That was not our intention of publishing it. We we’re just giving her space to describe how she is feeling.

          Reply

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