Tag Archives: Hasidic Jews

Flashback Friday: One of Us (2017)

Humans were not meant to be alone. We need other people, we need to be loved and wanted. But sometimes, that need conflicts with the internal knowledge that we are different.

The 2017 Netflix documentary, One of Us, follows three former NYC-based Hasidic Jews as they break away from their previous lives. To say that this process is difficult is an understatement. It’s more than the change in physical appearance. The emotional journey from where they started to where they ended is challenging, to say the least. It requires the knowledge that they may lose everyone they love in the process.

Going through this process is akin to coming out of the closet as an LGBTQ person. The push-pull of being true to yourself while wanting to be accepted is a psychological see-saw that no one should go through. But we live in a world that says that the only way we will be loved is if we conform to what is “normal”.

Though the subjects of this film are Jewish, one does not need to be of the same faith to try to understand what these people are going through. I suspect that there are many people, of all faiths, who were raised one way, but come to realize that that is not how they want to live.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

One of Us is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Judaism, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, New York City

Bill de Blasio, the Anti Semite?

I think it is fair to say that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence these days would say that Covid-19 has forced all of us to adjust how we live. I think that it is also fair to say that given the current crisis, it would behoove those in the halls of power to work together.

Last night was the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who according to press reports, died from complications from Covid-19. As is the custom in Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, the funeral was public with thousands of mourners crowding the streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In normal times, this would be a non-news issue for all but the local community. But we are not living in normal times.

According to an article in Gothamist, the Police department knew about this before hand. But yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the entire Jewish community of New York City of breaking the social distancing rules.

The problem that I have with his accusation is that instead of specifically pointing the finger at those in attendance, he blamed every Jew in New York City. I am a Jew and I live in New York City. Was I at this funeral? No. He should be putting the blame on those who were there, not on all practitioners of that particular religious identity. He should have also spoken to his police officials before making this kind of accusations.

Last week was Yom Hashoah. Given our current political climate, the recent climactic (and bloody) events in Jewish history and the extreme rise in antisemitism, I would think twice before making such a comment.

Which is why I did not vote for this man and will be more than happy to see him out of office when his term ends.

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Filed under History, National News, New York City, Politics

Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman Book Review

No matter how old we are, we still want our parent’s love and affection. But what happens we have to make a choice between our parent’s love and our authentic selves?

The new book, Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman, is a memoir written by Abby Chava Stein. Abby was born a boy, the eldest son of a large Hasidic Jewish family in New York City. A direct descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the expectations on her shoulders as a child were clear. She would follow in the personal and professional path of those who came before her.

But something inside of her said that she was different. In her 20’s, after marrying and having a child, Abby knew that it was time to be herself. Even if that meant being estranged from the family and the community that she grew up in.

I loved this book because the author lays it all on the page. It is an honest, heartfelt, sometimes painful memoir of a time in her life when she was living as two different people. Though Ms. Stein comes from a specific community with a specific faith, her story is universal. There are many of us in this world who live two lives. We know at some point, we must come out of the closet, in whatever form that takes.

If she can do it, so can the rest of us.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City