Monday, April 11, 2005

Perfectly Square or Perfectly Warped

New Square - I'm sure you all have heard of this lovely little shtetl 35 miles north of New York City. Actually, New Square is pretty famous. It's wellknown for these three things; the birthplace of countless drop-outs, the holiest village on this planet and home to the talking fish. Did I say holy? Now, I didn't exactly mean holy. Let me refrase it: the disconnected village.

The large welcome board one will spot as his four-wheeler enters this little ghetto boldly reads a ban on swimming costumes, short sleeves and short skirts aka untsniusdike clothing. The streets are separated, men and women. Mister needs to walk on the left side while Miss is pushing the stroller on the right. Most stores have separate hours; men shop on one time of the day, women on the other. Besides the few cleaners and a couple of exceptions, New Square is almost Goyim-free. So there aren't too many yobbo's terrorizing those calm streets at 1 am. A whole town with not a single not-so-kosher advertisement board. Not a single newspaper-kiosk. You want a Playboy? Enjoy your 55 minutes ride till the next little Esso-shop. Playboy? Sorry, I meant a New York Times, my mistake. You all get the picture? It's a really really kosher town, no Hugo Boss posters, no ADSL-connections and no New York Times... Holy with a capital H.

Yet, many of the New Square Yingelech and Meidelech are partying their heads off. The drop-out rate in Skvere Shtetl is unbelievable. Every family has atleast one kid, cousin or nephew who went off. Gone off to discover that forbidden world.

Some kids out there are deprived. A silly example; little kids who hardly get nosh and candy at home. Have you ever seen what happens when they do get hold of a Bissli-bag? They fress it up like they haven't eaten for a month. In the Golden Times our cousins used to come and play by us. I call it Golden - we still had a tv at home. All our schoolfriends and young family always where dying to come and play by us. We where the social hit in town! They came, didn't take off their coates, kept their mouth shut all the time and glued themselves to the screen. They didn't move an inch! Just imagine a sunny Sunday afternoon with a whole bunch of shy kiddies sitting on the hard floor like zombies, staring at that stupid screen... Sad. Very sad.

At the back of my harddisk I remember some story our melamed in cheider told us. King Solomon, if I'm not mistaken, wanted to kill some naughty soldier. The Smart and Mighty King didn't have anything to accuse him with, so he thought of a smart and sly plan. He ordered onto that particular soldier, that he may not pass the ancient walls of Jerusalem. He may not leave Jerusalem once, or else. "Or else what?" protested the courageous soldier. "Or else you will be hanged", came the strickt reply. For one to spend all of his life in Jerusalem is possible. It might not be easy at some moments, but it is nevertheless possible. For one to stay in Jerusalem with the knowledge that he may not leave, is simply impossible. You have guessed it; the soldier left Jerusalem and the King had him hanged.

Why be so tight and strict with kids? Hasn't history proven the opposite? Have we then not learned from our mistakes? Give kids some freedom, give them some space and let them breath. Keep up the pressure, and see what it does. Will your kids be able to stand up to it, or will they buckle and warp under the stress? (last paragraph © 2005 Frummer)


  • I have to be honest-- I'd never heard of New Square until I was about 29 years old. I was in NYC, visiting a friend in Brooklyn, who'd grown up in a Chassidische type environment but was leaning heavily to the other side (we did meet at an Orthodox singles' shabbaton, though), and she made reference to "skverer yidden". "WHAT?" I asked her. "They are called 'square,' as in the lingo we used in grade school to label someone who was geeky?" She explained the term to me, and until my family started buying "New Square" orange juice, I had no reason to use/hear the term again...!
    I guess New Square is a version of "living inside the box"!

    By Blogger torontopearl, at Monday, April 11, 2005 5:00:00 PM  

  • Yingele,
    You forgot to mention the main reason why N S is so (in)famous

    Our former first lady Hillary Clinton went there to campaign for Bill.
    He in turn exonerated a bunch of skvere yungerliet...

    By Blogger Hoezentragerin, at Monday, April 11, 2005 8:53:00 PM  

  • Separate store hours??? you sure?

    By Blogger Shevy, at Monday, April 11, 2005 9:08:00 PM  

  • New Square - Life in a Box. N I C E

    Hoezen, forgot about that Parshe!

    Shevy, Gateshead has it, so kal vechomor New Square. How come you are so surprised?

    By Blogger yingele, at Monday, April 11, 2005 9:15:00 PM  

  • thanks yingele for informing me of this place..maybe ill go live there when i get married!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, April 11, 2005 10:06:00 PM  

  • Anon, you are welcome. But please do remember; Will your kids be able to stand up to it, or will they buckle and warp under the stress?

    By Blogger yingele, at Monday, April 11, 2005 10:58:00 PM  

  • I amused myself when there by stretching out my hand when the girl in the bakery got my change ready; boy did she jump as if I was about to grab some part of her!!!!

    I am sure some of them would be happy taking a 55 hour ride for no reason other then to just get away from there, so 55 min for a playboy ant that bad!!

    By Blogger LostSpirit, at Monday, April 11, 2005 11:39:00 PM  

  • Hold on! I am no fan of New Square and would stay as far away as possible as well.

    BUT while there are dangers to living within the box, there are also dangers to living outside the box, and you have to acknoweldge those too. If you have a TV in your house, might your kids still end up spending hours glued to the TV watching things they ought not watch? Might they be even more attracted to Playboy? Might they be exposed to a lot worse a lot sooner? Might they leave the comfortable fold of modern orthodoxy for the more comfortable world of conservadoxy or non-observance?

    Bottom line is that there's no fool-proof way to ensure that your kids stay on the proper derech, and you have to choose a line of what to restrict and what to allow. You have to draw your own line and then pray that your kids will follow the proper path. Pray really hard.

    By Blogger Eli7, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:28:00 AM  

  • I do agree that there's a great danger in keeping your kids in such a tight shut "box", but how do you explain the high drop-out rate in other communitys that are more open minded? It's a really tough,thin line that one has to walk when raising his kids. and like the rest of the things in life, IMO the middle way is the best.

    By Anonymous itsallgood, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:40:00 AM  

  • woops.. didn't see eli7's comment when I posted (we were probably writing at the same time). She said what I was trying to say in a much better way.
    Sorry about that.

    By Anonymous itsallgood, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 1:43:00 AM  

  • Yingele,

    It sounds like hell on earth to me. Is the community aware of the drop-ous? Are they dealing with it?

    If you could somehow show them that you can be frum, and still involved in the modern world (like so many others), it might have an effect. Maybe not on the wider community, but possibly on the drop-outs. They are still holy Jews that Hashem loves. But there is more than one way to serve Hashem, and the NS lot don't own the monopoly.


    By Blogger The Rabbi's Kid, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 1:59:00 AM  

  • Taken from Life-of-Rubin


    I’m trying to come up for air…
    But every time I try, I’m stopped.
    Like I’m in a room without windows…
    Trying to see the sun. Trying to get some light.
    But every time I look, all I see is night.

    It’s morning! – I know it is…
    The sun is out. I know it must be…
    But when I gaze outside…
    Once again it’s dark…
    Like the sun is hiding from me.

    Smothered by their rules…
    Smothered by their will…
    Smothered by their hopes and dreams…
    Imposed and pushed on me.

    I know they mean good,
    I know they want what’s best,
    But how can I move about?
    There’s just no way to live.

    Smothered by what’s right…
    Smothered by what’s theirs…
    Smothered by the line…
    That separates bad and good.

    I’m sitting here all hurt.
    I’m sitting here confused.
    I’m sitting here trying so hard to breathe….
    In a world that’s dubbed impure.

    I don’t need to know what’s right.
    I don’t need to know what’s wrong.
    I know I can make the right decision.
    I can make it on my own.

    So I ask you, please, oh please,
    Step away, and let me be!
    Allow me to run or walk at my own pace…
    Remove your hand from upon my face!

    I want to see the sun.
    I want to breathe the air.
    I want to live my life.
    To learn on my own.
    What’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s fair

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 11:27:00 AM  

  • It was Shimei Ben Gera (I Kings 2):

    36 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him: Build thee a house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. 37 For on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, know thou for certain that thou shalt surely die; thy blood shall be upon thine own head.' 38 And Shimei said unto the king: 'The saying is good; as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do.' And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days. {S} 39 And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying: 'Behold, thy servants are in Gath.' 40 And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish, to seek his servants; and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath. {S} 41 And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come back. 42 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him: 'Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and forewarned thee, saying: Know for certain, that on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me: The saying is good; I have heard it. 43 Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?' 44 The king said moreover to Shimei: 'Thou knowest all the wickedness which thy heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father; therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head. 45 But king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.' 46 So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he went out, and fell upon him, so that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.

    By Blogger Cosmic X, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 4:08:00 PM  

  • A. Thanks for the Link Mr. Anonymous.

    B. Yingele, when you seclude yourself from the beauty of the world, you end up like they do in New Sqvere.

    By Blogger Chaim, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 5:15:00 PM  

  • Eli7 and Itsallgood; I guess that's why they call it the golden middle way.

    Rabbi Cosmic, thanks a billion! I was looking for that piece of Tanach, but couldn't find it...

    And L-o-R, that's a really nice poem!

    By Blogger yingele, at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 9:39:00 PM  

  • nice article btw they do have dsl there but "nobody" suipposed to know i dont have time to read all the comments maybe i will later.

    bee cool. (good)

    By Blogger b. boy, at Wednesday, April 13, 2005 12:07:00 AM  

  • might it be that the child of a home in skver with a tv would have a different impression than would one of a home actually committed to the local standards?

    i have not seen that strict parenting nor permissive parenting consistently contributes to a child's rebelliousness. i have seen that lack of sincerity does.

    that aside, advocates of "pro-choice" parenting for orthodox families must agree that they mean only within the guidelines of shulchan aruch, or acknowledge that by definition, their tactics are less than orthodox.

    By Blogger Josh, at Wednesday, April 13, 2005 12:21:00 AM  

  • b.boy, I'm always good!

    Josh, I lost you. Would you mind explaining?

    By Blogger yingele, at Wednesday, April 13, 2005 12:06:00 PM  

  • It might be true that no family in New Square is unaffected by the "drop-out" rate. But it's not like the non-New Square population has it any better!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 15, 2005 7:09:00 AM  

  • Anon, I respectfully disagree...

    By Blogger yingele, at Friday, April 15, 2005 11:15:00 AM  

  • yingel, did the more open attitude in your home (trusting you with £2000 cash, the TV) stop you from doing things you shouldn't have?

    By Blogger fluffykneidle, at Friday, April 15, 2005 2:10:00 PM  

  • Fluffy, you are right, it didn't. If Mummy and Daddy would be stricked with me, would I be a good Yingele?

    By Blogger yingele, at Friday, April 15, 2005 3:21:00 PM  

  • For heavens sake! It's their lifestyle,their culture their life! You ddon't have pot, or drinking or anything else a teen might get into. When prime ministers go to Egypt, do they say 'covering your hair is nuts, so I'll go as I please and show them"? No, they respect the culture and the people. Maybe you should to.

    By Anonymous g, at Monday, June 20, 2005 5:05:00 PM  

  • For heavens sake! It's their lifestyle,their culture their life! You ddon't have pot, or drinking or anything else a teen might get into. When prime ministers go to Egypt, do they say 'covering your hair is nuts, so I'll go as I please and show them"? No, they respect the culture and the people. Maybe you should to.

    By Anonymous g, at Monday, June 20, 2005 5:06:00 PM  

  • You ddon't have pot, or drinking or anything else a teen might get into.

    Excuse me? I guess you don;t know any skvere teens, do you?

    By Blogger yingele, at Tuesday, June 21, 2005 3:29:00 PM  

  • this is the sickest article I've ever read. Whoever wrote it is a narrow-minded, shallow idiot - excuse my French. How dare you go and blast an entire town of people whose whole life is for the sake of G-d. I don't live there and don't plan on ever living there, but what do you care what they do? Besides, did you think of the Chilul Hashem you caused by posting this on the web? I don't envy your portion in the world to come!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, November 30, 2005 5:36:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home