Thursday, July 26, 2007

We'll Never Know

The other night, as we were finishing a delicious pasta dinner, my boyfriend looked up from his plate and said, “Whoa!”

“What, what is it?” I said, grabbing the table and scanning the floor for cockroaches.

“Across the street.” He said, pointing out the window. I turned around and saw no fewer than twenty Hasidic men standing on the sidewalk across from our building, all gazing upwards a fixed point that seemed to be located just over our roof.

I should point out that our neighborhood, along with South Williamsburg, is home to one of the largest Hasidic communities (Chabad-Lubavitch, to be exact) in the United States. We live next door to a synagogue and across the street from a kosher bakery. Seeing roving groups of bearded men in long black coats and black fedoras is nothing new for us. But we are gentiles, so a few of their customs are a bit unfamiliar, and anyway, what in the hell were these guys all looking at? The longer we looked on from our fourth-floor window, the more black hats we saw running out of the synagogue to join the crowd across the street. There were a few young boys in their white shirts and yarmulkes, but no women.

My boyfriend suggested that we go up to the roof, and by the time we did, a fire truck was coming down the street. Things were finally getting exciting.

“Oh look, it's…"

"Driving right past.” No fire, apparently.

“It’s almost like they’re looking at the moon.”

“I don’t think they’re into that kind of thing.”

Moments later, a group of seven or so men took off down Bedford Avenue at a brisk walk and were soon out of sight. The rest milled around for thirty seconds or so before walking off in different directions at a similar pace.

“Man, I kind of wish I’d gone down there and asked.”

“We have got to learn Yiddish.”