We set off late Saturday morning and planned to take a slightly scenic route through Brooklyn before crossing to Manhattan and going along the western side, up and off the island. Little did we know just how scenic our Brooklyn route would be…
Even if we had tried we could never again go through the Williamsberg/Crown Heights suburbs of Brooklyn at a more perfect time – We were driving through JUST as men and women of the Satmar movement of Hasidic Judaism were leaving their Synagogue. And my oh my they are a sight to behold – particularly if your not expecting it and like me, were previously unaware of their existence.
The Hasidim, or “pious ones” in Hebrew, belong to a special movement within Orthodox Judaism. Soon after its founding in the mid-eighteenth century by Jewish mystics, Hasidism rapidly gained popularity in all strata of society, especially among the less educated common people, who were drawn to its charismatic leaders and the emotional and spiritual appeal of their message, which stressed joy, faith, and ecstatic prayer, accompanied by song and dance. The movement survived a century of slow decline and then near-total destruction in the Holocaust. After World War II, Hasidism was transplanted by immigrants to America, Israel, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. In these most modern of places, especially in New York, it is now thriving as an evolving creative minority that preserves the language–Yiddish–and many of the religious traditions of pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewry. The Hasidic ideal is to live a hallowed life, in which even the most mundane action is sanctified.
The Hasidic way of life is visually and musically arresting, with rich textures, unusual customs, and strong traditions of music and dance. Hasidic tales, intriguing and memorable doorways into a complex world of Hasidic thought, religious themes, and humor, are fruits of a long and continuing oral tradition.
It might/does sound strange but from the car i almost felt like we were on a safari viewing rare creatures in an unknown land. I would cry out – theres some – theres some over there oh look! A whole family!
along the west side of Manhattan with my informative hosts pointing out key locations and filling me with interesting facts left right and centre! Then off the island, through the bronx and another 1 1/2 of driving along the highway until we headed off along a dirt path through beautiful green forrests
and came to the charming get-away house in the area of Patterson, belonging to good friends of my hosts for a wonderful afternoon BBQ!
The beautiful property had a pool, a barn, a pond
That we later devoured with homemade mint sauce
and I had a great time,
as well the cleanest, best run fun park i’ve ever seen – Playland. Playland has the distinction of being America’s first totally planned amusement park and prototype for today’s successful theme parks. Dedicated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Playland has provided family fun since 1928.