[Marxism] Hasidic dirty-dancing

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 17 08:10:40 MDT 2007

(Interesting article from my home town newspaper in upstate NY. It turns 
out that Hasidic youth enjoy the same things as other youths, including 
the Pennsylvania Amish. When they are free from parental control, they 
like to dance, get blitzed on booze and pot, and--as the article 
quaintly puts it--make out. That's a term I haven't heard since the 
1950's. "Making out" is a kind of foreplay that teenagers indulge in, 
but without having intercourse. This is the reason that super-orthodox 
religions--typically, the sky-god religions of Christianity, Islam and 
Judaism--have cult-like aspects. If you allow the youngsters the 
slightest bit of freedom, they want more.)

Times Herald-Record
August 17, 2007

Secular temptations lure Orthodox youth
Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis and Shaul Vaknin, owner of Hi-Cue Billiards. 
The pool hall became a hangout for Orthodox Jewish youth.
By Adam Bosch

Monticello — The Orthodox Jewish community was jolted into action when 
some of its elders and rabbis walked into a party off Broadway recently 
where young Orthodox men and women were drinking booze, doing drugs and 
mingling romantically.

The late-night gathering July 28 and 29 highlights a 10-year trend in 
which young Orthodox Jews, in their teens and early 20s, have begun 
dabbling in drugs, many in the Jewish community said. Leaving tighter 
supervision in Brooklyn and elsewhere, the youngsters find relative 
freedom — and trouble — while spending summer in the Catskills.

That night's get-together in Monticello was also worrisome to elders of 
this religious community because their children were dressed casually, 
drinking to the point of intoxication, and kissing — all of which 
violate their religious laws.

About 200 Orthodox youngsters were hanging out in parking lots around 
Hi-Cue Billiards on East Broadway. The popular gathering spot for 
religious summer residents includes a darkened lounge that turns into a 
disco-style dance club by night. This week, the village shut down the 
business, citing fire code violations.

Joseph Halpert, a 52-year-old Orthodox man who stays in Kiamesha Lake 
during the summer, was the first adult to arrive around 12:45 a.m. A 
friend had telephoned to say a group of rabbis and parents were going to 
intervene and offer help. Halpert watched quietly as youngsters in the 
parking lots around the pool hall cut loose. He said the kids included 
Hasidim and modern Orthodox.

"Inside the pool hall and spilling out into the street were hundreds of 
frum (religious) boys and girls hanging out, cavorting, drinking, and 
snorting drugs," Halpert wrote in a letter that has become the hottest 
topic on Orthodox Jewish Web sites and blogs.

In a phone interview, Halpert said, "I could clearly see that there was 
drug paraphernalia changing hands. I've seen a lot of things in my 
community, but I've never seen anything like this."

Most say the drug use was limited to marijuana.

Boys and girls were making out; girls had taken off long, traditional 
skirts to reveal shorter ones and most had been drinking alcohol, 
eyewitnesses said.

"This sort of stuff is unheard of in our society until recently," said 
Judah Eckstein, founder of the Jewish news Web site Yeshiva World. "It's 
against Jewish law."

A shoving match broke out between some Jewish elders and bouncers when 
the elders tried to enter the pool hall's dance club. Monticello police 
came to the scene around 1:30 a.m., but most of the kids had already 
been taken away, Halpert said. Police did not charge or arrest anyone. 
Police Chief Doug Solomon said no evidence of drinking or drug use was 

"It's possible that it's happening, but there was no evidence found to 
support that kind of activity," he said.

Jewish community leaders had an emergency meeting with Village of 
Monticello officials the following week because they were unsure as to 
how to handle the situation.

During the past two years, Hi-Cue Billiards had become a popular hangout 
spot for young, Jewish summer residents in Sullivan County. Shaul 
Vaknin, owner of the pool hall, is Israeli and speaks Hebrew.

"The kids started to feel comfortable here," he said.

It began with only boys hanging out and playing pool. Then came drinking 
in the backroom club and parking lots. Girls started showing up, too. 
The girls always came in long skirts, but that changed this year when 
girls began wearing "flashy clothes," as Vaknin put it.

"One thing led to another and the girls were drinking and dancing with 
the boys," Vaknin said, noting that he consistently turned away people 
trying to get into the club who were already intoxicated. Vaknin also 
said his bouncers found people smoking marijuana in the parking lots.

Action from the Orthodox community was swift after the sinful sights of 
July 28. Vaknin and Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis organized a Saturday-night 
concert featuring a popular Jewish band for the boys at Hi-Cue 
Billiards. Bowling alleys in Liberty and Kiamesha were rented to keep 
the girls busy.

The Orthodox community was mostly immune to the drug persuasions that 
captured America in the '60s and '70s.

But during the past 10 years, rabbis said, drugs have started to 
penetrate their society. Look no farther than August in Sullivan County 
for proof, where police arrested five Orthodox boys in South Fallsburg 
for possession of marijuana, and another in the Town of Thompson for 
possession of marijuana and nine Ecstasy pills.

"Drug use is still far, far less than the community at large," said 
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who runs a program for troubled youth called 
Project Yes. "But it's an issue and these things don't get better unless 
you address them."

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