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What’s the deal with frummies and their gaudy furniture?

I had no idea what chargers were until it came down to figuring out what we wanted to put on our wedding registry. Apparently they are plates that you don’t use, except to put under the large dinner plates when setting a table, I put my foot down “they sounded super dumb and gaudy to me” I’m a minimalist and didn’t want my shabbos table (at the moment a couch stool) cluttered up with things that had no practical value. Apparently chargers are commonplace in the average frum New York household. I have found over the years that east coast frummies think that fancy equates some sort of French Renascence situation in their household complete with heavy drapes, bulging and very heavy wood furniture and ornate doors, columns and cherry book cases.

Somewhere along the line frummies started getting into the ridiculous McMansion craze, I called them Monsey Houses because Monsey seemed to be replete with these crazy looking ranch homes that had columns, chrome fences and marble driveways. It seemed that frummies had no idea what tasteful decorations were and felt they needed to have things that showed how douchy they could be.

By the way, many Sephardic folks are even worse then us ashkis – go to Queens and check out some of the crazy Bucharian homes and to Ocean Parkway to see the Syrian monstrosities. It’s worth the trip and I’m not even talking about the insides of the homes.

If you really want to showcase your frummy wealth you need to get the heaviest dining room table possible complete with very heavy chairs. You need red and gold drapes, huge bulging silver licht sets and lots of cases showing off your insane silver collection. It also helps to have some ridiculous seforim that no one would ever use, given to you for being a benefactor for some yeshiva.

It’s not just the rich that feel the need to decorate their homes with what I could describe best as exactly what Howard Roark would rant about in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. We recently received some of the most mafioso pillow cases I’ve ever seen from an organization to help out newlyweds who meet the income requirements. Gaudy is an understatement, the mobster pillowcases are funny. Thank God we didn’t get any crazy Judaica that many folks like to give, more is not necessarily better although it seems that east coast frummies think so.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • A. Nuran

    Conspicuous consumption is a very human thing. Your home and the junk in it are a way of impressing the other apes in the troop.

  • Yet another reason I love living in Israel.
    Our furniture is a mix of hand-me-downs and IKEA and that suits me just fine. I will admit, though, that after 5 years of marriage, I did want a complete set of meat silverware – complete enough that if we had 6 people over for Friday night dinner, we didn’t have to use plastic forks for the gefilte fish… 🙂

  • We have chargers. They are used when one of us wants to eat milchig and the rest of us don’t (or vice versa). Slap on a charger and don’t worry about treifing up the tablecloth.
    My idea of a nice house–airy organza drapes (or else something in a nice solid or gingham), small floral prints in a pastel on cream, eyelet trim, overstuffed furniture that begs you to flop down and make yourself comfortable, bookshelves crowded with paperbacks, and an eclectic mix of furniture (none of the furniture in my dining room–not even the table and the chairs–came from the same supplier). Artwork and embroidery. Objets d’art from the antique store and the flea market. A battered piano from Craigslist. (As long as the sound is still good). Table lamps. Brass candlesticks.
    Besides, those overdone palaces are completely impractical if you want a large family. Unless you keep your kids locked in the garage.

  • yossi

    SO TRUE! As an Architect working in the frum community I found this post particularly humorous…and accurate. I laugh at their sense of style and what people think is nice or current. However, frummies are nowhere near as bad as black style with there gold..…everything.

  • tesyaa

    I always thought the excuse for the fancy furniture (and fancy $80 Italian leather shoes for toddlers) is that Jews, specifically frum Jews, are sons and daughters of the king… and do the king’s kids shop at wear Payless and shop on Craigslist? I don’t think so!

    The other excuse is that quality stuff lasts longer. Sort of true, sort of not true. A $5,000 dining room set will last longer than a $500 set, but usually not 10 times longer.

  • Helena

    Renaissance …

  • heshy rocks!

    I checked thru your wedding registry and was real disapointed you didn’t have one with the frumsextoys.com website that you wrote about not so long ago. Not that I’d expect you to hang anything from there in your breakfront which I’m sure you don’t have yet.

    Lotsa fun
    Lotsa mazal!

    • Rabbi Talli Bahn

      remember, we have up to a year to get them a gift.
      the iRabbit, I mean iRabbi is my fav toy to help me rise to the seventh level of shomaim.

      • CM in CH

        Could we be slightly less gross? My mother reads this lol

  • I have never seen any of this in Silver Spring, MD, so I think it is an NYC thing, not an East Coast thing.

  • com

    SNL did a skit on this years ago, advertising “mahbuhl cahluhms” (marble columns) to class up your bedroom, bathroom, and even your kitchen. They didn’t overtly refer to boro park, but we knew.

  • Holmes

    Keep the first paragraph of this post in mind the next time you desire to write a restaurant review. About what else are you so clueless? Having separate red and white wine glasses? LOL!

    • CM in CH

      They make different glasses for each. You do know this I assume?

  • ellis

    What bothers me about most Kollel homes (or shall I respectfully say apartments and basements) is the strong emphasis on a dining room table. The main focus of the entire home is the dining room table, which comprises of small the kitchen, living room, and dining area. So big that one one needs to use the bathroom the entire table must be pushed 3 foot forward. The husband doesn’t need a computer black leather chair with wheels while everyone else, including the pregnant wife sits on little folding chairs. Just an interesting NY custom for an out-of-town guy like myself.

  • shoshana

    Yes, yes, YES! You are spot on this one. I come from Europe and the BP sense of style seems to me so preposterous. Each house looks almost exactly the same. I don’t know how they don’t get lost. The style is pompous, pretentious and stiff like taken straight from some Victorian bourgeois home. And unfortunately it brings some unpleasant connotations. They may be patently false but is it possible that one’s style is so disconnected from one’s personality? This style reflects a nature who cares more what others think than what is right, who hides a lot under the heavy carpet and builds an image of the riches that has no ground in the reality. It would be so sad if it was really true…

  • Allen Roth

    The style you describe (“Flatbush Provincial”) is not a signifier of religion, but rather a sign of social class (or lack thereof). Most Jews in this group are nouveau riche, with all the good and bad that implies. I would also like to say that, although I find your site very entertaining, I bristle every time I read a nasty comment about another group of people, racial, ethnic, religious, etc. There are many Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic, etc. who have much better taste, manners, and ethics than those to whom some of your readers refer. Many, in fact, in whose homes your readers would be quite intimidated by the quality of their way of life, and probably nervous at possibly exposing the lower social status of their upbringing. I would hope that some of your readers reconsider their ideas regarding this issue, and perhaps modify their habits.

  • Allen Roth

    The style you describe (“Flatbush Provincial”) is not a signifier of religion, but rather a sign of social class (or lack thereof). Most Jews in this group are nouveau riche, with all the good and bad that implies. I would also like to say that, although I find your site very entertaining, I bristle every time I read a nasty comment about another group of people, racial, ethnic, religious, etc. There are many Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic, etc. who have much better taste, manners, and ethics than those to whom some of your readers refer. Many, in fact, in whose homes your readers would be quite intimidated by the quality of their way of life, and probably nervous at possibly exposing the lower social status of their upbringing. I would hope that some of your readers reconsider their ideas regarding this issue, and perhaps modify their habits.
    My father was a furniture manufacturer, and he dealt mostly with this social class of consumer. I recall him once saying to a Lamp salesman, “I can’t carry these lamps. With my customers, if it doesn’t have a small Jesus, hanging from every switch, it won’t move (sell).” But I never made the inference that all members of that group were like that. How would you feel if, while surfing the Web, you came upon an Episcopalian website, where a Black college student wrote, “You should have seen the Jews at my parents’ Winter party. I was invited to a friend’s home for a weekend, and you would not believe how it was furnished; a Persian carpet on a polished marble floor….” You wouldn’t feel so good, even if that is indeed how that home was furnished.

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