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21 ways not to be a Harry

A Harry is one of those terms you hear in the yeshiva world that you don’t hear anywhere else. For someone to even call someone else a Harry would automatically relegate them to some distant yeshiva past because modernishe folks simply don’t know the term exists. A Harry is basically someone who’s obviously modern orthodox and trying to be a black a hatter. You may call them an infiltrator, faker or flaming BT because of those peeps fit the bill. In yeshivish vernacular it used to be used solely to show how out of place BT’s were. For instance if I put on black velvet I would look like a total Harry, no matter what I wear I just don’t have what it takes to be a black hatter, my brother says I look like a flaming BT when I have black velvet on. A fan of mine named Satchel Boyd (no joke) wrote the following list.
1. Wear your hat a bit high up on your head, so your bangs are showing, but not too much.
2. Wear your tzitzis out, but grouped at the sides, for less wind resistance when walking fast to minyan.
3. Speak only yeshivish at shul.
4. Chassidish pronunciations should help, like saying the cholam as an “oy.”
5. Only white shirt on Shabbos, maybe a tie maybe not.
6. Black velvet yarmulke only, not knit with a black hat. That’s a total Harry thing to do.
7. Complain about Israel and those modernishe people, Harry’s are modern so they wouldn’t complain like that.
8. Don’t use silverware or napkins, those are assur for chukas hagoyim. Only Harry’s use those because they don’t learn all the time and are ignorant.
9. Maybe faint cholent or kugel stains on your pants. Harry’s are clean so they don’t have those.
10. If you have guests for Shabbos, have only Hebrew seforim out.
11. Say you went to the Internet Asifa, everyone will admire you for that but modernishe people.
12. Brag about the Chumros you hold by. Harry’s don’t have Chumros.
13. Forget about table manners during your infiltration.
14. Shove at Kiddush.
15. Make your kids (when born) wear black velvet yarmulkes everywhere until infiltration is done.
16. Instead of black velvet, you could always wear those Lubavitcher ones that are polyester or whatever it is now.
17. Wear super long, thick, wool tzitzis but still grouped at the side. I’ve seen Harries, and they wear cotton tucked in. Apikorsim.
18. Complain about Chabad no matter what, in the same breath as complaining about Israel.
19. Praise Aish HaTorah for the great work they’ve done with their SEED.
20. Don’t talk about Frum Satire at the table anywhere.
21. Maybe just stop reading Frum Satire for the duration of infiltration.

Find out more about Harry’s on 4torah.com

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Chaviva August 19, 2012, 10:11 PM

    Men have bangs?

    • Anon August 24, 2012, 3:52 PM


  • Schwartzie August 19, 2012, 11:11 PM

    Tzitzis under the belt.

  • Anonymous August 19, 2012, 11:23 PM

    Call bangs a “chup”

  • nochnoch August 19, 2012, 11:36 PM

    never heard of harry…we have chooks

  • i have spent years trying to get rid of the Oy August 20, 2012, 1:44 AM

    I have spent years trying to get rid of the Oy and replace it with Oh for the Cholem.
    But outside of that i must admit that the black hat version with all its failings seems to at least have the advantage of in theory considering the Talmud to be authoritative in terms of world view. This i consider an advantage to the Modern Orthodox who consider the Talmud authoritative in terms of halacha but whose world view is based on Kierkegaard and the existentialists like Rav Soloveitchik.
    The problem with existentialism seems to be to be that it is logically incoherent. While this would not be a problem for Kierkegaard, it would a problem for someone like Rav Soloveitchik who at least seems to be claiming to be rational. Compared to incoherence, who could not admire the Charedim that say simply what ever the Talmud says is authoritative. It is like breath of fresh air. Even if you don’t hold the same opinion, it is refreshing to hear a logical and morally consistent opinion and belief.

  • tesyaa August 20, 2012, 7:23 AM

    Wow, I totally misunderstood what a Harry was. I never realized a Harry was MO. I thought a Harry was a neb, maybe from out of town, maybe whose parents were BTs, but not MO. As you’ve written this, I’d think Harrys would get a heck of a lot more dates than non-Harrys because most girls don’t like guys with stained clothing. Or has that changed since my single days?

    • Philo August 20, 2012, 11:54 AM

      I’ve heard the term “Harry” twice, both times from Heshy’s posts in the last few weeks. It certainly wasn’t around when I had a foot in the yeshivish world 25 years ago.

  • S. August 20, 2012, 8:22 AM

    I think a lot of this is way off. Of course Harrys do chumras and all that. But the point is, no matter what they do, it is unnatural and spottable.

    Unless things have changed. Every day I get a little older.

  • KGH August 20, 2012, 9:59 AM

    S. is correct, Satchel does not get it. Harrys try to act yeshivish, but they do it in such a way that it is clear to all that they grew up modern. For example, they act super yeshivish yet they learn in Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim and live in Kew Gardens Hills. They try to use “oy” but they mess it up every third “cholam,” and even if they get the oy right, they don’t differentiate between komatz and patach, which is typical for modern orthodox, and it makes them sound ridiculous.

    What Satchel is talking about are the guys who would be labeled “Shtark YU guys.” These guys are shtark but remain modern orthodox. For those who know KGH, the difference would be that shtark YU guys daven in Ishei, and Harrys daven in Rabbi Rubin’s shul. Shtark YU guys have no interest in trying to be yeshivish, they are still ideologically modern orthodox, albeit pushing the right edges of modern orthodoxy to the extreme.

    • Shaul August 21, 2012, 6:47 AM

      ohr hachaim is not all harrys (only about 75%-I’m kidding, I dont know a percentage) and rabbi rubins shul is not harryish (its gor normal, well, for kgh at least) the harrys in kgh are to be found at LCM. A sign someone is a harry, or is chassidish and is trying to drop it, is when they use too many yeshivishe reid words in one sentence. A classic Harry sentence (to use the asifa reference earlier) “It was mamash takeh a gevaldige zach to see the gantze oilom at the asifa, so geshmak, such a kiddush hashem. (Note the misuse of yeshivish jargon)

  • chuchom August 20, 2012, 11:49 AM

    a Harry drinks beer from the bottle at a shalom zochor.

  • Philo August 20, 2012, 11:53 AM

    Also, make sure not to look like Billy Crystal in 1989 or like Daniel Radcliffe

  • Woodrow/Conservadox August 20, 2012, 10:25 PM

    Am realizing how much I have to learn about NY frum culture- I thought KGH is yeshivish!

  • Mendy August 21, 2012, 6:35 AM

    Some of KGH is Yeshivish and some is Modox-Machmir.

  • Baal Tosifu August 21, 2012, 10:01 AM

    KGH in the 1980s and 1990s was mainly Modern Orthodox YU and Young Israel (Rabbi Schonfeld, Rabbi Peretz Steinberg) with a few Black Hat shteiblach (e.g. Rabbi Oelbaum), and even some holdout Conservative (the Big I. Usher Kirshblum institution).
    However . . .
    KGH from 1995 to 2012 had an major Orthodox explosion.
    Now it is thriving and growing exponentially with
    1. Modern Orthodox Machmir to Modern Orthodox Liberal
    (YU, YCQ, Young Israel, Israeli Hesder Yeshiva types)
    2. Black Hat “Yeshivish” at the local black hat yeshivas (younger people) and Black Hat family (e.g. Rabbi Oelbaum, etc.)
    3. Bucharian.
    4. and yes, some holdout old timers from none of the above.

    There are approximately forty (40) shuls in the KGH neighborhood between the Long Island Expressway, Union Turnpike, the Van Wyck Expressway and Parsons Blvd ; two Young Israels, smaller pop-up shuls and shteiblach of every possible Orthodox type, plus numerous pizza shops/restaurants/judaica stores, several kosher supermarkets, etc. etc.

    Funny thing is, when people think of “Orthodox New York” they think of Brooklyn or Manhattan, because people’s perceptions are stuck in the late 20th century.

  • Ez August 21, 2012, 11:57 AM

    Heshy, you are such a Harry you don’t even know what a Harry is. A Harry is not someone modern orthodox, but rather someone who is in the yeshivish world and go to a yeshivish yeshiva but do not have a yeshivish pedigree. Children ofBT’s are Harrys. Most out of town people are Harrys unless their parents are from the east coast. A Harry will always say a cholem as oy, but hard as they try, they cant get it right, just as BT’s cant say ch right.

    You couldn’t distinguish between a Harry and yeshivish person. But to us yeshivaleit, they stand out like a sore thumb. They shuckle to robotically.

    • Myron Cohen August 22, 2012, 5:03 PM

      EZ is not only obviously not a Harry, he has it “upgeteiched” 100% on target.
      KGH also got a few involuntary yuks out of me.

      Satchel Boyd on the other hand never stepped foot in a yeshiva.

      Heshy, for all your faults and zany rants I’ve watched from you over the years I wouldn’t classify you as a Harry!

      You’re an old-time Boro Parker FFB who knows the score even though you have no interest in the yeshiva world and did your yeshiva-hopping, you get it. Harrys don’t get it.

    • Myron Cohen August 22, 2012, 5:04 PM

      EZ is not only obviously not a Harry, he has it “upgeteiched” 100% on target.
      KGH also got a few involuntary yuks out of me.

      Satchel Boyd on the other hand never stepped foot in a yeshiva and hasn’t got a clue.

      Heshy, for all your faults and zany rants I’ve watched from you over the years I wouldn’t classify you as a Harry!

      You’re an old-time Boro Parker FFB who knows the score even though you have no interest in the yeshiva world and did your yeshiva-hopping, you get it. Harrys don’t get it.

  • eli August 22, 2012, 2:22 PM
  • fakewoodeer August 23, 2012, 3:57 PM

    From harrysburg aliya to harry-nof shuckels in bosoton shtieble wearing a gartel in chassidishe havoro but sounding like a sefardishe and going to mikveh in a bathing-suit .
    That a real Harry.

    • Myron Cohen August 23, 2012, 9:33 PM

      Like the Mikva one.
      A Harry brings clogs to the mikva and when available, will close the shower curtain.

  • JP August 29, 2012, 10:07 PM

    I’m almost sure this won’t be posted, but…I am sooooo glad that I’m a MO west coast BT. My parents are semi-secular, I’m modern orthodox. I don’t dress like it’s Gombin Poland circa 18th century. I must be a Harry though, I do wear a black velvet yarmulke, a long beard, and I even at times wear my tztitzis to the side…while I’m gettin mad digits from the females between tre flips and crooked grinds at the skate park. I’m having too much fun living life to concern myself with how others pronounce cholam, kamatz, or patach. Also, I daven with kvanah and I am therefore unable to study and dissect the shuckling of others. I’m one lucky Yid! Keepin it Kosher on the left coast. West Side for life bitches!

  • Alter Cocker August 30, 2012, 9:17 PM

    I grew up in NYC and the first time I can recall hearing about a “Harry” was on this blog.

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