So this past week between jobs I took my old summer job of inspecting camps for the State of NY back for a week or so. It was fun because as always it provides a rare seen glimpse and up close encounter at the mysterious chassidim, that I am usually just honking at to get out of the middle of the road in Monsey. Rather then honking or flipping off for driving like maniacs, I am talking with, while auditing their government funded food programs. Jewish geography is played and shocked women speak in hushed yiddish wondering how on earth a frum kid came to be a camp inspector (college internship btw)
The thing about the job is this, every year I have to deal with the questions of all my non-Jewish coworkers asking all sorts of questions. I guess I am in insider, even though I do not really have an in and sometimes make up answers to questions I have wondered myself- just to try and excuse some of the practices that Chassidishe camps and bungalows seem to have.
Here are the two main questions asked of me:
Why do all the kids stare as if they have never seen non-Jews before?
It becomes very annoying I must say when you have 500 little kids staring at you for two hours. I sometimes say “what are you staring at?” in yiddish and that freaks em out”. But seriously, the litvishe kids do not do this, and its both boys and girls, they stare at me and debate if I am a Yid or not- its awkward. Its not as if these kids all live in a shtetle, or they don’t have all these non-Jewish workers at the camp. Why the staring.
Why are the camps so dirty?
I always make up excuses for this, by usually saying, who has time to be clean when you have so many kids? But this is just to defend them, I also wonder the same thing, its not only in the camps- its a general aspect of Charedi neighborhoods to be filthy with garbage strewn about.
On a side note, I was at a camp the other day and the head waiter comes up to me and says. “Are you Heshy?” I say yes why? Well because some family in the other room really wants to meet you. And so at an extremely yeshivishe camp I met the Vail Family from Crown Heights who were overjoyed more then anyone I have ever met and meeting the guy behind frum satire. So they get a shout out.
By the way my biggest challenge with Charedim is finding some positive way to make fun of them and its nearly impossible for me.