As the title says, I was born and raised in the Hasidic community. For those of you that are unfamiliar what Hasidim are, the Hasidic community is a very religious and traditional community, with a lot of strict rules and customs. There’s a very big focus on staying isolated and not letting in any outside secular influences, which in result creates a very tight nit and family oriented community. Almost everything in our lifestyle is completely different from regular society. From the biggest thing in life, like family, marriage, education, language etc, to the most little ones like, which shirt you’re allowed to wear, or which number blade you’re allowed to cut your hair. There’s so much interesting experiences and observations that I can write about. It probably requires a whole book. But I’ll leave it up for your questions!

Thanks for reading!

Ps. I’m not in the position to put my face in public so the IAmA mods have verified my authenticity confidentiality.

Edit 1: I thought I might get some questions but I wasn’t expecting sooo much so fast. I really thank you for your interest and asking questions! English is not my first language and I’ve never formally learned to write English well. It takes me long to respond, but I’ll try to answer every question slowly. I’ll be back in a hour or two.

Edit 2: I was out for a while and just checked back in, I’m speechless. I really do appreciate each and everyone that responds, I really want to answer every single comment. (I’m usually on the other end where I wait for the OP to respond) I feel like I want to grab a mic and scream shhhh, I’ll get to you all, just one at a time. But as of now I don’t see a mic button on the app.

It seems that if I answer the top question that already have hundreds of sub comments, my answer gets buried on the bottom. I think I’ll try for now to answer the newer ones and see how that works. Thank you guys!

Edit 3: I’m still trying to answer your questions and I will try to continue in the next few days.

There has been a few people that had some interesting ideas and some even mentioned that they would want to meet. I don’t know if that can happen so fast but I would like stay in touch. I’m having a hard time finding a lot of people between thousands of messages. I figured I will create an email account and maybe it will be easier to manage. [email protected]

Hope this doesn’t violate any rules, if it does I will take it down.

Thanks you guys again!

Comments: 4878 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

revoice1836 karma

What do you wish the non-Hasidic community realized about the Hasidic conmunity?

joethefisch2474 karma

I really like this question! I wish people would realize more that most of us haven’t chosen our society or culture. We were just born into it and we usually believe in in even though we haven’t really chosen it objectively. I think if we would listen more and try understand other views it would be better for everyone. Especially when it comes to such insulated community like Hasidim. I would say that most people are good people and have good intentions. Even the ones that act bad in the eyes of someone on the outside, believe they’re following gods word. I think if instead of reacting in hostile manner, you try to listen and understand we all would accomplish much more.

gentlemancaller20001806 karma

I’ve read that internet access is strictly regulated in communities such as yours. Are you violating any rules by being here today?

joethefisch4485 karma

Yes indeed the rabbis and leaders try really hard to ban internet altogether. They have a really difficult time with the internet. Its only allowed for business purposes. They have created a kosher internet filter. You’re only allowed to use the internet with that filter. So yes I’m currently violating the rules by bypassing the filter and being on Reddit...

Chickens11501 karma

Assuming you are no longer Hasidic, what movie, food, bit of info has been your biggest eye-opener?

joethefisch3289 karma

I’m still fully Hasidic, at last from the outside. But my views have radically changed the older I got and the more I was exposed to outside stuff. It wasn’t any particular movie, it was more death of a thousand paper cuts. It was more reading a lot of different views and listening to all kinds different opinions over podcasts etc. If I can name one book on top of my head it’s, Ellie Wiesel’s book Night. I remember reading it a few years back and it really shook my beliefs.

I’ve never tasted anything non kosher. Can bacon be an eye opener?... I’ve never tried.

Dr_Esquire1079 karma

I have a lot of issues with the hasidic community and how it, in my opinion, negatively depicts the greater jewish community, but Ill keep to something lighter. What is the rational behind everyone, including kids, wearing full on black suits with hats in 96 degree with massive humidity weather? I walk around Brooklyn and see the kids in the summer and feel so bad for them.

joethefisch648 karma

The original idea behind the dress code is to be different then everyone else. Another way not to assimilate. Through out the years it gained some layers and customs and it became something holy and something to be proud of. I remember hearing when I grew up, just like the London soldiers wear their uniforms no matter what weather, so do we. This is our uniform.

thinkwalker308 karma

Do you think it is morally or ethically wrong to restrict the flow of information that Hasidim receive? If I understand you correctly, elders within the hasidic community are very careful about what the children are taught in school and what sources of info they can access, and may even teach hasidic youths to not trust the veracity of any information obtained from the secular world. Of course any parent wouldn't want their child exposed to obscenities, but at what point does the censorship become intellectually and/or developmentally restrictive?

joethefisch370 karma

They believe that morality comes from God and god want his chosen people to live this way. They believe the only way to survive so many years and not assimilate is by staying so insulated.

It’s not like parents themselves are educated and well aware what they’re doing, it’s a cycle that goes on for hundreds of years.

since1859294 karma

Do you regard yourself as American in any way?

joethefisch600 karma

Yes they teach us that we should be thankful to our government for giving us the freedom practicing our religion. (My teacher didn’t mention the welfare programs...)

Marius_34240 karma

Do you speak Yiddish as your first language, and what is the opinion of your community towards Israel?

joethefisch364 karma

Yes Yiddish is my first language. Even though I was born and raised in NY.

Most Hasidic jews don’t identify with Israel as a Jewish state due the fact of it being secular. Some sects like Satmer are really anti Israel as well.

DBDude232 karma

What's your take on the book My Name is Asher Lev for people who don't fit in? Since it's written by a Rabbi (Chaim Potok) I'm assuming it's fairly accurate for its time, but how about today?

joethefisch326 karma

I didn’t read that book, but I’ve read his other book The Chosen. It’s one of my favorite books. Even though it was written over 50 years ago it’s still very accurate. I guess part of it, is probably because our community hasn’t changed much in a fundamental level in the last 50 years.

das_superbus232 karma

Do you still have curlywhirly sideburns?

joethefisch205 karma

Yes I do

das_superbus58 karma

Do you feel you need to keep them that way, religiously, or do you feel it's a necessity for keeping the peace in your family/community?

joethefisch100 karma

I’ll choose the latter...

Ash_ash219 karma

I grew up in the suburbs of NYC in the town that has the village of Kiryas Joel with in it. I used to go to a women's only gym with my mom and we befriended a load of the Hasidic women who would attend. It was a real eye opener to see how many women were basically told they had no other choice but to marry and have children. The part I found most upsetting was my mother telling some of her friends how I became a nurse and helped people and one woman expressed disappointment that her daughter's would never achieve something like that, but she could not say that aloud in the community for fear of what people would say.

Are you from a similar community where you would have met and interacted with secular people? And if so, do you think this influenced you to get to know the secular world a little more? Would you want to pursue higher education for yourself or maybe your children (or future children?)

Thank you for this AMA by the way! I've always found Hasidim interesting!

joethefisch107 karma

Thanks for your kind words!

Yes I’m a from a similar community, in Brooklyn actually. I’ve never had just a long casual conversation with someone outside my community. My secular influence was mostly from the internet and books etc.

I always craved to get a higher education, I love intellectual topics. I honestly don’t know what will be will me with my children future. Although many kids in the community have very decent and happy lives and they make it work.

TokenMcGetStoned217 karma

Because you still practice the religion from the outside, do you have any friends or hang out with people that are not Hasidic? Thanks.

joethefisch354 karma

I’ve friends that are on the same page as me. But I’ve never had a real life friend outside my community.

necroticpotato186 karma

Are there significant differences between Hasidic communities? Do they observe different customs and traditions, or would one be able to move comfortably between them? Thank you!

joethefisch285 karma

I would differ a little with the other responses. Although compared to non Hasidic jew we’re mostly the same, there’s a lot of little differences between the Hasidic sects. A lot of them hate each other and would never marry each like Satmer usually wouldn’t marry a someone from Belz. There also different types of dresses or hats for different sects.

_Dilligent93 karma

I use to see a skinny hasidic kid workout at frenchies gym in williamsburg, at first he worked out in full garb, but eventually had sneakers and some muscles after a year or so.

was he breaking the rules coming there? I always wondered.

joethefisch133 karma

It’s usually not the typical kid that would do that and have access to gym. The average Hasidic teenager spends the entire day studying talmud in Yeshiva.

decemnovenarian86 karma

Is the Netflix doc One of Us accurate?

joethefisch108 karma

It’s definitely a good introduction to Hasidim. You got to remember that its a documentary. I think some aspects they got right and some not so. It’s also more a documentary about three people leaving then a documentary about the entire Hasidic community.

redditorandcheef80 karma

Why does everyone I run into (a good amount live be me) seem so rude, they don’t say when I say hi back don’t thank me for holding doors etc... ?

joethefisch133 karma

It comes from being insulated and never being exposed to non jews. I have to admit that I myself still can act like that.... if you’re born and raised so distant it becomes part of your conscious. You can feel afraid and awkward to speak to someone on the outside.

joethefisch61 karma

I respect all humans equally.

benMogh60 karma

Hey, my question is: have you heard of Footsteps (an organization that assists people who wish to leave or explore leaving ultra-Orthodoxy), what do you think of them, and have you ever considered using their services?

joethefisch42 karma

Yes of course I’ve heard of them . I know from outside what they provide but I don’t know anyone personally that used them.

The of using checking them out has crossed my mind but it never materialized.

SameArkGuy53 karma

What's your favorite sandwich?

joethefisch166 karma

Gefilte Fish sandwich (I just said it because I’m jewish, really it’s a regular egg sandwich)

TechRedRaider8847 karma

Thanks for doing this! Question: What rule/custom about the Hasidic community/culture bothers you the most? Which the hardest for most people to abide by? And why?

joethefisch101 karma

Me particularly, that I don’t have the choice to make my own decisions and voice my independent opinions. I’m surrounded by people that have a very small world view and I don’t find common ground.

I would guess the hardest rules for most Hasidim are the sexual ones. You’re not allowed to look at women, mastubate, you have to wait till you get married to have sex. And even then there’s a lot of rules about sex. Like women shave their heads, it’s only allowed in pitch dark etc

akaneel31 karma

Do all women shave their heads? I've heard that a lot just cover up their natural hair.

joethefisch65 karma

In general most Hasidic woman shave their heads, they don’t even feel like they have a choice.

SuperstarTinsanity15 karma

Homeless and bums often harass Hasidic Jews and rudely ask for money on the subway, is it true that Hasidic Jews HAVE TO give money as a rule?

joethefisch22 karma

No it’s not true.

FloristsDaughter5 karma

I am deeply drawn to the Hasidic community and have often considered converting. How are sincere converts viewed?

joethefisch29 karma

Converting is possible and when it done correctly it accepted as sincere. But to be totally honest, it’s almost impossible for outsider to become fully part of the community. We evolved to a very elite community within our selves, that it’s almost impossible for someone on the outside to be accepted from a social standpoint.

Kai_Noir-14 karma

What are you doing here? Aren't you afraid we'll corrupt you?

joethefisch6 karma

Hey I might corrupt you for all you know...