Sunday, 31 May 2009

Putting the 'fun' into 'fundamentalism'

Let's talk religion, purely because I've not been controversial enough recently. And let's be honest, one thing that unites us all is the knowledge that when it comes to a/the/the many/you-must-be-having-a-laugh-if-you-believe-that-nonsense deity, we know that we can't all be right.

Otherwise where would the fun be?

I'd never want to convert anyone to my way of thinking - after all, if everyone was nice to one another because that's how they feel society should be rather than because of a existential stick, then what would I laugh at on a daily basis?

This is why I love the area Mrs. RS lives in. She resides at the edge of Borough Park (or Boro Park in local parlance), Brooklyn. Borough Park is home to the largest Hasidic Jewish grouping outside of Israel, and it's getting larger at an eye-watering rate.

The average birth rate in Borough Park is - wait for it - 6.72 children per family, and growing.

7 kids per family on average. Jesus. I just crossed my legs, and I'm a bloke.

They have so many kids out of a sense of religious duty. I'd estimate the area to be 90-95% ultra-orthodox fundamentalists. They have their own private militia police force that is called first, their own ambulance service. Mrs RS has a seen a mob kick a mexican man to death because he goosed a Jewish woman. There has been a riot because one of the many Torah 'scholars' (that act as religious police on just about every street corner) saw a non-Jewish couple kissing in the street and was so offended that he - soon joined by others - physically assaulted them.

To quote the
font of all knowledge:

Culturally and religiously, the neighborhood is considered one of the most Orthodox in the world. "Many families do not own televisions or attend movies. The children attend yeshivas instead of public schools. Adolescent girls do not leave the house without making certain that their knees and elbows are covered, and at weddings and funerals alike, women and men sit separately to avoid physical contact, as required by religious law."

Add to this that the Hasidic sect basically believes that the second coming of Jesus Christ will lead them into the holy land of Israel. This presents a problem because the state of Israel already exists. Therefore - and I'm really not making this up, I've seen and heard with my own eyes and ears - a vast number of this community will support the destruction of the modern Israeli state to hasten the second coming.

Top notch fundamentalism there.

However they're not all bad. They're incredibly kind to their pets. One of their customs involves treating cats with a reverence last seen in Egyptian times, and many of them will carry their cats around with them at all times. In their hats.

I took a photo when I was last there:

My only question is - how Jewish was Dr. Seuss????


Gorilla Bananas said...

I think those cats are part beaver.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

and I thought Jews were peace-loving?! How is the rest of the populace taking this chauvinistic behaviour?

Or another note, how is Mrs Squirrel doing?

weenie said...

They have their own private militia police force This is the bit where it all goes wrong, where they make up their own law....

Belle said...

Your photographic skills are amazing.

Rachel Noy said...

Fun? Puts the mental into fundamentalism.

Red Squirrel said...

gb - dam, you may be right! :-P

Roshni - the more fundamental any religious person is, the more misogynistic they get (in my experience). This part of New York needs to be seen to be believed. I find it rather sinister myself.

Mrs RS is much better thanks and is nearly fully recovered :)

weenie - oh, it's *all* their own law. The normal police let them get on with it too, in case they 'offend' anyone.

Belle - what can I say? Photoshop is my friend ;-)

Rachel - hmmm, your title is perhaps a bit better than mine..... *narrows eyes*

Sweet Cheeks said...

7 kids per family explains the insanity...

I'm just saying, it has been difficult for Mr. Cheeks and me to not go totally bonkers with our 3 children.

Oh wait...

I am totally bonkers.


Rachel Noy said...

Nah, yours is better. This ain't no Scrabble!

Red Squirrel said...

Sweet Cheeks - you said it :)

Rachel - I suspect that you'd beat me at scrabble!