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In Brooklyn, a Hasidic walking tour opens ultra-Orthodox Jewish life to outsiders
A walking tour in Crown Heights opens the door to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
September 28th, 2011
11:58 AM ET

In Brooklyn, a Hasidic walking tour opens ultra-Orthodox Jewish life to outsiders

By Philip Rosenbaum, CNN, and Ryan P. Casey, Special to CNN

New York (CNN) – When he was 18 and still living in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Beryl Epstein received a call from his older brother, Mordechai, who was about to join the Israel Defense Forces.

Mordechai urged his younger brother to come to Crown Heights, a largely ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, where he was studying before heading to Israel.

“I knew there must be more – something I was missing,” recalls Epstein, 53, who grew up in a secular Jewish home.

His visit to Crown Heights the following year, 1977, inspired him to move there and to join the Chabad Lubavitch, a Hasidic Jewish sect predominant in the neighborhood. Inside his new community, Epstein noticed there was a misconception among outsiders that Lubavitcher Jews – who are distinguished by dark clothing, frequent use of Yiddish and what they say is an unyielding focus on devotion to God – shun the outside world.

“I felt there was such a need to acclimate society to Hasidic Jews,” he says. “It’s one thing to have people speak about Hasidim. It’s another to have Hasidim themselves speak.”

Since 1982, Epstein has helped to bridge his community and the rest of the world by leading more than 200,000 New Yorkers, tourists, scholars and others on his Crown Heights walking tours.

With four other guides, Epstein runs the three-hour, $36 tours through an organization he founded called The Chassidic Discovery Welcome Center.

As the tour begins, it’s easy to feel transported far from Manhattan. Streets bustle with ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who don seemingly identical black suits, long coats, big black hats and shiny black shoes.

The men, who spend hours each day studying the Torah and Torah commentary, walk briskly between home and synagogue for morning, afternoon and evening prayers.

A torah is displayed in the workshop of a scribe.

Epstein calls this seeing “people living in a natural habitat.”

The neighborhood’s women wear long skirts and long-sleeve shirts, revealing as little skin as possible. Married women cover their heads with hats or scarves, and some wear wigs, following Jewish laws of modesty.

Old-fashioned bakeries, Judaica stores and kosher restaurants bearing worn-out signs in English and Yiddish dot the streets. Chain stories are a rarity.

Still, signs of modernity are commonplace.

Men examine religious books and CDs on Kingston Avenue in the heart of Crown Heights.

The first stop on the tour is the neighborhood’s main synagogue. Dissonant voices carry through a large room as men and their sons pray, read and chat.

One man pulls out his iPhone. Chabad, which is headquartered in Crown Heights and is well known for running Jewish study centers around the world, has eagerly harnessed technology to spread its message. The synagogue’s activities are streamed live on the Internet at http://www.770live.com. In adjoining classrooms, lessons are digitized for students to download.

Sitting in the second-floor women’s gallery, the tour group watches the action below, snapping photos and asking questions while a young woman prays silently just a few feet away.

The synagogue and school, or yeshiva, are part of the building known as “770,” which refers to its address at 770 Eastern Parkway.

The building also houses the office of the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Schneerson. The Chabad movement’s spiritual leader, Schneerson died in 1994 and has not been succeeded.

A replica of the 770 building, constructed of bricks from the same quarry, stands in Israel. “This is the community center. This is life,” Epstein says. “This is where the mundane becomes holy.”

In a nearby building, the tour group watches scribes write and restore Torah scrolls, making every effort to avoid a slip of the hand.

Although it takes almost a year and 60 kosher animal skins to write all 200 columns of a Torah with a feather and kosher ink, Epstein says a computer program can scan the scroll’s 304,805 letters for mistakes. Any errors, including illegible letters or two letters touching each other, can render the scroll inaccurate, which means it’s not sacred.

Downstairs, the scent of paint and varnish permeates a small room where men make tefillin, small black boxes containing Torah verses that Orthodox Jewish men 13 and older wear during morning prayers. One box is put on the head and another on the arm, using leather straps.

Epstein addresses questions from the group, which includes curiosity seekers from nearby and as far away as Texas and South Africa. The tourists say they were intrigued by what they read about the tour online and in guidebooks, as they seek off-the-beaten-path experiences. They ask about everything from the definition of “kosher” to the role of women in ultra-Orthodox Judaism and even what Hasidic Jews do for fun.

Rabbi Beryl Epstein speaks with the tour group before hitting the streets of Crown Heights.

Epstein answers with a smile and sharp wit, his body swaying back and forth in the same way Jews sometimes do when enveloped in deep prayer.

“Don’t read everything in here, or I won’t have anything to say today,” he jokes when the tour ducks into a library with thousands of religious books in Hebrew.

Epstein peppers his talk with life lessons and anecdotes on relationships, family, spirituality and parenting, including the fact that Hasidim do not watch television or follow the news very closely. They say they’re keen to avoid exposure to negative messages from secular culture, especially violence, sex and gossip, which is forbidden under Jewish law.

Members of the community hear about important events like last month’s Hurricane Irene, Epstein says, by word of mouth.

“Some parents spend a lot of time making sure nothing unhealthy goes into their child’s mouth,” Epstein says. “I don’t see why they don’t spend more time monitoring what goes into their child’s mind.”

Later, the group crowds into a mikvah, a ritual purifying bath in a building nestled among a row of brownstones. Although it translates to “pool” and looks like a large bathtub, a mikvah is not for swimming or bathing; one must be clean before immersing in one.

Epstein leads the way through brightly lit preparation rooms stocked with showers, soaps, shampoos and beauty products.

For some men, mikvah is an infrequent ritual, while others use it every day before morning prayers. Women are required to submerge in the mikvah at the conclusion of their menstrual cycle, before resuming intimate relations with their husbands, as well as after childbirth. Using the mikvah is also an essential step in converting to Judaism.

On the way back to 770, Epstein gestures across the street to an empty parcel of donated land, where he hopes to someday build a visitor and learning center to help educate outsiders about the Lubavitcher movement.

“My goal is not to create a museum,” he says. “It’s not about the past – it’s about what’s going on right now … an immersion in Jewish living history.”

He has fostered the idea since the 1991 Crown Heights riots, when violence erupted between the neighborhood’s African-American and Jewish communities. August marked the 20th anniversary of the three-day riots, which ignited after a Jewish driver in the rebbe’s three-car motorcade accidentally struck and killed a 7-year-old black child, Gavin Cato.

Hours later, an Orthodox doctoral student from Australia was fatally stabbed by a mob of young men.

Two decades later, New York as a whole has transformed into a generally safer place, including Crown Heights with it. Still, occasional tensions linger.

“The greatest fear is the fear of the unknown,” Epstein says, “and I knew that if people knew what was going on here, they would feel connected to it rather than fight it.”

At the end of the tour, the group eats lunch at a kosher deli. Epstein takes out his Flip Cam to record everyone’s reflections, which he compiles into a short keepsake video.

"I’m coming away with a lot of questions, but a lot of answers, too,” says Irene Broussard of Austin, Texas, as she finishes her meal. “I want to wipe away my ignorance about religion.”

On another recent tour, a classical recording artist from Clearwater, Florida, said he was inspired to work his Crown Heights experience into his music.

"I felt like crying at 770 because I could feel the love and sincerity of what was happening,” Epstein says.

Epstein says this kind of response is his greatest reward.

“My hope is for people to incorporate a little bit of this community back into their own lives.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • New York

soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. gary

    Delusional hypocritical whack jobs. Just for the way they treat women they should be force fed shell fish and boiled in pork fat.

    December 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Aaron

      And just how are they being treated? I can't speak for the Hasidim, but I know many an orthodox Jewish woman who went to college, hold advanced degrees, etc. If you think all Jewish women are supposed to be barefoot and in the kitchen, 2 words: Stern College.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  2. Liz Rondelle

    How ironic that in Brooklyn ultra conservative Jews are "opening" up their community to Gentiles and in Israel they are harassing more liberal/secular Jews. (also in the news today).

    December 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  3. Shirley

    I am a Gentile who went to a couple of hasidic sabbath services. I felt the spirit of God amidst the worship. I saw devotion to God and heard a message about making righteous acts a part of daily life. Mitavah's is what I think they are called. I found hasidim to be caring and loving and of the softest character. The rabbi asked me if I was a Cohn or a Levite. So respectful. Had I been either I could have carried the Torah, which I would have found to be sacred. I highly recommend the uninformed to go to a service and worship.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  4. Ray

    Ultra religious Jews do not recognize Israel. The Torah (Bible) says that Israel will exist after the Messiah comes. If they acknowledge Israel then they admit that Jesus the Messiah already came.

    December 23, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  5. PC

    Who cares ? Not Jesse Jackson, and not me. I'd rather visit Memphis...it has better BBQ. When I go to NYC, if it ain't in Manhattan, fugetaboudit.

    December 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Dave Longeuay

      While it's possible that any man could be the future antichrist, we shouldn't just point out finger at someone we don't like and claim he's the antichrist. After all if the pointing finger in wrong, the the real antichrist goes undetected until it's too late. The bible alludes this will happen. I read a great book that gives light to prophetic things call "Rebirth" (www.rebirthofisrael.com) and it made a lot of sense.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  6. One With Israel - Your God My God

    Jesus, King of the Jews, is KING of kings, and LORD of lords

    Isaiah 53
    1 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
    2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
    3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
    4 Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
    5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
    6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
    and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
    7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
    he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
    8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
    For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
    9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
    though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
    10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
    he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
    11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
    by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
    12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong
    because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
    For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

    December 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • esther

      One of the most common questions we receive at Aish.com is: "Why don't Jews believe in Jesus?" Let's understand why ― not in order to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position.
      Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
      Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.
      Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.
      Biblical verses "referring" to Jesus are mistranslations.
      Jewish belief is based on national revelation.
      But first, some background: What exactly is the Messiah?
      The word "Messiah" is an English rendering of the Hebrew word "Mashiach", which means "Anointed." It usually refers to a person initiated into God's service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, I Kings 1:39, II Kings 9:3)
      Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as "an anointed one" (a Mashiach or a Messiah). For example: "God forbid that I [David] should stretch out my hand against the Lord's Messiah [Saul]..." (I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, Psalms 20:6)
      Where does the Jewish concept of Messiah come from? One of the central themes of Biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
      Click here to receive Aish.com's free weekly email.
      Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)
      Since every King is a Messiah, by convention, we refer to this future anointed king as The Messiah. The above is the only description in the Bible of a Davidic descendant who is to come in the future. We will recognize the Messiah by seeing who the King of Israel is at the time of complete universal perfection.
      1. Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies
      What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:
      Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
      Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
      Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
      Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ― on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
      If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah."
      Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.
      Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.
      ____________________
      2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah
      A. Messiah as Prophet
      The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum – Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides – Yad Teshuva 9:2)
      Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets ― Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
      Jesus was not a prophet; he appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.
      B. Descendent of David
      According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (1) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.
      The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father ― and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (2)
      C. Torah Observance
      The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)
      Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"
      ____________________
      3) Mistranslated Verses "Referring" to Jesus
      Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text ― which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.
      A. Virgin Birth
      The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.
      B. Suffering Servant
      Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the "suffering servant."
      In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the "Servant of God" (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel. When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter" at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44). Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.
      ______________________
      4) Jewish Belief is Based Solely on National Revelation
      Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God's true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show ― assuming they are genuine ― is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
      Judaism, unique among all of the world's major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).
      Of the thousands of religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation ― i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.
      Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):
      The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.
      What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others... as it says, "Face to face, God spoke with you..." The Torah also states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us ― who are all here alive today." (Deut. 5:3)
      Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.
      For further reading: "Did God Speak at Mount Sinai?"
      Waiting for the Messiah
      The world is in desperate need of Messianic redemption. And to the extent we are aware of the problems of society, is the extent we will yearn for redemption. As the Talmud says, one of the first questions asked of a Jew on Judgment Day is: "Did you yearn for the arrival of the Messiah?"
      How can we hasten the coming of the Messiah? The best way is to love all humanity generously, to keep the mitzvot of the Torah (as best we can), and to encourage others to do so as well.
      Despite the gloom, the world does seem headed toward redemption. One apparent sign is that the Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel and made it bloom again. Additionally, a major movement is afoot of young Jews returning to Torah tradition.
      The Messiah can come any day, and it all depends on our actions. God is ready when we are. For as King David says: "Redemption will come today ― if you hearken to His voice."

      December 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • aboutbeer

      get a life

      and a beer 🙂

      December 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Get Real

      esther,

      Well, you have the Jesus-was-no-messaih part correct. Now, realize that the whole Hebrew "God" story is the same deal. There is no verified evidence that any supernatural being spoke to any folks on Mt. Sinai... or ever. Paul of Tarsus *said* he was spoken to by "God" or Jesus (or somesuch), as did his unnamed 500 'witnesses'. Witnesses *said* that Joseph Smith's godly visit was true too, you know. Jim Jones, David Koresh, that woman in Texas who drowned her 5 kids, and countless other nutcases have claimed this garbage over the years. Bunk.

      No-one is coming, esther. We are on our own. Let's make it a great world to live in.

      December 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Man

    Israel is not really a country (at least not in Biblical terms). The Bible doesn't name a country called Israel. Israel was a man and his descendants, not a country. Jacob's name was changed to Israel by God. When you say Israel you are either talking about a man-made country or a group of people. God never made a nation called Israel.

    Also, the truly orthodox Jews don't believe in the nation of Israel, and they don't believe in Zionism (pretty much the same thing). The truly orthodox Jews think their holy land can only be restored when the savior comes.

    We Christians believe, of course, that the Messiah already came, and that He will restore Israel when he returns.

    Lots of differing opinions.

    Hating Jews isn't anti-Semitic, by the way. Hating Jews is bigotry. Semitic people are the ones who grew up in the areas of North Africa, and much of the Middle East. Palestinians are Semitic, and are most likely the descendants of the original Israelis. Do you actually think Barbara Streisand is Semitic? The woman is white as snow. Semitic people aren't white. They have very brown skin. Moses was Semitic, and only his parents knew he wasn't an Egyptian. He didn't know he wasn't Egyptian until he was an adult. What does that tell you? It tells you that the original Israelites and Egyptians looked the same.

    Anyone can be Jewish. It's a faith. But not everyone is Semitic.

    Some of you really need to spend more time reading about this.

    December 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Steven

      Man,

      "Israel is not really a country (at least not in Biblical terms). The Bible doesn't name a country called Israel. Israel was a man and his descendants, not a country. Jacob's name was changed to Israel by God. When you say Israel you are either talking about a man-made country or a group of people. God never made a nation called Israel."

      Wrong! According to Wikipedia, "The expression "Land of Israel" is first used in a later book, 1 Samuel 13:19. It is used often in the Book of Ezekiel and also by the Gospel of Matthew." In Biblical terms, there was a country called the Land of Israel.

      "Also, the truly orthodox Jews don't believe in the nation of Israel, and they don't believe in Zionism (pretty much the same thing). The truly orthodox Jews think their holy land can only be restored when the savior comes."

      Wrong! That some Hasidim do not believe that the nation of Israel should be established until the coming of the Messiah does not mean that they do not believe in the nation of Israel or in Zionism. Hasidim are adherents to Messianic Zionism rather than Political Zionism.

      "Hating Jews isn't anti-Semitic, by the way. Hating Jews is bigotry. Semitic people are the ones who grew up in the areas of North Africa, and much of the Middle East. Palestinians are Semitic, and are most likely the descendants of the original Israelis. Do you actually think Barbara Streisand is Semitic? The woman is white as snow. Semitic people aren't white. They have very brown skin. Moses was Semitic, and only his parents knew he wasn't an Egyptian. He didn't know he wasn't Egyptian until he was an adult. What does that tell you? It tells you that the original Israelites and Egyptians looked the same."

      I'll grant you that the term "anti-Semitism" is an inaccurate term for Jew-hatred, which is why I much prefer the term "Jew-hatred" to "anti-Semitism". However, you are off base with your assertions that the so-called "Palestinians" are likely the descendants of the Israelites. The Y-chromosomal Aaron and Y-chromosomal Levi is found in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish communities. It is not found in "Palestinian" communities. Therefore, the "Palestinians" could not possibly be the descendants of the Israelites.

      "Anyone can be Jewish. It's a faith. But not everyone is Semitic."

      True, anyone can be Jewish as it is a faith, but it is the faith of a nation so that one who converts to the Jewish religion also joins the Jewish nation. Again, "Semitic" is a misnomer and I am in full agreement.

      "Some of you really need to spend more time reading about this."

      I would include you, Man, in the group of those who really need to spend more time reading about this. Your comments reak of misinformation from Jew-haters.

      December 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • rider83

      Jewish is religion and that is all it is! No one can be born jewish or be part jewish, no matter what someone from the jewish religion says!! They are the ones who wrote the book, which can never be proven to be right or wrong! The people of the jewish religion are the only religious group allowed to lobby congress, WHY????

      December 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • angelic

      you have a fair point, but i doubt people are smart enough to realize this.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Lars J

      The Egyptians, according to their art, were both light and dark. My guess is that you are an African-American because I've found this issue to be an important one to that community. But we simply do not know how dark or light Moses was. There are many full blooded Jewish people who are very light. And some that are dark. A variety. That's just the way it is.

      December 24, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • BlogHaha

      @Man

      I like that one
      It s a great reminder , when you said that ...." Moses only his parents knew that he was not Egyptian.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  8. Man

    With all due respect toward the Jewish people and their faith, this article has to qualify as the most boring ever written. I'd rather read about quilting, and I have ADHD.

    December 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Dan W

    I was watching for just a short time and I saw the whole room break out into song. This tradition is such a beautiful one, I'm glad they are opening up more to the outside world.

    December 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  10. jane

    "a Jewish driver in the rebbe’s three-car motorcade accidentally struck and killed a 7-year-old black child, Gavin Cato.
    Hours later, an Orthodox doctoral student from Australia was fatally stabbed by a mob of young men."

    You mentioned the kid killed in the car accident was black and the driver of the car was Jewish. You even named the name of the kid killed in the car accident. You omitted that the mob who killed YANKEL ROSENBAUM was black. You even omitted the victim's name. Strange, when the media reports on similar incidents btw whites and blacks they don't phrase it in a way that is more sympathetic to the mob then the victims. All lynch mobs have their excuses and the media should be ashamed of themselves for their bias when it comes to hate crimes like the one poor desribed above

    December 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • jane

      typo: comes to black hate crimes like the one poorly described above

      December 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Aaron

      I lived in NY at the time of the "Crown Heights Riot". It should have been called the "Crown Heights Pogrom". Calling it a riot gives the impression both sides were fighting, looting, burning, raping. The Jews begged NYPD to intervene but their hands were tied by then-Mayor Dinkins who didn't want to upset his main voting block by appearing to be an Uncle Tom mayor. If a white mob ran through the streets yelling "kill the Jews" it would have been international news. However when "angry black youth" screamed it in Crown Heights no one paid any attention.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  11. jon

    History repeats itself as current day extreme leftists embrace the same views as Hitler and seek to blame the Jews for everything.

    December 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  12. Lord Haw Haw

    Jews watch out–you're hellbound!

    "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
    Mark 16:16, Authorized (King James) Version

    December 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jill Beverly

      It is so sad to think of your ignorance and bigotry. I would never want to have a mindset like yourself. I will pray for you.

      December 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • truthbetold

      Lord HAW HAW- You are a fool and will suffer as only fools shall. See Ezekiel 25:17
      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you

      December 25, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  13. Common Sense

    One word "mohel"

    December 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  14. Mom of Three

    I bet the bagels on the tour kick ass.

    December 17, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  15. David

    “Some parents spend a lot of time making sure nothing unhealthy goes into their child’s mouth,” Epstein says. “I don’t see why they don’t spend more time monitoring what goes into their child’s mind.”

    And this is why Jews are badass ... wish other whites weren't f–king zombie TV watchign morons ...

    December 16, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • pjski

      an ironic comment considering who owns about 99% of media, tv programs and hollywood....

      December 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Common Sense

      David...Jews are not white or even European they're in fact inbred semetic tribes from Ethiopia

      December 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  16. jarry

    'Success'ful‘min'gle..COMis a person'als place where you can meet success'ful rich men, classy mature women, rich women looking for marriage, or just meet beautiful friends and singles. Good luck! 🙂

    December 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Good luck? You'll need it

      December 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  17. SupportPalestine

    why bother worry about what goes into the mouth or mind when jews are nothing but a filthy greedy dirty lot. Long live Palestine!!! Israel is the worst human rights violators in the world!

    December 15, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • david

      yes, why bother learning something that might challenge your pre-conceived, not to mention hateful, stereotype?

      December 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Thanks for stopping by. Have a bagel on the way out.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Common Sense

      David so you're saying inbred Ethoipians aren't dirty?Look up a "mohel"

      December 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • octopus

      You know there's no "Palestine", right? Romans renamed Israel to Palestine after a Jewish uprising.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Leann

      You're a coward for making such ugly, bigoted generalizations. Why don't you use your full name if you!re going to make such hateful and baseless statements?

      December 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • truthbetold

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you

      December 25, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  18. Maty

    Looks pretty fascinating, actually.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      It does. I think I'll check it out next time I'm in the area

      December 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  19. Jack Mehoff

    I thought i was on that tour in rural PA but it turned out they were just Amish

    December 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  20. mdn

    Anything for a buck...Oy!

    December 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.