Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is Teaneck Still A Modern Orthodox Community?

We moved to Teaneck years ago because it was one of the very few Jewish communities remaining in the New York area that could be considered "modern orthodox."
Back then, the Five Towns were an option, but The Five Towns are now pretty much haredi communities.
Now Teaneck is changing. We've had an influx of velvet yarmulkes, black hats and sheitels. To me, it appears the community has taken a sharp turn to the right; Bergenfield even more so.
I bear no ill will to the haredim, (other than my disagreement with their views on Israel) but I've begun to feel like I'm being looked down upon because I don't cover my hair or because I wear pants. I don't want my kids to feel ill at ease wearing shorts on Shabbat afternoons in the park instead of black pants and white shirts.
This does not seem to be the Teaneck of old. Then again, modern orthodoxy in America may be dead.
Any thoughts?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

We moved to Teaneck years ago because it was one of the very few diverse, middle class communities that seemed to welcome people from all backgrounds.

Back then, certain predominantly minority communities were an option, but the socio-economic status made them very unappealing (poor school systems for example)

Now Teaneck is changing. We've had an influx of yarmulkes, private school attending kids, kosher eateries. To me, it appears the community has taken a sharp turn towards homogeny.

I bear no ill will to the Orthodox, (other than my wish for more stores to be open on Saturday) but I've begun to feel like I'm being looked down upon because I don't cover my hair or because I wear pants. I don't want my kids to feel ill at ease because they attend public school and enjoy rap music.

This does not seem to be the Teaneck of old. Then again, true middle class diversity may be dead. Any thoughts?
Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

All I can say is kudos to you anon9:43. I don't think the Administrator (Out of Rightfield)and others acknowledge that Teaneck is not made up of just orthodox individuals. Other people do live here and pay taxes here. Perhaps the question should have been - Is there still a modern orthodox community in Teaneck?
Any thoughts?

Out Of Rightfield said...

Even among the orthodox there are many camps. There are the modern orthodox who tend to take part in society as a whol, and there are the hasidim and haredim who try to alienate themselves from the rst of the world. I fear Teaneck is becoming more of an "isolationist" community.

esther said...

Rightfield - I put a citation and link to you in Teaneck Progress. I want to hear what others have to say about this question.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?
And does it really matter??

Hep Kat said...

We moved to Teaneck years ago because it was one of the very few communities that seemed to welcome to hipster families like me.

Now Teaneck is changing. We've had an influx of guys who wear golf shirts, people who enjoy listening to Celine Dion, ladies who collect Longaberger baskets and families who travel to Branson, Missouri for their summer vacation. To me, it appears the community has taken a sharp turn towards homogeny.

I bear no ill will to the uphip, (other than my wish for them the expand their musical tastes) but I've begun to feel like I'm being looked down upon because I wear a pork pie hat, write free-form poetry and built conceptual art pieces in my garage. I don't want my kids to feel ill at ease because they dress all emo and listen to Belle and Sebastian.

This does not seem to be the Teaneck of old. Then again, true hipsterdom may be dead. Any thoughts?

Out Of Rightfield said...

Thank you Esther

Anonymous: There are different types of orthodox jews, who live in different types of communities. Hasidic and Haredi communities like Boro Park, Williamsburg and New Square, Flatbush and Monsey.
The Five Towns were once a modern orthodox community. Now, they've become Haredi. I fear Teaneck is about to make that transition. Remember our new councilwoman's quote in the infamous Peter Applebome New York Times article about Teaneck. "We don't want this becoming another Monsey" or something like that. That fear is coming true, although I look at it from another perspective.
I used to live in Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, a modern orthodox community at the time. Things changes, the neighborhood went right wing and I felt like I didn't belong anymore. I felt looked down upon becuase of the level of my religious observance, because I didn't wear a long skirt, a hat, a wig or a kerchief.
I don't want to feel that way in Teaneck, but I think that's how I'm looked at by some of the more right wing newcomers.

Anonymous said...

I don't get you, Out of Rightfield. You have championed the right of the new "prayer goup" to attach a "family room" (read: shul) onto a beautiful residential house. It is precisely those zoning laws that would prevent Teaneck from becoming Boro Park or Monsey--with a shtiebl on every block. If, for "religious freedom," Teaneck is not allowed to enforce zoning laws, there is nothing stopping anyone from doing anything they want in the name of a religion in any neighborhood, anywhere. That's right, Out of Rightfield, some of those Obama supporting Muslims you mentioned could buy a house right next to you, move in an imam who is now a resident, build an accessory structure that is essentially a mosque, and start holding "private prayer goups" 5 times a day. Who needs zoning? While we're at it, maybe the house on the other side of you might be purchased by a group of chasidim who want to start a religious school with a dormitory. No need for zoning--it's all about religious freedom.

You can't have it both ways. Modern orthodox Jews are supposed to live in the modern world and follow dina d' malchuta, the law of the land. If Teaneck has zoning and conditional use requirements for religious institutions, I would expect all upstanding Orthodx Jews to act al kidush Hashem (sanctifying God's name)and follow the law to the letter so as to avoid even the suggestion of impropriety. Barbara Toffler was talking about exactly what is about to go on in Teaneck--a battle between the rights of citizens to have a say in the construction of and operation of a religious institution in the middle of their neighborhood, and a group of people who feel they are above the law and don't have to adhere to zoning. If zoning goes, so do all our neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Out of Rightfield,
As the author of the post, why are you ignoring the comments that address the fact that you speak of Teaneck like it has only jewish residents?

Out Of Rightfield said...

Regarding the shul: From my experience, a shtiebel is a full time shul, in a room set aside specifically for davening/learning. That is not what the Feldman minyan is, at least at this time.
There are plenty of minyanim in homes in Teaneck. For example Phelps Park minyan is in a basement of a private house, with davening on Friday night, Shabbat mincha, maariv on Saturday nights and mornings on holidays. They also have Eichah on Tisha B'Av and Selichot in Elul.
It's a prayer group in a house, but in a room that is used as part of the house the rest of the time. It's not a shul. Nobody has a problem with at, as far as I know.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Yes, I know many diverse people live in Teaneck. That's a wonderful thing. My posts deal with the religious aspects of the jewish community, not the community as a whole.

Out Of Rightfield said...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sweat2/
That website tells you which HOME the Sweat IIU minyan is in. It's a prayer group in a home. It's not a synagogue. Can't anybody differentiate???

Anonymous said...

Me an my kinfolk move here ta Teaneck two score in three years back 'cause the town welcomed plain talkin' mountain folks like us.

Now Teaneck done gone changed on us. The new menfolk strut around with their silk cravats and spats. The new folk are having "tea" with "scones" and listening to "opera". Nobody's cussin' at their youngins or shootin' muskrats anymore. The way it looks from my sagging porch, Teaneck is getting all high falutin.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to be feuding with these fancy types(although they complain about my collection of vintage cars on cinder blocks on my front lawn) but I've come to feel like they look down on me for duck hunting along the Hackensack River, keeping chickens in my yard and making moonshine in my garage. I don't want my kids to get beat up because they eat fried squirrel meat for lunch and smoke corn cob pipes.

This doesn't seem like the old Teaneck. Then again, the hillbilly lifestyle could be dying out. Any thoughts?

PublicSchoolParent said...

FWIW, I share the feelings of Anon 9:43.

Anonymous said...

if you want to keep the teaneck of old and keep out the haredim, i think our wives need to start to wear short mini skirts (less than 12 inches long) and halter tops or bikini tops when they go out in the street and go shopping in the kosher resturants,
thatll scare them away.
dont give into peer pressure and become more conservative in your dress to accomoodate the haredim,
make them feel uncomfrotable to be here.

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