Chassidim Unveiled

20 images Created 13 Feb 2016

New Square, Upstate, New York in one of the most religious Chassidic communities encompassing mostly post-war, holocaust survivors from Hungary who first moved to Williamsburg and later decided to migrate in the calmer country side where they could better obey the teachings of their Rebbi. Kal, or Kalmy as his mother Yenty calls him, comes from New Square, Upstate, New York. But, he left Skvira *(named after the old religious town of Skvira in Hungary where they lived previous to the War) when he was 11 for "many reasons" he says. "The sexual abuses were not all of them. I did not get answers to many of my questions of why all of a sudden I had to wear a black kippa and not a colored one, why we had to wear a longer coat and not a short one, or why we were not allowed to read the part about sexuality within the Torah." His life after leaving New Square brought him to seminars in Williamsburg and later to Israel where his youth years took a wrong turn into drugs and the "wrong companies." He got married, had a child with an Israeli woman, shortly divorced and moved back to New York where he started a modeling career. He straggled with his identity for years to come. Until he made peace with it and he is now ok with being an non-orthodox Jew living outside of his New Square community, but still going back to visit once in while. "I have a nostalgia every time I think of Skvira. This is my home. This is where I grew-up. And, even if I do not agree with 99% of the things these people believe in, every time I come back I am happy," he said while sitting outside of his parents house in the cold to listen to the young men of the Yeshiva singing after the evening prayers. "I still sing the same songs all the time while meditating. This is what I was taught. This is what I know."
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