About this blog

About this blog

I’m partial to blogs. It seems much of my life has evolved with a blog following at my heels, like a good dog. My first meaningful encounter with the outside world was on a a primitive blogspot blog where I wrote under the pseudonym “Shpitzle Shtrimpkind”. I was twenty one. That one was semi-autobiographical, authored from my ground level condo in the village of Kiryas Joel, and life changing. After I left Kiryas Joel, I blogged on a site titled Oy Vey Cartoons (which I later merged into this site) where I didn’t just write, I also drew New Yorker style single panel cartoons! Ooo la la! I didn’t have many readers, but I’m still quite proud of that. I’ve done faster-to-fizzle blogs along the way, and then there’s this one since 2015.

an illustration from my doodling days

This blog is borne out of my work as a tour guide in Hasidic Brooklyn. If I had to classify it, I’d say It’s part niche subject blog, part larger cultural criticism, part just me being me. It is a place to document and pontificate on Hasidim in Brooklyn and through the specifics look at the larger picture of human behavior as shaped by societies.

I’m not here to make value judgements about the Hasidic customs in isolation. I don’t feel like getting angry about Hasidic education or how women’s value is defined or other hot button topics. That just isn’t where my heart is.

My heart is in a sort of sociological inquiry; it’s in trying to understand us, us humanoids, Hasidim, Hipsters, Yidden, Goyim, Brooklynites, New Yorkers, Americans, Global Citizens, Humans of the Anthropocene, Etc. If you salivate at the anthropological gold mine of two completely different communities then Hasidism within twenty first century New York is your study. There are differences between my old world and new one everywhere. It’s in everything. Everywhere! Education. Architecture. Economics. Language. Dress. Food. Parties. Weddings. Sex and romance. Technology. Entertainment. Leadership. Values. One and on. What other community in the melting pot that is New York City is so physically close yet so distinct? I don’t think there is competition.

My views and values inevitably shape my writings. I try to temper my opinions on my tours and I have yet to bring soapboxes and lecture on “the medium is the message“ during one. But this is a blog. It is just my own hobby. I am giving myself permission to be a bit more outspoken. I hope I won’t chase away all my customers. Don’t go! I agree with everything you say!

Here’s where I come from: my worldview is secular, leftist, humanist, sorta luddite. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I get pretty heady. I use words like nuance and empathy and out-of-the-box until ears bleed. I read a of analysis, criticism, theory, juicy long reads and prescient full lengths works. I’m inspired by people with big hearts who don’t just run with the herd, from Helen Keller to Bill Watterson to Jane Jacobs to Lisa Simpsons (she is a people!) to Neil Postman. I worry a lot about where the world is headed. This blog helps me. By fiddling around under the hood of how we work as social and individual animals, I feel less like a lost child in an incoherent world.

I also learn so much from meeting all sorts of people. I’ve led groups along the entire religious and political spectrum and I value all experiences. So come on my tour. I will behave myself 😉

PS: If you appreciate my voice and want to see more of it, please consider making a donation or becoming a Patron. The income I earn from the site goes to the talented freelancers who have worked with me by coding, editing, illustrating, brainstorming, proofreading, critiquing and doing much more to help me share my little piece. Your support of my work is the support of independent artists who bring something different and real to the great big web!

  • Elizabeth M
    Posted at 10:01h, 01 April Reply

    Your insights are incredible. I’ve been reading your blog all morning after watching Unorthodox, for an alternate opinion – experience.

  • Mary
    Posted at 11:28h, 02 May Reply

    Hi Frieda, Have you read this book? I saw elsewhere that you like Ayala Fader’s first book, Mitzvah Girls. I would love to see a review on this one! https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691169903/hidden-heretics

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 12:16h, 02 May Reply

      Yes, this is a good book to bring up! I have read it ten years ago (ten years ago was a lonnnnnng time ago) and I remember I loved it but it was academic. I need to reread it in order to review it. I know Ayala personally and she’s one of the best researchers out there about the Hasidic community. She really cares about understanding the community and she brings much much needed attention to the gender dynamic. I probably would trust her on the Hasidic community more than most of the official ivory tower voices.

      I just watched City of Joel – it’s a documentary. But like Mitzvah Girls, it really cares about its subject and is also not the lightest entertainment.

      I also plan to reread Hush, by Judy Braun, because this also really warrants a review.

      Three books by women:
      Sarah Schenirer
      Mitzvah Girls

      They all deserve more attention!

  • Mary
    Posted at 23:47h, 03 May Reply

    Thanks, Frieda! I’m going to check out those books you mentioned!

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