My final high holiday video: the Satmar Bagleiten

My final high holiday video: the Satmar Bagleiten

So, at last, the fun is coming to an end! This concludes my six-part series on the high holidays in Hasidic Brooklyn.

For the last video, we went to the Bagleiten; a specifically Satmar ceremony where the congregation accompanies the grand rabbi to his home, from where he steps out on his balcony and gives a speech. It’s a little like a ceremony for royalty. The Bagleiten takes a special commitment to participate in; after weeks of eating so much, non-stop festivities, dirty laundry piling up, everyone is in a rush to start cleaning up after the holidays. But committed followers stay around for the Bagleiten, even in a night as cold as it was this year. And after the Bagleiten, the long cold winter officially begins. We have a quiet stretch, until my next favorite holiday: Chanukah.

I posted about the Bagleiten in 2016. In that post, I have a video of the Rabbi’s speech. The speech is extremely similar to this year’s speech, but that event felt much more densely populated. It seems that as the rival between the two brothers, Aaron and Zalmen Leib, cooled off, followers don’t feel as compelled to run to the events and prove that their side is bigger. So while during the height of the Satmar breakup in the 2000s these events would be packed, and while the Bagleiten of my childhood would be much much bigger, it seems to have gotten a little less pompous with time. I remember that the Bagleiten would have kids carrying fire torches and police on horseback, and that it filled out many blocks, but that wasn’t the case with this ceremony. Still, it was very interesting. Mostly, standing around in the cold for a long time has a certain kind of payoff when the Rabbi finally emerges and the happenings begin. I had never before stood close enough to the procession to actually see the Rabbi’s house or the Rabbi himself. I’m usually not extremely keen to going to things that are emphatically male and where women stand in the sidelines.

I was so happy to go home after the holidays and just curl up with a book. I always celebrate some of my favorite holidays, and Sukkos was among them. But this year, I celebrated on steroids. Thanks to these videos, and a busy tour season, it felt like I was eating all the good food all the time and participating in more diverse festivities than I have in years. And I have the weight gain to show for it. It was lovely but exhausting. It left me feeling like celebrating these intense high holidays every single year must take so much energy. Kudos to those who can pull it off.

I’m grateful to my youtube viewers whose participation in my channel compelled me to do this and I look forward to sharing with everyone so much more.


Related:

Bagleiten’ a Satmar tradition

Full rabbi’s speech 2022

Building series: Satmar’s eyesore on 540/550 Bedford Avenue

3 Comments
  • J. Clark
    Posted at 21:20h, 22 November Reply

    I loved this series. Thank you for all the time and effort that it takes to produce this content for those of us who live far away from these events. This is such a fascinating piece of Americana. I admire the dedication of the community to their traditions. Thank you so much!

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 21:31h, 22 November Reply

      Thank you for the kind comment. It’s a lot of work but it’s something I feel so passionately about sharing. It means a lot to me when there’s an audience that enjoys it.

  • Heshy Friedman
    Posted at 20:21h, 07 December Reply

    I read some of your posts about your growing up in Williamsburg. As an Orthodox Jew who is heimish and had parents who were Holocaust survivors I would of convinced you to stay married. Maybe moving to Monsey or areas where you don’t need to shave your head and you are allowed to drive would have kept your family together. You could send your kid to a more easy going yeshiva that’s heimish and not have him end up in public school. Today there are so many levels of chassidim just as there are modern orthodox there are modern chassidim as well in the thousands. They only differ from Orthodox Jews by wearing a streimel shabbos and speaking yiddish. Otherwise they live a regular orthodox life. The women don’t shave their heads and use mikvehs on flatbush or manhattan. They raise their kids in yeshivas that are less demanding. There is a way.

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