A century ago a Christian Mission to the Jews stood in the heart of Williamsburg. A great sign “The House of the Prince of Peace” stood atop the building, and inside was, among other things, a medical clinic called the Sar Shalom Dispensary.

It was founded by Leopold Cohn, a Hungarian apostate, who founded a ministry to the Jews called the Chosen People Ministry. Amazingly, the ministry founded in 1892 survived eventually became Jews For Jesus, 80 years later!

And even more amazingly, Leopold Cohn (1862-1937) wrote the following about his youth in Hungary:

“At about eighteen years of age I was proficient in Hebrew literature and Talmudic law. I then received from several rabbis, in whose colleges I had studied, a diploma containing a certificate of my good character and acquirements and and authority to become a rabbi. This was confirmed by my first and chief rabbi, a miracle performer, S. L. Teitelbaum, in Sziget.”

That is, the Williamsburg missionary Cohn was a student of the Yetev Lev, progenitor of the Satmar rebbes, in his youth, in Sighet!

Pre-Shovues shopping days in Williamsburg: Video captures a custom unique to Shovues and it isn’t about creamy cheesecakes.

To local florists in Hasidic Williamsbrug, business this week is busy. Very busy. The Shovues holiday substitutes for lost opportunities on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, two holidays Hasidim generally don’t celebrate.

In the days leading up to Shovues, families and acquaintances will exchange the language of flowers. And by the time the holiday arrives – and shopping and commerce have come to a total halt in Hasidic Williamsburg – greenery and floral decorations will augment the holiday spirit in dining rooms at home, where holiday meals with family will be feasted, and around the bimah and aron hakodesh in synagogue halls, where holiday prayers and services will be held.

Note in the video how local religious schools also benefit from the increased demand, setting up competing ad-hoc florist bazaars.

Video courtesy of VINNews, 2013

Blog post by Yoelish

Since I wrote about the church in Kiryas Joel yesterday, a number of people shared with me their memories of the time when the peaceful, insular world of Kiryas Joel was overwhelmed by the mass influx of Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the church on Mountain Road. It was an unforgettable sight when the buses poured in and the Hasidim went about their way.

One particular anecdote I heard was so ironic, I had to share it (with permission, of course.) A Hasid and Kiryas Joel resident who was on the Hatzalah/EMS force, responded to a 911 call. A woman had collapsed at the Jehovah’s Witnesses church. The first responder and two other Hasidic EMS members, in the full Hasidic regalia down to the tsitsit, had to find their way through throngs of worshippers inside the building to get to the patient. When the three Hasidic hatzalah members left the church with the patient, they got a standing ovation!

A clash of world like that – it’s incredible.


    This is from the Free Williamsburg magazine’s October 2010 edition. It is a illustration of Williamsburg’s colorful and contrasting population of hipsters and Hasidim. The hipster frog is riding a bike, the lion has his headphones on while his hair is grown in long – channeling some rock music personality, the cow has a lot of tattoos, the girl (not an alligator?) is coming out of the sewer. The Hasidic bear couple is holding hands. As we know, Hasidic couples don’t actually hold hands or express any type of physical affection in public, but if this couple is fraternizing amid this scene, we can’t surmise what they may be up to that run of the mill Hasidic couples would not do. We leave the scandal investigation to other authorities.

    And note the giant bow on the woman’s wig. That is a fashion catastrophe.