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Get to Know the Amish and the Hasidic

Pearl Manandar

Posted on March 27, 2018 23:38

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The Amish and Hasidic are known for their traditional ways of living. They like to remain removed about the modern world and continue to practice their own style of ritual and living.

I’m strolling in a popular neighborhood in New York City and begin to fathom how big the city is. I’m told that around a million people travel to the city for work every day who are diverse and multi-racial.

I’m slowly learning to soak into the atmosphere and then gawk at some of the stylish people on a busy Monday morning, their appearance poised and polished. And in their midst, I find a bevy of men and women all dressed in black and white garb.

The women have their heads covered, are draped in long skirts, men flaunt long beards and their modest fashion makes them stand apart from the rest. I’m slowly getting inducted on my walk to the different communities that live in New York which are considered secluded and insular and these folks happen to be a part of them.

I try to stroll a bit closer to them and realize that they speak different and only among themselves. Till then, I have remotely heard of insular communities such as the Amish and Hasidics but have never encountered one. And here I have a tall and lean hasidic man say something in Yiddish. Who are these people and how are they different?

The Hasidics are orthodox Jews who have lived and thrived in small neighborhoods in the city. Piety and mysticism is part of their daily spiritual life. They are bound to religious obligation by learning the texts and staying away from secular culture as much as possible. Religious rituals permeate in to their day to day life and one is struck by their lack of awareness and ignorance about the mainstream society.

These men and women remind me of another insular community that I had watched on a television series a couple of years ago. Religious obligations, community events and a desire to avoid all things secular have been common to another sect of people known as the Amish. They too very much live amongst us and are quite comfortable in their rudimentary ways of living. They wear humility with pride and are obsessed with their commitment to Amish living.

They abhor modern conveniences and are rigid in their appearance. What amazes me the most is their ability to stay away from electricity, cars and modern appliances. Travel to an Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and watch the folks there in traditional buggies and barns. Hear them converse in Pennsylvania Dutch and operate their barns without modern technology. Visit them in their own turf and they are more than happy to offer you their slice of life.

I ponder on that Monday morning that both these communities share the same love for ritual, tradition and community bonds. They want to stay away and still seem to be a part of us. They may look different, they may sound strange, yet they continue to be a part of our world.

Pearl Manandar

Posted on March 27, 2018 23:38

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