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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Chol Ha Moed Chilluli Hashem

One of my neighbors - a nice guy/computer geek/sometimes comedy writer- sent me this guest post on his impressions of his trip to Hersey Park over Chol Hamoed.

For reasons unknown to me some people think that being part of the "am ha'nivchar" gives them the right to act like total jerks in public. When too many of those people get together this is what results.
Look for my post next week with remarkably similar impressions from my Chol Ha'Moed trip to Six Flags Great Adventure.


PS My neighbor asked me to assign him a secret identity - please note this post was not written by the REAL Henry Kissinger.

Random Observations from my Chol Hamoed Sukkot trip to Hershey Park

On Tuesday, my family and I went to Hershey Park. We've been there before, most recently this summer, but have never been to one of these special Chol Hamoed trips. (At least not since High school, but things were different then)

Here are some random observations:

1) Stroller etiquette
We got there early (Maybe the 40th car in the lot with about that number of people piling out of each car) and went first to Chocolate World which had a stroller parking lot that was only about 5-10% full. However, these strollers still managed to block the entrance. My wife, who is a stroller expert, noted that they were all fancy European strollers. I guess they come
with the same parking rules as fancy european sports cars.

Later on we had a hard time getting our stroller through the single aisle in the sukkah as it was blocked by other strollers.
Here's a rule of thumb I came up with: If parking your stroller in the middle of the aisle would block someone with an equivalent stroller from getting through, something is wrong.

Some of the strollers were used to carry bags of Brooklyn take out. That's an OK idea, but not as good as...

2) The rolling suitcases

People in the park actually had large suitcases that they were rolling around, presumably filled with food. Strange, but not a bad idea.

3) Theme music

Instead of the usual instrumental music which is not kosher for some reason, the park was playing jewish music (I don't know which performer) Apparently, with 28-30 dollars a pop from thousands of people (not to mention the 3.50 hot dogs, etc..), they were only able to afford one tape played in a loop which got real annoying real fast. Even the Music Express that usually plays pop music, played the same tape. It just wasn't the same.

4) General rudeness and line cutting.

On Monday, the day before our trip, I was driving to work and noticed a minivan behind me full of kids that could have been a family going on a Chol Hamoed trip. "How nice", I thought. A minute later I slowed down a bit to let someone pull in front of me and I got honked. That sort of set the tone of how things went at hershey park.

On all of my outings to amusement parks, I have never seen security called until now. We were towards the front of a somewhat long line for the monorail and there was a family trying to get in through the exit with some story about how they were in line at some point and only some of them left and then this one ran after that one and the other one followed this one and the park is closing soon so it isn't fair that they should have to wait in line again. The poor atttendant kept politely telling them that they can't cut the line but the family refused to budge so she had to call a manager. A few minutes later a security guard showed up. I don't know what happened next because I was distracted by the man with a large tray of food pushing through the line. (He was asked to leave as well).

I also saw a lot of kids on lines who were obviously shorter than the ride allowed. On one particular kiddie ride, the operator kept being inundated by people wanting their under height kid to go on the ride. (The ride was a mini merry go round with no straps. I guess they don't mind if little chezky goes flying) A woman in front of us was complaining to her husband and the operator that there are no rides that her kid can go on. I politely pointed out to her the adjancent ride which allowed kids of that size. She made a face at me. I think she cared more about arguing then her kid.
There are 36 rides in the park that these size kids can go on. How do I know?
a) I looked at the map. I don't think anyone else there bothered.
b) I have a daughter that age. Did she cry when she couldn't go on some of the rides? Yes. Do I want her to be a flying Chezkie? No.

The general level of line cutting was higher than on our summer trip. You get on a presumably short line but then all of a sudden the kid in front of you turns into 12 kids wearing the same exact clothing.

The sad part, besides the obvious chillul hashem, is that none of this suprised me.

5) Mincha
They offered 2 mincha minyans. I showed up 3 minutes early to one and was pulled into a breakaway minyan. I'm not from Brooklyn so I find that slightly amusing.

6) Mix of people
By the kiddie rides, it was predominintly yeshivish people. The roller coaster lines were full of teenagers. Suprisingly few orthodox looking ones though. I wonder why?

All in all though, the rides were the same rides, the chocolate the same chocolate, so we had a great time.

Was anybody else there? Did anybody go to Sesame Place where they had separate fully clothed swimming in the middle of October? (It is in Pennsylvania) I'm sure AskShifra would love to hear about it.


Henry Kissinger


At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Computer geek? I'm insulted!


I am a computer geek in order to pay the tuition, but at heart I'm a more of a math geek, which I think is geekier.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Elie said...

This kind of thing makes my blood boil. When I see obviously "frum"-looking people act rudely and obnoxiously in public, I feel ashamed to be Jewish, let along observant. There is absolutely no justification for this behavior. I am not exaggerating one iota, when I say it would be better for these people to stop being shomrei mitzvos entirely than to behave as they do now.

What ever happened to mentchlachkeit?

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt ashamed as well. I did find myself trying to be extra nice to the employees to make up for the others.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Henry - I'm sorry, I meant that in the best possible way of course...
I'm pretty sure computer guys are geekier while mathematicians is "nerdier" I guess you are the best of both!

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

elie - I hate that stuff too but that's some pretty strong stuff you said there...
Wanna back that up with some sources?

At 11:30 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

Why do people act like this? Well, when you walks around your entire life looking like an unkempt freakshow, with greasy payos, a straggly untrimmed beard, no hairstyle, clothes that are either black or white, a large black fedora that remains attached to your head like a growth, a wife who wears too much makeup and cheesy eurotrash clothing with dull, whiny children and the cultural green light to sustaint the self confidence of a sociopath in believing that everything you say, do, and think is brilliantly superior to any other person alive, then it all makes perferct sense.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Elie said...

Shifra: The gemara in the last perek of Yoma lists the atonements required for various kinds of sins. Certain sins are atoned for by simply repentance, some repentance + Yom Kippur, some also require yisurim [suffering] and some are not atoned until death. Then it states that one sin is not atoned for even by death: chillul hashem.

So that's at least one basic source that chillul hashem is far worse than any other sin. It's not too big a stretch to say that it would be the lesser of two evils for someone to commit other atoneable sins by living an entirely non-observant life, rather than appear "frum" and then by their public actions, create chilluli hashem.

Of course this sounds so cerebral. Truthfully, public bad behavior of this type upsets me on a much more emotional and visceral level than comes across in writing.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

This ties in pretty well with that joint post (no, not the post about joints) that we did a few scrolls down. But it's the corollary:

When you wear the uniform, you have an obligation to act like a mentch.

I don't know why these people don't seem to grasp this. Maybe they just consider this to be normal behavior where they come form. My informal observation is that families that come from smaller Jewish communities, like the Midwest, take this obligation much more seriously.

Yet ANOTHER reason to get out of NY.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Elie said...

PT: Good point. Sometimes (when not overcome by rage on this topic) I try to be dan l'cav zchus as much as possible, and say that the behavior is "New-Yorky" and not specifically Jewish. I.e., it's a product of the hustle and bustle, highly competitive, grap what you can city mentality, and that non-Jewish Brooklynites act that way too. But be that as may, I strongly suspect that observers of the action at Hershey Park last week were not saying "what's wrong with those New Yorkers" but "what's wrong with those Jews".

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

you don't have to get out of NY... just move Upstate (and Monsey doesn't count)

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Line Cutting at amusement parks is one of my pet-peeves.

Elie: Living in Israel, I try to expect proper behavior from everyone (mi k'amcha yisrael)...

At 1:01 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

elie: Absolutely. It really annoys me when people come from NY (or even Chicago) into our community and act this way. I think, "these farkakta NY Jews" even though I was one for many years. But it bugs me that we have tried to create a community of refined Orthodox children in a culture that is very hostile to our way of life, and these people descend on us on Yom Tov and go to the zoo or the museum and act like boors, and then leave and we pay the consequences.

And the absolute killer--our kids idolize these NYers because they represent "authentic" yiddishkeit! UGH!

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Personally I like retrofitting my strollers with RPGs, spikes, and a number of other devices that would make Q jealous.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

"Do try to bring your stroller back in one piece this time, double-o theven."

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in the end it comes down to the individual -- You have to decide to be a mensch (and teach your children to do the same).

At 5:37 PM, Blogger projgen said...

Huh. Funny, I just commented on a post of my own about feeling this way about ALL the people in my town, not just the Jewish community.

Meanwhile, "flying chezkies" will have me laughing all day. And I never knew Hershey Park did a special chol hamoed "day for Jews." That's very cool. Are the 3.50 hot dogs kosher?

At 6:05 PM, Blogger littlejerseygirl said...

I was in a small Amusement Park over Chol Hamoed that was specifically opened for Succot (they are normally not open during the week this time of year.
I just want to say that if I was 18 and my mom made me match my 2 year old brother, I may have ended up with some of the behavioral problems mentioned.
That issue aside,
I was on a slow moving line with my son. It was a ride where you get to drive a car on a track. They only had about 3 cars in use so it took a while. In front of me was a non-Jewish kid, and in front of him was a chasidish man with 4 kids. 3 of the kids decided that it was taking too long and got off the line. They reappeared 10 minutes later. The kid in front of me almost died. The Chassidish father says to him "they were here before" Somehow I did not get it together in time to say "Zeh mamash loh Yofeh" (that is really not nice) although my Dh told me that if I couldn't exppress myself in Yiddish it would be useless.

Then I notice that there is a family taking a nature walk in the grass around the track. This is an area clearly not meant for walking - It is just grounds. The teenagers running the ride were dumbfounded and had to go inform the family that they could not be there.

The ride next to us was closed. It was a large fun slide where you sit in the potato sack and slide down. I look over, and there were about 30 kids riding down the slide (not in potato sacks) lets remember that THE RIDE WAS CLOSED. Dear Lord. So the poor teeagers running my ride had to go tell these parents that it was not ok to put their kids on a ride that was CLOSED.

Dh says that they have their own society with their own social norms and just can't behave in normal society.

Ugg. I was not a happy camper.

At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'll add something . . .

Over the summer, when a friend took me to women's hours at the water park near Latrun (close to Bet Shemesh), we were waiting in a LOOOOOONG line to go on a water slide . . . and there was a group of girls -- from their t-shirts it appeared that they all went to the same (religious)performing arts camp (for girls) -- who spent the entire 15-minute wait SINGING AT THE TOOOOOP OF THEIR LUNGS!!!!

Yes, they were American girls.

The Israelis were waiting quietly.

Oh, they also "saved places in line" for each other, and a group of about 10 of them tried to cut ahead "to be with their friends" but the ranks of Israelis closed in and through the force of dirty looks made the newcomers wait their turn.

When the friends further up the stairs started kicking water down the middle of the stairwell, sprinkling the rest of us in the process, I decided to be a killjoy and ask them where their counselor is, and if she knows that they are spraying water on other people in the park.

That stopped the sprinkling, but not the singing.


That was the first time I understood why so many people hate Americans.

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garrr....That's about all I can say...Garrr...

This made post made me want to rip my hair out!!! Ok, well, maybe not, but I seriously cringed reading this story.

It really makes my skin crawl that people act like this, especially Jewish people. Where does the concept of mitzvot get so confoundedly screwed up that people seriously think it's acceptable to behave like morons??

And of course it's all exacerbated by the fact that they dress "frum" so EVERYONE knows that they're Jewish and there's no way to argue otherwise...

And why is it just us?? (by us I mean Jews, obv.)
I know a fair amount of religious Muslim women (who wear hijab, etc) who do not exhibit this kind of behavior when in large groups in public. In fact, I see them being polite almost to the opposite extreme. And I wonder to myself why Orthodox Jews can't behave the same way? Since when did we get to self-righteous to think that we have the right to go traipsing around making a mess and behaving like monkeys?? I don't know, but I'm peeved...

*sigh* Ok, enough venting. Good post Shifra/Henry Kissinger...Sorry to hear about the experience, though!

At 7:46 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"And the absolute killer--our kids idolize these NYers because they represent "authentic" yiddishkeit! UGH!"

you're kidding me??!!?? People outside new york believe we're doing something right?

At 12:04 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

you're kidding me??!!?? People outside new york believe we're doing something right?

Actually--YES! You have to realize that my community is filled with baale tshuva (many who are baale tshuva to chassidus) and look to NY frum-from-birth chassidim as a source of inspiration as to what "true yiddishkeit" is.

Parenthetically, I really think this has a lot to do with why the kids here are more refined than their NY bretherin--they haven't been exposed to this lack of menchlichkeit from birth. It becomes aquired through exposure to NY chassidim, whom they try to emulate.

It sickens me to see kids that were taught to speak, read, and write in the Midwest come back from camp or yeshiva, mumbling in yeshivish with newly aquired accents.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great post, and what PT said. (All of it.)

I find myself acting more and more like a jerk the longer I live in NY. Thankfully, we get out often enough for me to still realize (usually, when I do something NY-ie outside of it). But it's really sickening.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

projen - Yes, pretty much all the food was kosher.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Personally I like retrofitting my strollers with RPGs, spikes, and a number of other devices that would make Q jealous.

I also retrofit my strollers with RPGs... just a different kind ;-)

Also, interesting how Americans and Israelis think that the other nationality has the worse tourists.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Steg - what are you doing with a stroller at all!?

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Elie said...


Are you sure they weren't part of the park's free entertainment?

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

just making an RPG joke, nothing more ;-)

At 12:15 AM, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

This is why I will never go to an amusement park on "frum day"...somehow derech eretz has become an optional thing in the frum world, instead of the very foundation of Torah and mitzvot. Really upsetting, and unfortunately, rampant...

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