From The New York Shitty Inbox: Nocturnal Activity on West Street

December 8, 2009 by
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Yesterday morning it was a pile of Techicolor mystery marbles; today it is this. L writes (at 12:43 a.m.):

I have spent the past 1/2 hr trolling the web trying to find out what was going on at the end of India st before (my partner) reminded me “uh, the Hasidic community is not going to broadcast their goings on on the Internet”. Doh.

There was a MASSIVE collective at the end of India tonight. I think it’s breaking up now, but there is an incredible police presence as well. Any word on this? Cops are saying that it’s a fundraiser for a school…

and at 1:00 a.m.:

At my count, and this was just what was visible, there were 8.  Some of them were still going when I passed… And all of west and the streets from Milton to at least Green were Minivan central.

PS – ONLY the menfolk and boys from about 5 and up were there.  i REALLY doubt that this was a fundraiser.  Why would they be in GREENPOINT?

And last— but hardly least— this. M writes:

I was hoping you might be able to help me out with something.  I live in our beloved Greenpoint (2.5 years, woot!) and one of things I like most about it is that it tends to be quiet at night.  However last night there was, for lack of a better term, a ruckus at Franklin and Huron.  I was trying to fall asleep but there were cop cars, people shouting, helicopters, and at one point around 1:00am I think (not sure, memory is blurred by sleep) a TON of horn honking.  When I was getting home around 6:15PM I noticed at the end of India near West st it was all lit up, but I assumed it was movie shoot or something of that sort.  Just wondering if you had any insight as to what exactly went down last night.

I have absolutely no idea what happened on West Street last night. Whatever it is (or make that was) it sounds pretty darned interest. If any of you, dear readers, so please share via the comments. Inquiring minds want to know!

Miss Heather

UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.: We have an answer! Both via comments and a reader. C writes:

I am not a jewish scholar, but a bit of research led me to this:

Yesterday was 20 Kislev, or Chaf Kislev, “Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism” (
According to Chabad Customs ( ( see bold ):

“The practice has become widespread [616] to hold the main farbrengen of Yud-Tes Kislev on the eve of the 20th, because the Alter Rebbe was released from prison on the 19th at Minchah time, and for the following three hours he found himself in the home of an antagonist to Chassidism, where he suffered spiritual anguish. [617]

“In many places, nevertheless, people gather for a farbrengen on the eve of the 19th as well – and may chassidic blessings light upon them.

“In general, the farbrengens of any city are arranged in either of two ways:

  1. they can be spread out in many locations, so that people who would not travel far afield should also participate; or
  2. all those interested can meet at one location, for `In a multitude of people is the King’s glory.’ [618] Such a farbrengen should be steered by the venerable elders and the men of stature within the community.

“Abundant quantity or superior quality? [619] Their relative merits are the subject of a classic debate. [620] For comparable cases see: Shabbos 127a ; Megillah 3a (in Tosafos; Avos 3:15, and see Peirush HaMishnayos there); Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 21; and other sources. These are obviously not exact parallels to our case, but space does not permit further elaboration.

“At any rate, I would recommend that on the first night, the eve of the 19th, farbrengens should be held in various places (where the following night’s gathering should be announced), and the next evening all concerned should assemble in one place.

“It goes without saying that what matters ultimately is that people should rouse themselves and `resolve to set aside fixed times for the study of Torah in public, both its revealed planes (nigleh) and its hidden dimensions (Chassidus), and strengthen the spiritual lifestyle of chassidim in a brotherly spirit.'” [621]

Now that doesn’t explain the helicopters, but could be a reason for the gathering.


6 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox: Nocturnal Activity on West Street

  1. rowan on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 12:17 pm
  2. I noticed this last night when I got home around 10pm. A tent, lots of lights, school buses with Hebrew lettering and a lot of Hasidic men walking away in groups. I believe it was some kind of gathering or event. Since the Hasidic community generally segregates by gender, it’s doubtful you would see any women or girls.

  3. Eli1 on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 12:36 pm
  4. This was a Satmar celebration commemorating Grand Rabbi Joel Teitlebaums rescue from a concentration camp. It’s too big for any one synagogue and generally held in some hall. It’s always held on the hebrew date 21 kislev and you can google a hebrew english calendar if you want to see when that comes out to every year. And some of us are on the internet. 🙂

  5. ms nomer on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 1:59 pm
  6. I have seen massive gatherings of Hasidic men before, on the waterfront side of West Side, usually near Quay. I can’t tell whether it’s social or religious (and to be truthful, there isn’t a major distinction within that community) but of the two times I’ve seen this in the past (the first time being at least 7-8 years ago), it’s been men and boys only, with massive floodlights set up as far as I could see. The first time, there was crazy camera-flash action going when some guy stepped out of his SUV. No idea who he was but the crowd went wild, as the saying goes.

  7. missheather on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 3:41 pm
  8. Thanks for the 411 Eli1— and Happy Hannukah!

  9. Eli1 on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 5:56 pm
  10. Sorry, C
    Wrong neighborhood, wrong day. Crown Heights (where Lubavitch hasidim are) is on the other side of Bed-Stuy. They have nothing in Williamsburg besides a small synagogue on N6.
    And the hebrew date starts the night before and ends at sunset. Which on Monday night was around 4:30
    Google Kuf Alef, Kuf Aleph, Or Chuf aleph kislev. (different pronunciations/spelling).
    Thanks for the Good wishes Heather. Happy Holidays to you to.

  11. missheather on Tue, 8th Dec 2009 6:16 pm
  12. Thanks for the clarification and holiday wishes, Eli1. Truth be told, I am more or less an agnostic— and as such I suspect I speak for many when I write that I would like to see the spirit of brother/sisterhood that comes with this, the holiday season, become a 365/24/7 affair. What’s more, the antisemitic/homophobic material turning up in Greenpoint of late would certainly explain the heightened police presence.

    The way I see it, we’re all human beings and as such have a lot more in common than differences. We should be focusing on common interests and helping each other. It depresses me to no end that people are wasting their time vandalizing/blighting my neighborhood with this trash.

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