The CNN religious blog recently ran an article about a Hasidic walking tour in Brooklyn. Hasidic Jews are generally a fairly closed community. They are deeply religious, many devoting many hours of the day to religious ritual and study. Most of their stores are locally owned. And the negativity that comes from mainstream entertainment and news is commonly something to be avoided.
The drawback of a closed community, however, is that outsiders often know little of the people beyond common stereotypes, which are often erroneous. Studying Hasidic culture is certainly one way of learning, but, honestly, how many people are going to bother picking up a book on the subject? Book study is also a bit stagnant.
Enter Rabbi Beryl Epstein and his three hour tour of Hasidic Crown Heights. Here people can watch and interact with local Hasidic Jews, see how they live, and learn about what they avoid and what they don’t: for example, you might spot a Hasidic man talking on an iPhone. Neither their avoidance of television nor general conservatism should be equated to an avoidance of technology.