hasid.jpgAbe Karpman wouldn’t hold Natalie Portmans hand, but then again, for this Hasid holding his wifes hand in public is taboo as well. The father of three was set to star in “New York, I Love You” which is a film weaving together several short stories about finding love in the five boroughs. However after his neighbors protested he had to withdraw in fear for his family and their position in the religious community of Williamsburg.

“I am backing out of the movie,” said Karpen, a kitchen cabinet salesman. “It’s not acceptable in my community. It’s a lot of pressure I am getting. They [the rabbis] didn’t like the idea of a Hasidic guy playing in Hollywood. I have my kids in religious schools and the rabbi called me over yesterday and said in order for me to keep my kids in the school I have to do what they tell me and back out,” Karpen said.

In a community where watching television and going to the movies is forbidden, to actually be in one, would be more than just social suicide, you would be cutting yourself off. When threatened with having your children removed from school, losing your job and livelihood, even walking beside the lovely Natalie might lose it’s appeal.


-This film has a roster including Zach Braff, Mira Nair, Elijah Wood, Nick Nolte, Kevin Bacon, Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen.

-It takes place in NY, the loved borough of all (unless you are the girl in the scrunchy)

-Scarlett will be directing her own short piece for the movie, rather than appearing in Woody’s.

– Reporting by Nina Safar

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  • “I have to do what they tell me”….this is Holocaust ghetto mentality. They vote how they are told as well. If this guy didn’t have the balls to say, “Rebbe, what I do with my family is my business, this is still America”, then he doesn’t deserve to be in the movie and I hope they get a goy to play his part and the guy wins an Oscar.
    The peer pressure in the Ortho communities gives people no freedom of choice and it’s disgusting and not what God intended.
    My last friend in Plifton just gave in to wearing a sheitel, there are officially NO MOTHER’s that don’t wear wigs in this town now.

  • does anyone know how in the world he got cast in the film in the first place? did he go out of his way to get into the movie (like go to a casting call or something) or did he get “discovered” in a knish shop?

  • regarding chutzpahs post, many people who are religious and living in an orthodox community choose to do so. Whether it’s to be close to their family, because they were raised to be that way, or because they enjoy the lifestyle and believe it to be the path for them, they choose to live it. Meaning, they choose to listen to the Rabbi who is telling them what to do.

  • Missus, they choose to leave their brains at the shul doorstep, something we always accuse the “goymim” of doing when they listen to the Pope…

    I’m finally going to say it, it’s only taken me 6 years to admit: Orthodox Judaism has become a CULT that is nearly impossible to leave.


  • The point is whether they really get unbiasedly presented an alternative to the frum lifestyle, and that is not the case. Many of my friends that chose to be “frei” were well-aware that they became social outcasts and personae non gratae at family and community functions.

    The Amish have got something they call rumshpringa (= jumping around); Amish youths ages 16 to 21 move out of their homes into secular environments, get an education there etc., and after that time they get to decide whether they want to live an Amish or a secular lifestyle. 80% opt for the Amish lifestyle. No force, no threat of perdition; everybody’s happy.

  • chutzpah: “If this guy didn’t have the balls to say, “Rebbe, what I do with my family is my business, this is still America”, then he doesn’t deserve to be in the movie”

    How can you say that someone doesn’t deserve to be in a movie because they choose to respect their rabbis (and trust their guidance- even when they don’t agree with them)? He won’t tell his Rebbe to back off and let him decide what he wants to do, because he wants to keep his place in the Jewish community. It isn’t a matter of guts or balls. If he wanted to leave he could, but he doesn’t want to.
    The whole idea that some people deserve to be in movies is
    pathetic. What about the hundreds of other actors who seem not to deserve to be in movies? Are you going to protest against them too? Do they not have the moral fiber or high standard of character that you personally require of them?

    The author of this article has his/her own extended interpretation of the story that is based on a prejudice that hassidic Jews are trapped in their community. There is no indication that this man is staying in the community because he wants to keep his job. It is more likely that he values the community and wouldn’t want to be removed from it for personal reasons.

  • Chutzpah,

    In orthodox Judaism people listen to their rabbis because they trust their judgement. It is not because they have no brains or guts–they simply trust that G-d graces them with the knowledge to guide their congregants.

    Also, your comment that “Orthodox Judaism is a CULT which is nearly impossible to leave” only goes to show that you have no idea what orthodox Judaism is like–you have no idea how many orthodox jews leave the fold.

  • I have to disagree with you Jp. Social pressure, bombardment by parents and Rabbis, and restrictions make it difficult for young adults to remove themselves from orthodox Jewry.
    Many people just choose the path of least resistance and eventually get sucked into the system.
    Guilt is also a factor: many people feel guilty when they become non religious. Not because they have come to the decision that they are doing wrong, but because from a very young age they have been told that going ‘off the derech’ is the worst thing in the world.
    Frankly, I don’t think you know one bit more about orthodox Judaism’s than chutzpah.

  • I think that this story is sad–because I would really have liked to see an authentic respectful film treatment of Hasidic life (read: not with Renee Zellweger in a lead role). I posted about this last week at Beliefnet’s Idol Chatter, and it’s generated some interesting comments about Hollywood’s treatment of serious topics, especially vis-a-vis Biblical or religious stories/themes.

  • Loneman,

    I don’t know about you, but I’m an orthodox teenager–trust me on this: Plenty of people go off.

    I think I can safely assume from your usage of the phrase “off the derech” that you’re a frum Jew. But are you an adult/live in a very jewish place? I am surprised to hear that you don’t think so many people go off, and either of those would account for this “blindspot.”

  • White shirts, blue shirts, striped shirts, shaven, no peyos? Or the shaven yet peyos unrestrained fashion-wise type?

  • Blue shirt (button down, BTW), no long chassidish-like peyos, I shave, my shirt usually untucked.

    I guess clothes really do make the man… 😛