Multicultural scene common in Fleischmanns

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By Joe Moskowitz
Each year, shortly before the Fourth of July, “The Men in Black” return to Fleischmanns. Male Hasidic Jews wear black when they are outside because in the 1800s Rabbis felt bright colors might create resentment among non-Jews, and that could lead to violence. The Hasidic women often wear black or dark blue. Their money is the same color green as everyone else’s.

Some of them spend money on domestic help. Their religion prohibits them from performing even some of the most basic tasks on their Sabbath, Friday evening through Saturday evening, so they hire people to do the cleaning and other housework. The people they hire may surprise some local residents. If you see one or two teenage boys who are dressed in western style clothing, they are the hired hands. They are mostly from Chechnya or Uzbekistan and they are Muslim. Religion and international politics are not factors. It’s just a summer job. It’s something that started in Fleischmanns several years ago. No one seems to know why or when. It just is.

There aren’t many places in Fleischmanns where the Hasidic people are likely to spend money. Mexican restaurants don’t keep Kosher. Sam Gill of Sam’s Country Store say he sells some lottery tickets, and bottled water and soda, but there isn’t that much they are allowed to buy. Lalo Patel owns the Fleischmanns Supermarket. He says they never used to buy much in his store, but that changed after the seasonal Kosher market in the theater building shut down. He now sells kosher foods and snacks with brands that are familiar to them.

Perhaps the most unlikely Hasidic handout in Fleischmanns is the Zoom Art Gallery. It is across the street from the Delaware Court and Flagstone motels, two facilities that attract large numbers of Hasidic guests. Gloria Zolla-Molloy says she openly courts their business. She says she sells earrings and some other items their religion allows them to buy, and offers Wi-Fi for a nominal fee, but it is the artwork itself that gets the most interesting reaction. She says the women in particular are fascinated. It is something new to them as the only thing hanging on their wall at home may be a portrait of a Rabbi. That may be the only artwork their husband gave them permission to hang. Recently Zoom Gallery hosted a show by David Sears. He summers in Fleischmanns and is an Hasidic artist and illustrator of Hasidic children’s books.

Zolla-Molloy says they would probably be turned off by the current exhibit as it portrays nudity and has some scenes of war. But Molloy says it is fascinating and rewarding to see how summers in Fleischmanns are creating a new way for some of its visitors to look at the world.