A non-Jewish coworker who lives near Kiryas Joel asked me yesterday why Hasidic Jews have “the curls”. He thought it is so G-d can pull them up to heaven. Another coworker who moved to the same neighborhood told me he and a friend from Pennsylvania who knows nothing about Jews spent the weekend “Jew watching” at Home Depot in complete confusion as to the whole lifestyle (I think I am the most “Jewish” person this non-native-NYer has ever had contact with, so K.Y. is pretty much another planet to him).
Next question was whether Hasidic Jews have TVs. He thought they do, but I dispelled that myth and when asked admitted to not having one myself. To the average American, living without a TV is tantamount to saying you live in a log-cabin and read by candlelight near your wood burning stove, because you obviously are not part of the real 21st century world.
How to explain Kiryas Joel in a few simple sentences to your average American Joe is quite a challenge… Anyone have suggestions?