Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scenes from Satmar Funeral

ROL: .........With police holding shut the front gates from inside the cemetery, the sea of black-coated men relented their great shove to get inside, retreating into informal groups along the cemetery wall. Many smoked cigarettes. It seemed every other man was dialing, gazing down at or speaking into a cell phone.Of the few who tried to scale the 7-foot wall, most were met with defeat and scraped palms from the rough cinderblock wall topped with barbed wire.Most were younger men in their late teens and early 20s. As one would try, older men would turn and watch. When failure ultimately struck, their elders would laugh or turn to their friends with a smirk.With all the shops closed in Kiryas Joel, food and water and cigarettes were hard to come by. Those with smokes were quickly descended on in the crowds. But soda and chips were more accessible. A small building just outside the cemetery wall held bathrooms and two vending machines. As the crowd at the cemetery dispersed soon after sun-up, the table inside the building was packed with empty chips bags and dozens of emptied Mayim Chaim Cola, a kosher soda brand.A group of Kiryas Joel teens milling about the cemetery before the funeral were like any gang of American adolescents. They snickered when men accidentally stepped in dung dropped by the police horses and they passionately spoke of their favorite singer, Lipa Schmeltzer, an irreverent Jewish crooner who just released a new album.“He is the best, the best. I love him,” said a 14-year-old boy who identified himself as Weiss. His friends mumbled in agreement......
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