On my flight to Israel I had the good fortune to fly with a number of Black hats. I have, over the years, heard many complaints about the black hats. I am one who prefers to be kind and polite to any person or group until I have reason to think otherwise. In this case, I now have reason to think ill of this community.
Before we boarded, I noticed a large number of black hats were going to be flying with my family and me on our recent flight to Israel from New York. By the time I arrived from my connecting flight there were no seats to be had. My wife and I sat on the floor making a circle as best we could so my 9 month-old son could crawl a little before we boarded the plane. Not far behind us was an elderly couple, one half of which was using a walker. She walked up to a row of seats that were occupied by young adult black hats. They ignored her and did not offer her a seat. That was my first experience with the general rudeness of this crowd, but it would not be my last. Soon, the boarding call was sounded.
The black hats crowded into the queue for boarding, even though EVERYONE knows that boarding starts with first class and proceeds from there by row. I am not aware of a single airline, not even El Al, that allows black hats to board first. Several airline staff members had to spend six or seven minutes herding them with words, gestures and the like before these people moved out of the way. I mean herding, the staff nearly had to push them. The staff called for first class boarding and the members of the airline’s frequent flier club, these are the people who actually paid to go first. After the first class had boarded the black hats once again crowded into the queue as if somehow they were entitled to board next. Again, the airline staff spent five or six minutes herding them out of the way. My family and I boarded next as people with children under four were allowed to board before the boarding by rows. There were several black hat families with young children, none of them boarded. After we boarded the plane the black hats finally began to enter and slowly made their way to their seats as their rows were called.
My infant son was standing on his mother’s lap and holding onto the seat in front of him for balance. A young teenage boy placed his fedora in the overhead compartment and then began to slide into the row of seats in front of us. He looked at my son then proceeded to sit in the seat. He immediately pressed the button to lay the chair back and slammed the seat back into my son’s head. My son screamed and cried for several minutes. Accidents happen, and when they do, we apologize. He did not care at all. I wanted to yell at him but it is unwise to confront people on an airplane. I decided not to say anything.
During the flight the black hats refused to remain in their seats. When the captain turned on the fasten seat belt lights the stewardesses would make repeated announcements in Hebrew and still no one listen to them.
It is important to note that many of these orthodox black hats refuse to work and rely on their wives both to work to support their family and to raise their children. I despise this practice, as do most decent people, but I never realized how dispicable their attitude was until I noticed several black hats looking at me funny when I was walking up and down the aisles comforting my son when he had been crying. I am his father, I had equal responsibility for creating him and I have equal responsibility for raising him. They seemed to think this was a woman’s work. Moreover, my wife had taken a middle seat, and I an aisle seat, so it was more convenient for both of us that I be the one to get up. I only saw women comforting babies on the flight. A young man of six or seven threw up on the flight while his mother was away. His father took him to the lavatory and acted frustrated as if this was not his problem.
I can understand how some people might have a negative opinion of Jews if Bernie Madoff and these black hats are their primary experience of Judaism.