"The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen" by Isaac Blum, Chapters 1–3

October 25, 2022
Following a wave of antisemitic attacks, fifteen-year-old Orthodox Jew Hoodie Rosen faces the ire of his family and community when he falls in love with a non-Jewish girl.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–3, Chapters 4–7, Chapters 8–10, Chapters 11–15
I thought it was strange behavior, but maybe gentile girls danced for their dogs all the time.
It was hard to tell from that distance, but when she looked up at me—or at the school—I reflexively looked away, up at the board, at Rabbi Moritz.
The contrast between the girl and the rebbe couldn’t have been starker.
He was still working on his cereal, but he paused to gesticulate with his plastic spoon, spraying little drops of milk across his desk.
She could have been just a figment of my imagination, a physical manifestation of my thoughts about Tu B’Av, what my mind thought a dancing tribeless grape-harvest girl would look like today.
When I took walks, I always liked to wear my suit jacket and hat. I wanted to look sharp and distinguished. “Respectable” was the word my dad always used.
Yeshiva students aren’t allowed to talk to girls, let alone girls dressed like this one.
But unhyphenated Anna could have been a Jew at least, if a secular one.
Hopefully Anna-Marie would come too, and she could mock me incessantly while I sweated through layer after layer of clothing.
As always, he prayed more intensely than anyone else, bowing up and down, the fringes of his blue-and-white tzitzis dancing from their spot at his waist, his prayer book pressed up against his nose.
You can’t get in trouble for over piety. You could sacrifice a goat for Passover, and the rabbis would say, as the blood pooled at their feet, as the animal’s dying legs gave a final shuddering kick, “Well, the boy has dedication.”
If we view the spitting as a repudiation of the unbeliever’s vanity, then I can justify it, but if we see it simply as a protest of medieval persecution, then its foundation is in secular tradition, rather than in Jewish law itself, in which case the transmutation to mere pantomime is acceptable.
Zippy is basically omniscient, because sure enough, my father stood at the edge of the site, staring at a big mound of dirt.
My dad stood looking at a dirt mound next to an idle piece of construction equipment.
“Their bigotry is boundless,” he said.
“They’re craven, Yehuda. They’re blinded by their hatred of us. We fight the same battle, over and over, generation after generation, millennium after millennium.”
In Ukraine, pogroms had swept through my great-grandparents’ shtetl town. The Russians had killed many of the Jewish men and forced the survivors into armed service.
My great-grandfather had cut off his own toes to avoid military conscription.
There was no doubt: dead Jew. I smiled at her, my predecessor.
Her hypothesis was confirmed, because the ensuing cries were distinctly Rivkian, ambulance-like wails only she could produce.
Moshe Tzvi Gutman is a polarizing figure. I’m polarized by him. On the one hand, I don’t like him, because he’s not a very nice person, and he’s crude and embarrassing to be around, and he has trouble picking up basic social cues, and he has a superior attitude about just about everything, which is ill-fitting because there really isn’t much that he’s good at, outside of Talmud study. On the other hand, he’s my best friend in the world.
That’s the Written Torah, and it was presented to Moses freshly printed and collated.
And then those people told other people about it, and it was passed on orally from generation to generation, which, if you ask me, is not the best way to preserve indispensable knowledge from God himself.
Because it’s based on old stories these guys’ dads told them, written in a combination of antiquated languages, and missing all of its semicolons, it is a confusing document.
It’s a giant maze of Jewish laws, rules, thoughts, considerations, ruminations.
Anna-Marie’s attire was sparse again, with exposed arms and legs.
In my community, we’ve got this thing called tznius, rules of modesty that she was breaking in like eight different ways.
Anna-Marie had a poise and self-confidence I couldn’t match, and it had made me feel vulnerable.
She wasn’t some kind of angelic apparition. She was a human person, just like me.
Outside, the late summer sun was oppressive.
Now and then a masochist jogged by, panting like Borneo.
I couldn’t decide which part was more unlikely: the girl who wasn’t Jewish, or the activity, which was painstakingly erasing antisemitic graffiti from gravestones.
“We’re not trying to pillage. We just want to find a place to live.”
But it might have just been my guilty conscience, because when I looked again, there was nothing there.
He had a quiet, peaceful tone that made you forget the outside world, and the modular building you were standing in.
The walls were unadorned, save for a portrait of the Chofetz Chaim on the wall.
Over the years, I have seen many young Jews internalize the loathing they receive from the outside world. That self-hate can be a difficult affliction to fight against, but it can be overcome.
Over the years, I have seen many young Jews internalize the loathing they receive from the outside world. That self-hate can be a difficult affliction to fight against, but it can be overcome.
“I just want to be clear about which urges we’re talking about.”
Corporal ones.”
A small crowd—enough for a minyan—had formed in the hall.

Create a new Word List