Friday, January 19, 2007

Moshe Aryeh Friedman and the Magic Bedsheet - part 2

It is impossible for a child of ten years of age to be committed to Creedmoor. However, the Friedman parents and his many frustrated teachers, babysitters, and counselors needed a solution for little Moshe Aryeh, and fast.

So when Reb Velvel suggested Creedmoor, Moshe Aryeh's mother was only too happy to listen, and indeed she called the august institution to inquire as to whether there was a berth for her addled spawn.

While the answer was of course negative, it so happened that the medical director of Creedmoor at the time was Dr Michael Weinberg, an eminently overqualified heir to a building fortune, and himself a frum Yid of Hungarian origin with a very warm feeling toward Chassidus. So, Dr Weinberg agreed to accept Moshe Aryeh Friedman into a medical study aimed at assisting children with antisocial behavior patterns to somehow integrate into society.

This meant that every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday after school, Moshe Aryeh Friedman would be taken to a padded cell in Creedmoor for a few hours, where Dr Weinberg and his team tried to figure out what could be done to turn Moshe into "half a mensch, or eppes nisht azoy a vilder ferd," as one of his enervated teachers put it so eloquently.

Of course, when dealing with one as addled as Moshe Aryeh Friedman, success is not a given. And the treatments were given no chance of success, so that in essence Creedmoor was simply an after school day care center for "Freaky Freedy," a nickname that even the staff used for their unwanted charge.

And Freeky lived up to his name. He especially enjoyed drawing Zionist flags on the padding of his cell, and then tearing up the padding while shouting "Death to Zionism! Zionism and Judaism are direct opposites! Down with Zionist murderers!" Then, there were his myriad scams which the undersized terror carried out among the underpaid and under-documented maintenance staff.

For instance, the simplest scam was the cigarette scam. Moshe Aryeh Friedman was only 11 years old when he began this game, but credulous Mexican and Honduran janitorial assistants lined up to pay him a mere 50 cents for a pack of cigarettes "straight fin der Indianer reservation in Vilyemsburgh!" Since Moshe had driven his long suffering father to chain smoking long ago, he had no trouble obtaining Marlboro packages, in which he placed one piece of paper wrapped around chopped up rubberbands. He then resealed the packages with scotch tape and distributed them to his dupes, with instructions to "plent der cigarette in der erd end you grow a cigarette tree in tzvye months!" Given the low level of sophistication among his customers, they eagerly believed him, and when the trees did not grow in two months, he simply sold each dupe a half bottle of hydrogen peroxide for another fifty cents and told them to water their plants with "heiliger vasser fin der Rebbe."

And this was trumped only by his first welfare scam, successfully completed before he reached his 12th birthday..(part 3 coming after Shabbos).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Moshe Aryeh Friedman and the Magic Bedsheet

Moshe Aryeh Friedman was born about 35 years ago to a respectable family in Brooklyn. But just as Yitzchak had a son named Esav, the Friedman parents never saw much nachas from their son Moshe Aryeh.

Short of stature and cursed with an idiotic facial expression, little Moshe Aryeh was the laughingstock of his class. So, he went out of his way to get attention by dedicating his cheider and mesivta career to one issue and one issue only - the destruction of Zionism.

As far back as first grade, the lad ran a creative scam in cahoots with a local grocer. Since he was tiny, he hardly needed to eat the snacks and food that his mother sent with him to school - and since he was dishonest as could be, he stole "nosherei" from his brothers and sisters as well. So, he would return his loot to the grocer, who ran his store as a front for various and nefarious activities ranging from slumlording to fencing, in exchange for something that was considered dangerous contraband in his school - namely, a Zionist flag.

Little "Freaky Freedy," as he was soon nicknamed, did not know that the grocer was just cutting paper Zionist flags out of old "Keren Kayemet" brochures while he sold the returned food at full price in his slovenly hole in the wall grocery. Nor did he care, for he had ammunition enough to pull off two more scams.

One was known as "Pin the Flag on the Teacher," in which Freaky would attach the flag to his teacher's lapel using a safety pin. The unwitting educator would, ideally, then go out into the street with a flag on his lapel, subjecting him to taunts of "Shygetz Aross," in his most definitely anti-Zionist community. Then, little Moshe Aryeh would follow, offering the teacher information as to who pinned the flag on his lapel in exchange for a dollar. Only once did this childish prank ever work, but the furious victim, Reb Velvel Weinberger, would exact a very harsh punishment on little Moshe Aryeh the second time he attempted the same prank. Then, there was "Glue the Flag to the Office Door," in which Freaky would glue the flag to the door of the principal's office, disappear, and then try to extort money from fellow students in exchange for not moisering them as the culprits. This was even less successful, as few feared the diminutive Friedman boy, to put it mildly.

But Reb Velvel was a very well read man by the standards of his isolated community, and he recognized Moshe Aryeh Friedman for what he was and is - a mentally ill, undisciplined sociopath. He was also a neighbor of the Friedmans, and one day soon after Moshe Aryeh's second attempt to turn him into a Zionist flagpole, he came to speak to Moshe Aryeh's parents about removing him from school, and indeed from the community.

When the Friedmans heard of a place called Creedmoor, in faraway Bellerose, Queens, they were only too happy to listen.

(part 2 coming soon)