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)

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