April 12, 2011
Shmuly is the least typical Chasidic Jew you will ever meet. The guy’s an anomaly. He will never cut his beard, and he always wears a yarmulke, no matter where he goes, but he will go anywhere. I mean, you can find him backstage at a Paul Oakenfold concert, or ranking third place in a 5K run to cure cancer. This picture of him is from a jewelry line that loves Shmuly’s look and insisted that he be in their catalog. He was just asked to be in a Pink music video but turned it down because it would have required him to lie undressed in bed with Pink and, although he’s not square, for him it wasn’t that funny a concept.
Shmuly installs high-end audio equipment for a company he owns. He does very well and meets a lot of interesting contacts through his work. I went to a Coldplay concert with my wife. We sat in the very last row of the stadium. He sat in the very first ... and then went back stage to say hi to the band. I hate him.
The strangest thing about Shmuly is that as successful as he is, he still lives with his grandma in the Valley. He doesn’t feel the need to have his own place. He’s waiting for marriage, and, in the meantime, his grandma’s place is just fine with him. She cooks for him, does his laundry ... and, luckily, he’s religious, because there’s no chance he’s bringing girls back to his grandma’s place and trying to get them to quietly go upstairs with him without waking her.
Shmuly loves people. I like going out with him, because I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, too. Everyone who meets him likes him. He goes to clubs and bars, and by the time he heads home, half the place is high-fiving him. He collects numbers, he makes friends, and he’s so disarming that he has a phone full of hot girls’ contact information. But none are marriage material.
Shmuly’s in a tough position because he’s a Chasidic Jew with a foot in the secular world. He won’t waver on his religious beliefs, but he loves to go out, to meet people of all faiths, and to experience life. He went to Burning Man last summer — and while most people brought hallucinogenic mushrooms, he brought tefillin. Yet he still ran shirtless through the village and drank enough alcohol to fill a hot tub. Whomever he marries needs to be a religious Jew who doesn’t mind that her husband marches to the tune of his own shofar. She needs to be able to make latkes and vodkas. And she will need to get used to the fact that wherever they go, people from all over the city will shout out as they pass by, “Shmuly!”