Heshy uses the word “frum” a lot. It means religious aka Orthodox.
Heshy: “I’m going to shut off my phone to conserve energy. I’m in Northern California now and everything in environmental now. I went to shul today and said, this is the first time I’ve been to a kiddish in six months that didn’t have biodegradable forks.
“Last night I went to Happy Minyan. This morning I went to Bnai David and then I went to Happy Minyan for kiddish and then I ate at Rabbi Yonah’s for lunch. I went to Mincha-Maariv at Aish. I wanted to hit Young Israel of Century City because I heard there were some young ladies there. I heard it’s a little snootish.”
Luke: “Anything strike you as interesting?”
Heshy: “The urinals are incredibly powerful at Bnai David. You flush that thing and you stand back because you are scared the whole wall is going to come down. Very impressive because usually the newer plumbing isn’t as strong as the older plumbing.”
“I’ve only been to LA once since moved to Northern California 14 months ago… I wanted to get my frummy on [there’s not much Orthodox Judaism in the San Francisco Bay Area]. I haven’t had kosher pizza in about six months.”
“I’m Orthodox but I make out with chicks. Sue me.”
“My family has become embarrassed about what I do. Not my immediate family, but my father was at a couple of simchas (Jewish celebrations), and relatives were saying, ‘It’s not so tznius (modest). It’s not so frum (religious).’ Other cousins would say, ‘What’s wrong? He’s telling the truth. You got a problem with that? He’s not chareidi (fervently Orthodox).’
“So I asked Reuven Blau, ‘How do you deal with that?’ Do you know who he is? He writes for the New York Post and he writes stuff like you would write for the New York Post if you get up to that level. He writes about Tropper and Rubashkin and all that stuff. He’s a frum guy. He lives in Brooklyn. He says that people at shul push him. They spit at him. They curse at him. I don’t get that… People don’t take me seriously. I don’t get that much hate mail. No one has said really nasty things to me.”
Luke: “When are you debuting the Mikveh night package?”
Heshy: “I like that.”
Heshy works as a cook in a kosher restaurant. “The Lord has delivered me into this profession. You’re working with your hands and you’re working with people but it is also silent.”
“I’m 29 and now I know what I want to do. I’m a transient unsettled guy and it’s an industry that is transient and unsettled. This is the longest I’ve ever held a full-time job.”
“The Bay Area is not really home to a lot of FFBs (frum from birth) and mainstream Orthodoxy. I miss it. It’s nice walking down the streets and there are women in skirts and sheitlach (wigs for married Orthodox women). All the little kids are dressed the same. They have payos.”
“The people are incredibly friendly and down to earth. Everyone has a really firm handshake. And they’re not baal teshuvas. Baal teshuvas have firm handshakes, but when an FFB has a firm handshake, you’re obviously not from New York. In New York they give you this [limp] thing. Here people say ‘Gut Shabbos’ to you. I got an aliyah today at Bnai David. People invited me out to lunch. It’s a big freakin’ shul, about 350 people there, but people knew I was a guest. I like that.”
Luke: “Do you drink a lot of intoxicating beverages on a regular basis?”
Heshy: “I’ve gotten into red wine. I think it’s a Northern California thing. It’s a whole food culture I’ve been introduced into.”
“Part of the reason I don’t complain as much is that when you live in the West, there’s not as much to complain about. People here are nice and peaceful.”
“I almost have to force myself to get pissed off and cynical to deliver to the fans.”
“That’s why my writing has taken a more existential tilt.”
“When I moved to Northern California, I started meeting a lot of different Jews. It’s not all frum Jews. I meet Orthodox Jews who don’t keep kosher and I meet non-Orthodox Jews who do keep kosher. I meet Reform Jews who wear tzitzit and their wife goes to the mikveh. In the Bay Area, it is perfectly normal for a frum guy to be friends with all types of Jews and go to all sorts of events. You don’t get that on the East Coast.”
“I’m 20 pounds skinnier than our last interview.”
This transformation has been caused — not by AIDS and fornication — but by biking and hiking.
Heshy: “I’ve always dreamed that I would get a job where I wouldn’t have to work until night time. I start work at 3 p.m. I get up and do some writing, I do my praise the Lord, and I get on my bike and ride.”
“The Bay Area has five or six different [Orthodox] communities and I go to each one and get a different flavor every week.”
“I’ve broken out of my East Coast mentality. There’s a lot more self-reflection. I’m more withdrawn. On the East, I was bored with life but I had a lot of friends. In the West, I have a lot of friends but none of them are weekday friends. I’ve been hanging out with this girl. I told her, ‘You’re my first weekday friends.’
“I’ve gotten into backpacking and going into the woods for days on my own. I was always scared to do that, but…”
Luke: “Do they often find dead people after you make these?”
Heshy: “Not at all. A lot of women tied up but no dead people.”
“When people are discussing things, it brings a deeper aspect. I don’t like to moderate comments. The only reason I [closed comments on one post] were because the gays got very pissed off at me. I watched your video. I know Mr. Ford’s thoughts on the gays.”
“A lot of frum gays fear for their lives. They fear violence perpetrated against them.”
Luke: “I don’t know of any frum gays murdered. Do you?”
Heshy: “Not frum, but gay Jews in Tel Aviv.”
“The best thing for the frum gay community would be if a rosh yeshiva came out of the closet. Imagine if Rav Elyashiv came out of the closet? That would be awesome. He could say, ‘But I never acted on it!'”
Luke: “Give me some more highlights and lowlights from the past year?”
Heshy: “I haven’t met any girls. That’s been a lowlight. I haven’t really been trying. I’m having so much fun with work and with play. I forgot that I’m getting old and single.”
Luke: “When are you going to come out?”
Heshy: “I’m interested in girls. I’m asexual until I’m getting some. If you talk to a lot of men who are in relationships, they masturbate more because they’re having sex.”
Luke: “The Talmud says that the penis is the one [organ] that the more you give way to it, the more it demands. [Starve it and it shrivels.]”
Heshy: “I feel that way about my involvement with women. I love companionship but I am so content with my own company, I find I get bored really easily with people.”
“A lot of these single frum women, you wonder what they do for fun?”
Luke: “They say Tehillim (Psalms).”
Heshy: “Tehillim can be fun if you’re stoned.”
Luke: “A lot of people in the chatroom are concerned that you are committing the sin of Onanism way too much.”
Heshy: “I’m really an infrequent Onan person. In college when I was getting some, it was a Holocaust all the time. Every day.
“These days I’m almost like a peacekeeper. There’s no genocide. I’m very infrequent in that department. That’s because I’m busy. When you’re busy and your life is going well, you don’t even think about that stuff. Honestly, I don’t even want to have sex. I just want someone to cuddle with and go hiking with. My idea of marriage is not sexual-based relationship. That’s been a complaint from women that I’m not…”
Luke: “Sexual enough?”
Heshy: “No. Too romantic, which may seem odd to some of you people who might think I’m a violent guy. I like to sit around drinking tea and listening to music by the fire place. I don’t like to go out clubbing. I’ve never liked picking up women. Parties are not my forte.”
“A lot of the stuff I talk about and make myself seem whatever, it’s all exaggeration. Twenty percent of me comes out on my blog and the other thing is locked in my subconscious waiting to come out when Luke Ford tries to use his tactics.”
Luke: “So you’re not a violent person?”
Heshy: “No. Not at all. I’m too peaceful for women. You’d be surprised.”
Luke: “They want more violence, you’ve found?”
Heshy: “Not that I would know these things, but some ladies like it a little rough. One of the frum girls I dated, we didn’t do much, [she complained], ‘You never throw me against the wall.’ I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
Luke: “Do you think it is inappropriate to talk about Torah while you’re making love?”
Heshy: “I don’t know. What if you think of a good chidush (insight)?”
“I think of my best posts on Shabbos but just before sundown, the angel hits me on the upper lip and I forget everything. I used to write all of my best posts on Saturday night.”
“The crapper for me isn’t a good idea generator because I’m always reading something.”
Luke: “Not holy works, I trust?”
Heshy: “There’s a book called The Comic Torah. It’s blasphemous. It’s awesomely apikorsidic. It’s the only Torah you can read on the toilet. Moses is like this gangster black guy. God is like this hot woman. When Moses says to her, ‘Show me your glory,’ she takes her clothes off. Yaakov is this stately old man with a mustache.”
“In the west, the rabbis are very into the power of blogging. In the east, they’re ignorant of blogging and the good that can come out of it.”
“A lot of rabbis before I come to shul will know I’m coming. My hosts will tell them. They’ll show me around. It’s almost like they want me to write about them.
“Today I went to Bnai David and nobody recognized me. So I can probably make a very honest post about it. I really liked the shul. It’s incredibly boring. I felt like I walked into Queens, but everyone is very friendly. People told me I’d like it because it is very left-wing. I thought it was centrist.”
“I don’t go up to people and say who I am. I used to do that.”
“Somebody at the RCA asked me. I might speak at the convention now about disenfranchised Modern Orthodox Jew. When you gain a little legitimacy and mainstream publications write about you, it’s different than when you are up-and-coming.”
“I’d be interested to sit down with a roundtable of rabbis to hear their thoughts.”
Luke: “How enthused are you for blogging?”
Heshy: “It’s been up-and-down. I’m sure people can tell. This past week, I was not in the mood for blogging at all. The weather was so nice. I was totally like, ‘I’m not blogging. It’s 70 degrees out.'”
“I was trying to explain to a fan and a guest poster named Eli Fink, we had lunch on Friday, it’s hard for me to write how I used to write because I am not cynical about my Jewish community. In New York, the Jews are shmucks. It’s a really sh—- place to live as a Jew. Everyone complains. No one complains in the Bay Area. No one complains in LA. I have never been at a meal where people talk bad about other people. There’s no politics. My fringe-self in New York was based upon I’d walk into shul in a blue shirt and everyone would look at me. People would tell me to get up from their seat. No one would tell me where a siddur is. Nobody says ‘Gut Shabbos!'”
Luke: “What’s the difference between East Coast humor and West Coast humor?”
Heshy: “For the frum? The frum East Coast is much different. The people on the East Coast, even if they are not frum, they understand it, but on the West Coast, they are totally removed from frumkeit.”
Luke: “How much sex appeal does your blog have to women?”
Heshy: “More than I thought. Women like guys who are open with their emotions.”
Luke: “Do they get angry when you refuse to relinquish your honor?”
Heshy: “What do you mean?”
Luke: “You say, ‘Lady, HaShem says, no sex until marriage.'”
Heshy: “I don’t even get it.”
Luke: “When they try to seduce you into the ways of wickedness?”
Heshy: “There was a girl recently who tried to do that. She wanted to get me off the derech.”
Luke: “Not even if she has great legs? Where do you get that spiritual strength?”
Heshy: “I’m a very good compartmentalizer. Tefillin date is a great example, not that I have ever been on a tefillin date. If I were to go on a tefillin date, that’s a good compartmentalization. Tefillin dates are not for Modern Orthodox. They are for very spiritual people. People who can go out and have a wild night of sex and get up the next morning and say, ‘Modeh ani‘, that’s a very powerful thing.”
“I don’t even think about it anymore. In high school, you get guilty, but I’m passed that stage.”
“I have a lot of friends in yeshiva who learn deep things but they’ll never tell me because they know I’ll just use it to do evil on the web.”
Luke: “Are you a believer?”
Heshy: “I’m a quasi-believer. I believe in God. Do I believe that God spoke to Moses and wrote the Torah? I don’t know. I’m stuck between Gan Eden and Gehenna. I never even thought about this stuff until the last couple of years.”
“I used to be Orthoprax. I didn’t even think about believing. If I didn’t grow up with this, would I be frum? Probably not.”
Heshy says he’s not addicted to his website stats anymore.
Luke: “Do you think that moving to California led you to be more open with your Judaism?”
Heshy: “For sure.”
“Three years ago on Rosh Hashanah, I said, I can’t daven. I told my friend, I’m just going to talk to God. That was a great Rosh Hashanah. The faster I daven, the less kavvanah I have.”
“The San Francisco Bay Area isn’t that funny.”
“Someone asked me, ‘Who’s Luke Ford?’ I said, ‘He’s the Shmarya Rosenberg of the Conservative movement.”
“I hate Twitter.”
Luke: “Do you think that Facebook leads to immorality?”
Heshy: “Sure. Everything leads to immorality. Driving. Telephone. Desks. Do you know how much easier it is to look at porn when you’re sitting at a desk rather than with a computer on your lap?”
“I haven’t gotten any more since I’ve joined Facebook.”
“You don’t hear people complain about Chabad when they’re stuck somewhere and they need a place to stay and a kosher meal. Then they’ll bash them to their friends.”
Luke: “How was the Happy Minyan?”
Heshy: “It was incredibly happy. They didn’t even to Lecha Dodi to dance a line around the shul. The only thing I wasn’t happy about was the mechitza [prevented you from scoping out the girls]. The whole point of going to the Happy Minyan was to be happy when I looked at the happy ladies on the other side. When I was dancing, I opened up the mechitza and had a good look around. They all looked at me as though I was nuts. There were some cuties there. I went to Rabbi Yonah‘s today and he had a whole slew of cuties over. A little too frum for me. They were on their way up in their BT realm. I don’t want a girl on the way up. I don’t want a girl on the way down.”
Luke: “Do you see a difference between people in California and people in New York?”
Heshy: “Yeah. People in California are much more relaxed. In California, everyone wants to have me over for a meal. It’s almost like, ‘Our community is this. Write about us!’ People are very excited to have a good blogger in their midst. In New York, they wouldn’t even know. Oh, you’re a blogger. It has a very big negative connotation.
“The difference is that you can’t just write about people because in the west, everyone will look at your blog. After Shabbos, every single person I’ve met, including rabbis, will Facebook me. Not being on Facebook is like not having a cell phone.”
Luke: “I’m gonna come with you to Nagila.”
Heshy: “Good. I won’t look like an idiot. I won’t be there by myself. Will I get a table? That’s the thing.”
8:45 p.m. We drive to Nagila Pizza.
I feel like Heshy drives recklessly and I’m scared but I don’t say anything.
Luke: “How do you like Pico-Robertson?”
Heshy: “I went to Hancock Park for lunch on Friday. It’s the first time I’ve been to a frumy neighborhood nicer than the modern neighborhood.”
“Somebody told me the other day that people who go into kiruv (outreach) and hashgachah (kashrut) are yeshiva guys who have no skills and couldn’t sit in yeshiva.”
Luke: “That’s 95% true.”
Heshy’s pumped. “We can hit the shiduch scene. We can see what’s really underneath those skirts and stockings. As much as I like girls who wear pants, skirts are so much more…”
We walk north on Rexford. “I wanted to sit there [at Nagila] and look at the ladies and get a feel for the frum night life. Saturday night in the pizza store epitomizes the frum night life.
“Motzi Shabbos expands the boundaries. The Modern Orthodox go to a movie and then they go to a pizza store.”
“When I come down, I can’t believe I live in the same state because LA seems like a foreign country. San Francisco feels like Brooklyn with mountains.”
Luke: “What are the biggest differences in the people between Northern California and Southern California?”
Heshy: “Northern California don’t give a crap about stuff. No one drives nice cars. No one cares about what the house looks like. They care about books and music and poetry and food. The food is nice. It’s not about fancy. It’s about good. I can tell right away that I’m in LA because everyone’s got a really nice car. Everyone’s dressed really nicely. Everyone’s got these big sunglasses. People are wearing suits. You never see someone in a suit in the Bay Area.”
We are across Pico Bl. from Nagila.
Heshy: “I wonder if the people here are going to hate you and blame me for bringing you.”
Nobody shows to the meet-up. We hang out for 30 minutes. Heshy eats two big slices of pizza. Then we walk east on Pico towards the kosher Subway.
It’s 9:35 p.m.
Luke: “There were a lot of cute girls there.”
Heshy: “There were a lot of cute frum underage girls there.”
“I don’t think there are any FFB girls [in the Bay Area] my age. Most of them are geirim (converts) or baalei teshuva quasi frum. Not mamash (for real) frum. They’re eating trafe but they don’t talk to boys.”
“There are six kosher restaurants in the Bay Area. Two of them are of questionable hashgacha.”
“Saturday night I don’t do things. Maybe if I had more friends. I could use a couple of really nice friends. I’m hanging out with this girl. She’s not into me. It would be nice to have a girl.”
“There are a bunch of fans I have down here. I just don’t know where they are.”
“We had 35 people debating about where to meet up and no one shows up.”
“I have no interest in random sex. If it’s not for marriage, it’s not something I want to do.”
“People up there say, ‘Why would you go to LA?'”
Luke: “People hate LA.”
Heshy: “People here probably talk the same way about the north.”
Luke: “Nope. It’s like Europe vs. America. In Europe, they are obsessed with the United States and trash talking the U.S. while Americans feel little need to compare themselves to Europe or to put Europe down. Southern California is bigger and has no insecurity about Northern California. America is bigger and stronger and more prosperous than Europe and has little insecurity.”
“I haven’t dated enough to be cynical about it.”
At 10 p.m., we say goodbye.
From Heshy’s FB Monday: “Heshy Fried was angered by how terrible the food from the Takosher (kosher taco cart on Pico) was – I could make better Mexican than they could and both the dudes in there were Mexican.”
I watched the interview with Heshy with great interest, as the first interview is how i heard about you originally. i like it when people construct their own biographies and don’t trust history to do it for them. it’s an admirable trait, one that men possess more often than women. anyway, it’s harder for women. no matter how consciously you approach your biography, you know that after you’re dead they’re going to talk about what kind of mother you were and if were you were ever married. (Tsvetaeva and Akhmatova are particularly egregious examples).
You know, I’d been reading Heshy for about five years, with steadily positive reactions, but it never occurred to me to find him personally interesting. i thought ffb’s were boring, mentally constrained by their vernacular. (Nonsense, of course, but it was a subconscious belief). And here was someone who drew him out and made him sound fascinating.
You are an interviewer “from G-d,” as we say in Russian. Most people either ask “so, what was it like working with George Clooney?” or they are needlessly provocative, trying to elicit emotion (Barbara Walters, Larry King). But either way they never get to the root of the matter.
You and Craig Ferguson are exceptions.
When i watched the interview with the girl who sent porn to a classmate in a school envelope, i laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks. She had a great charisma.
Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I’m a woman’s man: no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm, I’ve been kicked around
since I was born.
And now it’s all right. It’s OK.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
the New York Times’ effect on man.
A hundred people pass in and out of my live cam chat room. Here is some of what they said:
cholent: yes i told a girl im a fan and she dumped me!!!
cholent: started ranting against the “bitter bloggers”
cholent: end of the day, heshy is a standard monsey boy
cholent: hesh, how often are you moitzi zera levatala? lol
eyekanspel: Nice cholent
eyekanspel: Comments are assur because they might lead to mixed conversation.
eyekanspel: And then mixed dancing.
guest10: heshy u shouldn’t have let the gays get to you
Masha: i thought it was funny
Masha: and obviously a satire
eyekanspel: I was disapointed that the gays got to you, Hesh.
cholent: do you think you might be gay?
frumlady: i hope not, nothing against gays
eyekanspel: In Israel the modern might have to fear for their lives.
eyekanspel: ROCKS F**KING HURT!
cholent: i was at the gay pride parade in tel aviv
cholent: heshy needs to come out
guest7: have you been reading any interesting books recently?
cholent: so how often do you masturbate heshy?
cholent: no frum ppl have hobbies
cholent: lol “yideihem malei dam”
cholent: hands full of blood
eyekanspel: I LOVE the euphemisms Hesh.
eyekanspel: No genocide today!
eyekanspel: The crapper and shmonah esreih are the greatest idea generators.
guest7: I agree
cholent: mabey when your doing them together
eyekanspel: Me too, but you get ideas from what you read.
guest76: how many women have you dated?
frumlady: you want her back? why did it end?
guest76: was she religous?
guest76: is that why u broke up?
frumsatirefan: are you a “believer” or not?
guest76: is murder not against halacha either?
frumsatirefan: OK that means that you are a believer…. shocking!!!
eyekanspel: Have you ever participated in any kind of mixed dancing?
guest76: do you see Heshy as a dancer?
eyekanspel: How does it feel to have a wikipedia article about yourself?
eyekanspel: Why don’t you edit it?