Morry’s Fireplace Hosted A Big Simchat Torah Party Thursday Night

So I came out of the Happy Minyan about 9:30 p.m. Thursday and walked east on Pico Blvd. I noticed a huge crowd outside Morry’s Fireplace (operated by Aish HaTorah).

Aish used some sharp thinking to set up this meeting place. Instead of going to clubs, young Jews can hang out at Morry’s and meet each other.

So I think about 300 young Jews, average age of about 25, were milling around outside the place. I pushed my way in. It was jammed. There was a mehitza but it was pointless. The place was packed and the men and women’s sides were equally filled with the opposite sex.

I haven’t seen such a jammed Jewish event on Pico Blvd ever.

What caught my attention was that 95% of the crowd was Persian.

My theory and my experience is that Persians tend to need less personal space than those born in America. Your typical Ashkenazi Jew born and bred in America would look at this event and think, “Way too crowded. I’m out of here.” The typical Persian thinks, “This is crowded. Interesting. Wonder what’s going on?”

I notice most Israelis don’t have the same need for personal space as Americans.

I grew up a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). I converted to Orthodox Judaism. WASPs tend to need more personal space than Orthodox Jews.

I spent about 15 years in Modern Orthodoxy before switching to Chabad a couple of years ago. I notice that the Modern Orthodox expect much more personal space than do Hasidic Jews.

Persians, Israelis and other Middle Easterners tend to push and shove and to need less personal space than westernized Ashkenazi Jews who in turn push and shove more than WASPs, who are known for their reserve.

Thursday night, many of the Persians were on their cell phones. This crowd was overwhelmingly non-observant, but they had shown up to a Simchat Torah event.

When your typical Western Ashkenazi Jew abandons Jewish observance, he stops showing up to Jewish events, but most Persian Jews in America tend to be traditional. They’ll still show up to Jewish events such as Passover even if they don’t observe Jewish law. They might go to shul Shabbos morning and then drive to soccer practice Saturday afternoon.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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