Last week we published a photo of a car in Brooklyn plastered with a ridiculous amount of offensive bumper stickers. That car turned out to belong to Heshi Fried—Fried is a Hardei, which is considered the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism. Considering our negative take on his vehicle, we were pretty surprised when Fried called us this week to thank us for writing about him. "I think it was great, and you know, most people are very much with me, the people who are religious are basically all giving me a thumbs up," Fried said. "Except secular Jews, who usually like, express shock. They feel like I'm causing anti-Semitism or something. They feel really embarrassed."
Fried, who was a follower of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, was incredibly civil during our 30 minute conversation, during which we tried to pose questions based around the offensive bumper stickers he so proudly shows up. Fried confirmed he used to be a member of the fringe Hasidic group Jewish Political Action Committee, but after the big "Jews against the internet" protest at Citi Field a few years ago, they removed their website. "[The Rabbis] didn't want us to have anything that may cause religious kids to go look at the internet to see what's going on. So that's one of reasons we removed the website."
As for those bumper stickers, which he makes himself, Fried says it's part of his goal to make as many people more observant as possible. He proceeded to explain each bumper sticker to us in detail, and how it stems from some passage in the Torah. But we pushed him about the Hurricane Sandy sticker in particular—how can someone possibly connect a weather phenomenon with a legislative action? Below, you can read Fried's answer, which involves a very vengeance-happy, hail-and-brimstone Old Testament reading of God.
Well, I just feel like I want to Throw Up. It's very disturbing to read about a religious Jew who embraces the crackpot ideas of the Westboro cult and the extreme creationists. Babushka remembers Avigdor Miller from the 1970's. He was a fire-and-brimstone stand-up comedian-preacher whose lectures about young-earth creationism and anti-gay diatribes were taken primarily from fundamentalist Christian sources and crackpots like Emanuel Velikovsky. It's very embarrassing to recall that at one time I actually thought he was entertaining, kind of the same way that Rush Limbaugh used to be funny back in the day.
Having these hateful notions is one thing--a person really ought to work on his middos (good qualities), keep hateful feelings to oneself and concentrate on loving one's fellow human, even if that person has different beliefs, skin color, or sexual orientation. To plaster one's vehicle with hateful messages just invites reciprocal hatred, key-scratching, tire-slashing and windshield smashing.
Hateful people suck.