03 October 2016

They Were Going Their Way. So Were We.

They were crossing and walking in the bike lane.  In families, all of them:  very young girls and boys with curls cascading from their heads, their mothers' hair pulled back or covered, the men crowned with fur hats.  Sometimes they had to stop to take their kids' hands and guide them across the path; others stopped to talk, to behold the evening descending upon them, upon us.

Right in the middle of the bike lane.  All up and down the bike lane.  

And I didn't get upset with them.  None of the other cyclists seemed to, either.  We couldn't, really.  There were hundreds of those families, walking to or from the river or their houses.  There just wasn't any place else for them to walk.

We--for a moment, we became a community, even though none of us knew each others' names, and we may never meet again--all turned right on Ross Street and three blocks later, took a left on Hipster Fifth Avenue, a.k.a. Bedford Avenue, which parallels Kent Avenue and its bike lane.

We, all of whom were riding north on the lane, knew that whatever we thought of riding on Bedford Avenue, it was better than weaving through men and women and dodging children.  It was also, frankly, the most civilized thing any of us could have done.  

Image result for Rosh Hashanah
Alexsander Gierymski, Hasidic Jews Performing Tashlikh on Rosh Hashanah, 1884

We all knew enough to do that.  I wonder whether we all knew better than to ride through the Hasidic enclave of South Williamsburg at sundown on Rosh Hashanah.  I knew that the holiday began at sundown yesterday and will continue until sundown tomorrow.  But I just instinctively followed the streets to the Kent Avenue bike lane, which I normally take when I'm riding home from Coney Island, as I was today, or anyplace else in southern or western Brooklyn.

And those Hasidic families were, no doubt, walking their normal routes between schul, the river--where they cast pieces of bread into the metallic water for their tashlikh-- and their homes.  We couldn't begrudge them that, even if they were in "our" bike lane!

No comments:

Post a Comment