March 1, 2004 | Issue 9

New Jewish Classification Causing Quite a Stir

BORO PARK, BROOKLYN — [] As if the 21 classifications of Judaism weren't enough to commit to memory, a new grouping has been added to the mix and has contributed to further confusion.

Before the new classification was added, Jews worldwide were comfortable with the following categories: Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, Chasidish, Yeshivish, Litvish, Morthodox, Conservadox, Modern Orthodox, Black Hatter, Modern Yeshivish, Frum But With It, Young Israeli, Sabra, Yemenite, Srugi, Yeki, Chareidi, Upper West Side and Howard Stern.

Now "SUMO" has been thrown into the mix. "SUMO" stands for Super Ultra Mega Orthodox and its adherents have selected stringencies that boggle the mind of even those in the Ultra Orthodox crowd.

SUMOs have been known to wait six days between meat and milk, burn down their houses before Passover so chametz won't be found and throw themselves into the water during Tashlich.

Surprisingly, it is not these stringencies that are offending Jewish people in the other Classifications - it's memorizing the new list that's the problem.

"Listen," says Tova Bloom, an Orthodox Jew from Midwood, Brooklyn, "Nobody minds if these SUMOs don't use computers on Pesach because the cookies are chametzdik and nobody really cares that they walk around naked because they think everything might be shatnes, it's memorizing the entire Jewish classification list that's beginning to be a problem."

Ruthy Heimilich of Queens, New York sums it up the best: "What's the list again? Is it Conservadorm? Black Reformer? Litvadox? This is impossible to keep track of."

Despite the complaints, the list must be memorized as Michael Bloomberg won't allow third graders who can't memorize the new list to advance to fourth grade.


Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded, and writes books from 5-9:


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