Yesterday dozens of Amish residents from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania caused plenty of confusion as they toured a predominantly Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn's Crown Heights; the Amish beards and black hats had workers in a matzoh factory convinced they were Jews visiting from Uzbekistan. Amish visitors John and Priscilla Lapp explained to the AP that, "In some things we are alike, like our clothing and our traditional beliefs. And in some things we are not. The biggest thing is that Jesus is our savior." (That, and the Lubavitchers have yet to be immortalized by Randy Quaid.)
Rabbi Beryl Epstein, who has been leading tours of Hasidic life since 1982, explained that the visit was intended to give each group a glimpse into the other's devout culture. He tells the Post, "They don't have too many places they can visit where they can be reassured their beliefs will be respected. If they go to Times Square, that's not gonna work." Yisroel Ber Kaplan of the Chassidic Discovery Center also emphasized the visit's spirit of tolerance, "It's reinforcing to the Amish community to see us Jews living the way the Bible says Jews are supposed to live, and have lived since the time of Moses and Abraham. The Amish are also living their lives as the Bible speaks to them."
After touring a synagogue and a library, the group stopped to eat at Esther's Deli on Albany Avenue; Jacob Blank, an Amish father of five, deemed the shawarma on laffa "very good." And before getting back on the bus home, he told the Post what impressed him most: "Watching people cross into the street. People were just walking into traffic."
They actually really do fit in quite well. Click the link above and see the pictures.