Torn between devotion to their faith and families and a desire to explore the outside world, rebellious young ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are resigned to live secret double lives.
In a small apartment filled with his children, under the watchful eyes of a tightly knit Hasidic neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a young father says goodbye to his wife. He tells her that he will be seeing relatives across the borough, although he has no intention of going there.
The man’s peyos, or side curls, fall to his jaw below a round fur hat, called a shtreimel. His black satin jacket and white shirt—no tie—hang over a fringed prayer shawl. He is handsome, in his twenties, pale, thin and childlike, with just a hint of facial hair. I will call him Joseph; because of the consequences, his real name cannot be revealed here.
Joseph is outside, walking a familiar route, his hands thrust in his pockets and a mysterious smile playing at his lips. He walks past the kosher grocery stores on Lee and Division Streets and reaches Broadway. He examines the passing buildings with the eyes of a man who works in real estate—which he does. He crosses into Williamsburg…