Navigate to News section

Beggars Dressing as Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn

‘Savvy’ panhandlers reportedly don Hasidic garb to seek tzedakah

Stephanie Butnick
July 07, 2014


Would you give money to a beggar if you knew that he, too, was Jewish? That’s the logic that “savvy” panhandlers in South Brooklyn are banking on, according to the New York Post.

In the strangest trend story of the summer, the Post reports that beggars in neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations have taken to wearing long skirts and head coverings to appear Jewish themselves, often asking for money before Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

It’s unclear how successful this new approach is—people clearly aren’t fooled by it if they’re calling in reporters. It’s also unclear how widespread this practice actually is.

The Post seems to have met one of its practitioners in Flatbush last month.

A young woman wearing a snood on her head approached a Post reporter last month on Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush with arms stretched out, saying, “Tsedaka.”

When the Hebrew-speaking journalist asked if she spoke Hebrew, she looked confused, said “Jewish,” then ran off.


Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

Support Our Podcasts

In addition to Unorthodox, the world’s No. 1 Jewish podcast, and Take One, our daily Talmud meditation, we’re hard at work on exciting new Jewish audio series.