Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hasidic Rabbis Bully Hasidic Actor

Abe Karpen, 25, a married father of three, was cast as [Natalie] Portman's husband in "New York I Love You," a film composed of 12 short stories about love in the five boroughs.

"I am backing out of the movie," said Karpen, a kitchen cabinet salesman. "It's not acceptable in my community. It's a lot of pressure I am getting. They [the rabbis] didn't like the idea of a Hasidic guy playing in Hollywood.

"I have my kids in religious schools and the rabbi called me over yesterday and said in order for me to keep my kids in the school I have to do what they tell me and back out," Karpen said.

While news of Karpen's withdrawal sent waves of disappointment through the movie set, the Hasidic community was up in arms over Karpen's acting gig - forcing him to flee for the weekend, a friend said.


Just Wednesday, Karpen was strolling along the Fulton Ferry State Park under the Brooklyn Bridge alongside Portman, 26, who sported a dark head-covering and a coat.

"They wanted me to hold her hand, but I said 'no way,'" said Karpen, who proudly stood his ground. "It's against our religion. You can't even hold your wife's hand on the street."

Then came the howls of protest about his unorthodox job.

"This is when I woke up and saw that I made a big mistake. My kids mean everything to me and my community where I live means everything to me," said Karpen, who comes from a prominent Williamsburg, Brooklyn, family.

His longtime friend Levi Okunov said the Karpens had to flee the city for the weekend. "The community wants to kill him," he said.

Hasidic community activist Isaac Weinberger said Karpen should have known better.

"We don't watch television. We don't go to the movies, so to be in a movie is the worst thing. It's a shame for any Hasid," he said.


Phil Sumpter said...

Wow, I've heard of Hasidic violence but murder? Has that ever happened?

I spoke to a Breslauer recently who told me that Rabbi Nahman's life was constantly under threat. How common is this kind of thing?

The Hedyot said...

He meant "they want to kill him" metaphorically. Like, "my wife is going to kill me because I am so late for dinner."

They might get violent over some things, but it usually doesn't escalate beyond mildly roughing people up, and mild harassment. (Not that I think this sort of thing would warrant even that kind of reaction.)

asher said...

This story came out in todays New York Daily News and sounds about as legit as Obama's pretending not to know about his reverend's preaching.

Pray tell me how a 25 year old orthodox man, with 3 children and is gainfully employed as a kitchen cabinet salesman (yeah right) has the time to go on auditions for a film. I wonder, how did he hear about the availablity of this shul? Who was his agent?
What is his acting experience? Imagine, a high powered producer taking a chance on this guy in a film with Natalie Portman. Couldn't they just hire some good actor to put on payis and a chasidic hat...kind of like what they've done several times before in films concerning chasidic characters?

My God, what they won't do to promote a film.

And how did the community hear about all these goings on? Were on they on the set as it was being filmed? Who let them on? What does his wife and family have to say?
Knowing he would be in a film why did he take the job in the first place?