"There are no restaurants, bakeries, prepared food stores in all of New Square. The only supermarket sells only basic items, no prepared food, no national brands. Everyone eats the same few staples [because the Rebbe says to].…"
The Skverer Rebbe Rabbi David Twersky
Marty Bluke reports that Mishpacha Magazine published an article on life in the hasidic village of New Square, New York.
…1. There are no restaurants, bakeries, prepared food stores in all of New Square. The only supermarket sells only basic items, no prepared food, no national brands. Everyone eats the same few staples.
2. Everyone eats the exact same food on Shabbos. For example, the menu in every family in New Square for the Friday night meal without exception is:
a. Gefilte fish
b. Chicken Soup
d. Fruit compote for desert
3. There are no individual simchas. Every Shabbos there are approximately 10 aufrufs and ten bar mitzvas, they only throw candy at the end for everyone and there is 1 small kiddush after davening [prayers].
4. There is only 1 shul with only 1 minyan. On Shabbos morning at 8AM they start saying Tehilim for 3 hours, at 11AM they start Shacharis which takes over 3 hours.
5. There are 3 tishes [religious meals with the Rebbe, i.e., watching the Rebbe eat] every Shabbos which everyone must attend.
6. All the men dress exactly the same down to the boots that they all wear.
7. There is complete separation between men and women:
a. separate sidewalks, one side men one side women, married couples aren't allowed to walk together
b. separate waiting rooms at the doctor
c. mechitza buses
d. women leave shul after kedusha so that when the men leave there isn't a woman around
Another aspect mentioned in the article is the fact that the Rebbe is in total control of the town. The mayor, city councilmen, city workers are all appointed by the Rebbe and nothing happens without his say so. [This is blatantly illegal and very well known, yet Rockland County’s law enforcement and the State of New York and the federal government turn blind eyes away from it. — FailedMessiah.com] Since, the Rebbe is the absolute focus of the town, before anyone does anything they consult the Rebbe. Consulting the Rebbe is not cheap, first you have to pay the Kvitel writer, then there is a Gabbai in charge of the door to the Rebbe's room, you have to pay him as well. Last but not least you need to leave money for the Rebbe himself when you finally meet him.…
Bluke wants to know what makes New Square different from a cult and the Skvevre Rebbe different from a cult leader.
The answer, as Aron Rottenberg, the dissident New Square resident almost burned alive by one of the Rebbe's henchmen, found out first hand is – nothing. There is no real difference. And haredim don't seem to care.
[Hat Tip: Marty Bluke.]