The Haredim are particularly scholarly and literate people. Dense religious texts, in Hebrew, are pored over by the Haredim for a lifetime. The “yeshivas,” the religious academies, are always central institutions in every Haredi community.
One particularly large concentration of Haredi Jews is located in Ocean County, New Jersey, about 65 miles south of New York City, where about 61,000 Orthodox reside. The majority of Ocean County’s Jewish population, about 42,000, live in Lakewood Township. And most of Lakewood is Haredi.
There are several yeshivas and day schools for the Haredim in Lakewood, with busing provided for 18,000 students. The largest yeshiva in North America, Beth Medrash Govoha, with more than 5,000 students, is located in Lakewood.
The Haredim are modest of dress. The men wear usually wear black pants and jackets, with white shirts, no ties. Beards are usually, but not always, worn. Many Haredi men wear “payots,” long sidelocks.
Women wear long dark skirts, with long sleeves, and high necklines. Both men and women always wear a head covering. Men usually wear a “kippah,” a small skull cap, or a black, wide-brimmed hat; women don scarves or wigs. The head covering reminds the frum that God is always above them.
The Haredi of Lakewood, New Jersey, privately provide its population with all the services of any other American city.
The “Hatzalah” (“company of rescuers”) is an emergency medical services organization that serves Lakewood’s Haredi citizens. Hatzalah medics are trained in Halacha, and are therefore sensitive to important Jewish rules when dealing with Haredi patients. Women, for example, must be treated according to very specific practice, according to Halacha.
Hatzalah members were among the first responders to the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. They were not dispatched by the city’s 911 system. They did not need to be called.