What did I see in the airport...?

At Newark airport a couple of days ago, a bunch of guys all dressed in black with beards and curly hair were pushing around a very old guy in an old leather wingback chair with wheels bolted on the feet. Honestly, it looked utterly ridiculous. I am guessing the guys in black were orthodox Jews or something? There were probably 4 of them trying to keep control of the chair, all the wheels turned so it was kind of comical to watch them try to keep it straight.

My question is, why wasn’t the old guy in a normal wheelchair?

They could have been Amish, and that was some sort of special Amish wheelchair.

Ah, yes, those jet-setting Amish folk, always flitting about in their jet airliners… :smiley:

They’re allowed to use public transportation. It would take an long time to go cross-country in a horse-&-buggy.

They’re allowed to use jets but not wheelchairs? And we English are the naer’ do wells? And since when is time of the essence for the Amish?

They’re not against technology per se, but accept or reject technology based on how it will affect their community’s ability to maintain its cohesiveness and distinctiveness from the outside world.

Probably Amish. You can tell them because their beards are missing moustaches.

Having seen them at the Children’s Hospital where I was doing research, I know they came from hundreds of miles away. From what I heard they were allowed to ride on trains and cars, but not drive them, and I didn’t think they were allowed to ride on planes, but evidently they can. I know if they have a tough farming year they will call in professional mechanical harvesters to get the crops for them. Oh and they have that odd thing where they send their kids off at like 16 to live in the city for a few weeks, and the kids get to decide if they’re going to return back home or stay in our world forever.

I once asked my friend “I thought they were against modern science and medicine”. His reply “no, that’s when it’ssomeone else’s kid with cancer, not yours”.

The Amish thing of allowing your 16 year old to run wild for a while before deciding whether to join as an adult is Rumspringa.

I’m pretty sure they werent Amish, they had mustaches and big black hats, and what looked like scarves. The really crazy part was the very old almost comatose old guy in the chair with wheels bolted on the legs, with all the wheels turning and four guys on each corner of the chair in long black flowing overcoats trying to keep the chair from spinning.

I would think an Amish wheelchair would work better than this.

I’d think so too…they are actually renowned for their craftsmanship.

In an alternate reality, that would be Windle Poons and the assorted Wizards of Unseen University.

Heading to the clicks?

Windle poons sport more color. These guys were all black with black beards (except the old guy in the chair) Hey…mabey it was God in the chair. He might in fact be “one of us”. They would have a tough time getting that chair “on the bus” so he could make his way home. Seemed to me that he wouldnt (or couldnt) move from the chair so they probably stuck the wheels on because they had to get him to the airport one way or another.

Assuming they were Chasidic Jews, I can think of one reason why they would not want a standard wheelchair.

To Chasidim, the ground and floor are worldly, dirty, unclean in both a physical and spiritual sense. They wear shoes without laces or buckles so that they can be taken on and off without touching them with your hands. Pants end at the calf, so that the cuffs do not touch the ground.


A normal wheelchair has rear wheels that rise quite high. The wheels, always touching the ground and thus unclean, rise to the shoulders of the person in the chair. They rise to the waist of everybody else. What happens when the fringes of a tallit katan (the holy undershirt G-d commanded us male Jews to wear) touch the dirty wheels? How can a man who constantly has his hands on the hubs of unclean wheels ever be properly cleaned for prayer?

Small wheels would solve this problem. The man could no longer move the chair by himself, but it is the clear duty of all the other Chasidic men to move him wherever he needs to go.

Personally, I’d just go with a motorized chair. These generally can be switched to neutral. He could get around without touching the wheels. On sabbaths and holidays, he could switch to neutral and be pushed.

Not terribly fair there. While there are several kinds of exceptions to their no-modern-technology rule (they can be driven by someone else in a vehicle, they can have an emergency telephone connection as long as it’s not actually in the house, etc.) I don’t see it as hypocritical because, basically, the Amish couldn’t give two figs whether anyone who isn’t Amish follows those rules or not. They’re among the least likely religious groups to try to legislate or browbeat their personal religious beliefs into the public law. I’d rather have a village full of Amish neighbors than have Robertson-style Evangelicals move in next door.

Hehe, not to hijack, I visited an Amish community in TN last summer, the kids looked at me like I was the devil, wouldn’t say boo when I was buying vegetables from them. Hard little workers though, those not selling stuff generally had a broom in hand or were performing some other chore. On a Saturday morning, no less. Adults were polite folk, skilled artisans.

I think you misunderstand Bob55. I read his comment as ‘An Amish Bob is against his neighbor, Amish Lou, seeking English medical help when Amish Lou Jr gets cancer. But, Amish Bob has no problem doing it when Amish Bob Jr has cancer.’

AFAIK, the Amish embrace the same ‘when life is at stake’ principle that Jews do. OTTOMH, I can’t think of any cases where the state has gone after Amish parents for not getting children proper medical care. I can think of several cases when the state has jailed Jehovah’s Witnesses and/or taken their children when they refuse to allow transfusions etc for their children.

A- My memory has failed me. This is always a possibility.

B-The Amish are just better than JWs at hiding kids who need medical care. Well, the Amish are a tightly knit community of wiley people. So, this could be it.

C-The Amish ban certain technologies to prevent their community from becoming attached to the world rather than to G-d, but make exceptions when life is at stake.

Boy, that first part is contrary to my experience. I spend a few weekends each year in Amish country in Pennsylvania. The kids I’ve met have been friendly and engaging. I ended up playing barehand catch with a boy one day when Lady Chance and her mom were off shopping. That kid could bring the heat and clearly had been coached in baseball somewhere. Good wind up and delivery.

OTOH, he didn’t ever mock me for not keeping up with him. That was refreshing for a middle-aged man that I seem to be these days.

Coulda been they didn’t speak English very well.