Jewish Women Behaving Badly

Okay. So two Orthodox women bring 12 children, including some as young as 2 years old, to a glatt kosher Chinese restaurant for lunch. They’re disruptive. When the bill comes the women object to the 18% tip added by the restaurant – something alleged to be standard for large parties. There is no notice of this policy on the menu, and the women ask that the bill be split between them so the size of each party falls below the large party limit. This would allow them to leave a smaller tip. The restaurant refuses and an argument ensues. The upshot? The women file a criminal complaint against the waiter, alleging discrimination because the women are Jewish. (Remember, this is a glatt kosher restaurant where most – if not all – of the clientele are Orthodox Jews.)

I owned a kosher food service business. My customer base was made up of about 80% Conservative Jews and 20% Orthodox. Of the Orthodox, most were haredi, and about 70% of them were BTs. My worst customers, the ones who were the most obnoxious, who asked for the most (often illegal) "favors" (a favorite was cheating on their WIC accounts, which I refused to do), the ones who demanded the most and shopped the least, were all haredim who were not BTs.

Over the years I’ve spoken with many people in the Jewish food service business. All have the same basic complaints about their customers. All noted that the more "frum" a customer is, the more likely that customer will be trouble. I’ve seen this played out in restaurants and meat markets in several states and in Jerusalem, as well.

Why is this misbehavior so common? I have my thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours.

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49 Comments

Filed under Haredim, Modern Orthodoxy

49 responses to “Jewish Women Behaving Badly

  1. gross

    Reb Shmarya,

    It’s not just the food business. It’s retail in general. “Frum” customers can be HELL.

  2. Noclue

    I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT, WHICH MAY HAVE ENSUED BECAUSE THE RESTAURANT CALLED THE POLICE, BUT ADDING 18 PER CENT TO A BILL WITHOUT NOTICE IS IMPRIOPER AND CAN CAN BE THWE BASIS FOR A FRAUD COMPLAINT OR AN ILLEGAL CONSUMER PRACTICE COMPLAINT.

    IN THIS CASE IT WAS THE RESTAURANT WHICH IS WRONG, BECAUSE THEY TRIED TO EXTRACT A CHARGE WHICH THE CUSTOMER HAD NO OBLIGATION TO PAY. THEY SHOULD LEARN A LESSON AND POST THEIR POLICY CLEARLY WHERE EVERYBODY CAN SEE IT.

  3. Ken Gray

    I find this very disturbing. Is the Frum community trying to corroborate every pathological stereotype of Jewish cheapness. So if these two wonderful women split the bill, would they then have given the waiter a 15% tip? I think not. They would have utterly stiffed him. It’s such disgustingly little regard for another human being who probably has 80 percent of his salary derived from tips. Such hypocrites.

    Let me tell you a little story that has always bothered me about an acquaintance of mine. This Frumster was given a bottle of very expensive nonkosher wine. Since she was not going to drink it, it was suggested that she give it to a nonreligious Jewish co-worker, who was a big wine enthusiast. She stated proudly, “A Jew should never give Treif to another Jew.” He offered to pay her $20 for it. She haughtily refused. He then offered her $50 for it. She said, “Now you’re talking,” and consummated the transaction.

  4. The Uncola

    WOW! look at all those frum hypocrites! The Torah must be a worthless work of hypocrisy itself! NOT!

    I have many Jewish and non-Jewish customers. Both groups have their pathetic cheapskates. The Jewish ones aggravate me more, of course, because I feel stuck with them for customers. They’re part of my community, so I can’t alienate them. It’s easier for me to lose a gentile PIA customer than a PIA Jew, so I feel hopelessly trapped with the hell of the bad Jewish customers. However, the rewarding Mentschliche customers, the kind who really make business worthwhile, are almost all Chareidim. So the net gain of developing my frum clientele far outweighs the PIA hell from the proportionate amount of cheapskates.

    Cheap people need to realize how they appear to others. Many actually don’t care. I personally think that its a clinical neurosis much of the time.

    Back to the hypocrisy – it sucks, but it is usually part of a greater personality disorder. We teach our kids to be Mentschen, but we also have to pray for success in helping them develop into fine baalei middos. Especially since Shmarya et al are on the prowl looking to celebrate any instance of Chillul Hashem.

  5. Nigritude Ultramarine

    I’m going with my old standby — “The Silly Goy” theory.

    I’m sorry, but the “frum” world does not seem to be built to treat goyim seriously and with respect.

  6. Veganovich

    I do not think that they should have called the police, because it’s not a criminal matter, but the restaurant was plainly wrong to try to apply a policy it has without telling its customers in advance. (Many restaurants print this policy in their menu.) Imagine if I had a meal, refused to pay, because my policy is not to pay for my lunch. My position would be no weaker than the restaurant’s position.

  7. Nigritude Ultramarine

    I love this quote, attributed to Rav Ahron Soloveichik, zt”l:

    “Don’t tell me about frum Jews. Frum Jews you find in jail. Tell me about ehrlicher Yidden.”

  8. Bava Kama Sutra

    I used to visit my family on Flatbush and we used to go for lunch to Kosher Delight. The kids there were always laud and rude.

    On regular days I used to do lunch at my neighborhood on the upper east side. There was this diner next to a Catholic school (Layola ?) and the kids were always quiet, polite, friendly and gave their place on the line to older people.

  9. jesse

    I have been upset at having to pay an excessive tip. Haven’t you? Last year there was a news article that a restaurant (non-kosher) in upstate NY tacked on a required tip and the customer left without paying it. He was charged and it turns out that you can’t require a tip unless it is included in the price per item. A suggested tip is just that and legally unless it was clearly stated it can’t be collected. The women should have just left and please no comments that they should have tipped to avoid a chilul hashem.

  10. Clearly, the customer isn’t always right. Unfortunately, some Jews were taught that disrespecting goyim is permissible. The kosher Chinese restaurant owner is doing our people a favor by keeping his restaurant kosher, the least we could do is treat him with respect.

  11. tm

    This is really an unbecoming post, Shmarya. For a moment there, between the post and the comments, I thought I was visiting Stormfront.

  12. Ari

    As a server at a Kosher restaurant in Chicago, I can tell you that the added gratuities for parties over 6 individuals is a lifesaver, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the frummies. It’s goal is that when a larger party comes in and you have to spend a lot of time on the table while other tables necessarily see less of you, you deserve a guaranteed gratuity – this is quite standard in restaurant world.

    Too many times I have been stiffed, or given a 2-5% tip (equivalent to being stiffed) by the frummie crowd. Nowadays, if the table of frummies is under 6 people, I hand the table off to someone else, seeing as I’ll get a crappy tip and have to put up with their obnoxious behavior and screaming children.

  13. A party of 14 people is a lot of work. You should provide a decent tip.

  14. Nigritude Ultramarine

    For a moment there, between the post and the comments, I thought I was visiting Stormfront

    /Thank you for invoking Godwin’s Law

  15. ira kaufman

    hhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!chinese food!anyone remember sol bersteins?

  16. Ari

    I almost forgot though, I do have one amusing story to tell.

    I once served the Rabbi from the downtown Chicago Chabad, and the tax on his meal came out to $7.70. I was kind of amused….until I got stiffed.

  17. Isa

    Move to Australia – Yes sir – no tips there.
    Acually its a socialist mentality that people should be paid decently so tips are not needed.
    If the bill is e.g. $9.50A then give the taxi driver or waiter a ten dollar bill and say keep the change.
    In American society waiters/waitresses get paid a coolie wage, its the tips that make a living wage.

  18. Garnel Ironheart

    First of all, the restaurant should have had a posted policy on the front door or the menu. To show up with a bill and throw in an 18% surcharge is not an acceptable way to do business. A tip should be automatic but based on the quality of the service. I’ve left as much as 20% for servers who’ve impressed me and I’ve left no tip on occasion when I’ve had to wait for food which was sloppily served by a rude waitress. Having said that, the gemara in Yoma 86a comes to mind, the one that says that Jews should always behave in a decent and proper way so as to sanctify the name of Heaven. Too often “frum” Jews skip this rule. Now, according to our sages, the Torah was given to us because, instinctively, we are the most stiff-necked, aggravating, annoying nation in the world and stories like this confirm that the basic nature of the Jew hasn’t changed since Matan Torah. This doesn’t mean the Torah or the Oral Law are bad, but that the Jewish people, despite all their “intense learning” in many cases simply refuse to internalize the rulings they’re memorized. These women should have made a protest, a la “Excuse me, no one mentioned a mandatory tip the entire time we’ve been here” and then said “Well, 15% is a standard tip for decent service, you’ve served us decently so we’ll leave 15% between the two of us.” As for the kids…

  19. While the Stormfront comment is a bit extreme, I see where he comes from. Your post so slanted it’s obscene. You completely ignores the claims of the customers, which included the claim that the waitier said “You dirty Jews have so many children this is why you people are such losers,” and “pushed her 2-year-old son out of his way.” You also state as fact that the customers asked to have the party split in two so as to avoid the 18% rule. But that is the waiter’s claim. According to the complaint, cited in article, “had not been informed of the policy prior to the meal that they ate with their children, and alleged that the 18 percent had been added because they are Jewish.”

    Oh, right. How can you believe Orthodox Jews when it comes for grabbing for an extra buck.

    Pathetic.

  20. Chana

    >Why is this misbehavior so common? I have my thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours.

  21. Nigritude Ultramarine

    “You dirty Jews have so many children this is why you people are such losers,”

    Sorry, but this statement doesn’t ring true. I have heard goyim say all kinds of things, but I’ve never heard a goy say “dirty Jew” in this day and age.

    “pushed her 2-year-old son out of his way.”

    Pushed him? With what his hands? I guess it’s possible if the waiter is three feet tall.

    “had not been informed of the policy prior to the meal that they ate with their children, and alleged that the 18 percent had been added because they are Jewish.”

    Yeah, this happens to me all of the time. Waitstaff and customer service personnel continually overcharge me because I’m Jewish. How do I know? Why, I’m a mindreader, just like the women in the article.

  22. Neo-Conservaguy

    Not all ultra-orthodox families act badly in public; I’ve had the pleasure of friendship with some that are models of derekh erets both in private and in public. These wonderful people, however, sadly stand out in their communities as exceptions to the rule.

    It’s a sad, embarrassing truth that many ultra-orthodox families are seen behaving this way in public. A quick check in any kosher restaurant that has the word “Kosher” in the name (e.g. “Kosher Express”, “Kosher Nosh”, “Krazy Katz’s Kosher Kanollis”) would reveal this behavior on a normal basis. I dread going into such places, and only do so as a last resort if no other kosher eatery that caters to the more modern orthodox crowd is available.

    There are many factors involved, most notably the stress placed upon the parents – often mostly the mother – of managing a huge herd of wild young kids. Parenthood, especially motherhood, is difficult enough with a small number of young kids! Nothing that dad is learning (or learned) in kollel is teaching him the practical skills to manage his children, his household, or his sanity – not to mention his wife’s. Now add in whatever negative cultural influences impact the behavior of the parents and/or the children, take them out in public, and watch the madness play out. Throw in poverty and the stresses it induces, and you have a party.

    As for tipping, it’s an embarrassing compensation structure that causes far more trouble than it’s worth. As long as we’re stuck with it, I try to tip well for good service and less well for poor service. All one has to do is spend some time in a country/culture where tipping doesn’t exist and you still get fantastic customer service (e.g. Japan) and you’ll never again see the point of hiding the markup for service in the form of a tip. Then again, you’ll never see the point of accepting the piss-poor service most often offered by the average service worker.

  23. 1. No one disputes that they asked to split the bill and that they claimed that would reduce their tip.

    2. The criminal complaint is for “discrimination,” not assult.

    3. Both sides claim the other was verbally abusive.

    Really, Krum, you should reread my post.

  24. Noclue

    No one disputes that there was no posted policy stating that there was a mandatory tip charge. Therefore, the charging of such a tip, presumably under the threat of calling the police if not paid, is illegal.

    Whether or not they asked to split the party, thus allowing the restaurant to save face, they were perfectly within their rights to pay a smaller tip or no tip at all.

    If, in fact, the waiter said what he is alleged to have said, which, given the statements from commentors here, is perfectly believable, then the criminal charge of discrimination is perfectly proper, despite that most of the customers are Jewish.

    Omitting crucial information shows the prejudice of the omitter. You are no more honest that the people you so freely criticize.

  25. Restaurants customarily enforce tip policies. Legally, there is an understanding of this. It’s implied. Can restaurant force someone to pay the 18% if no sign is posted? No. But NO ONE alleges the restaurant threatened to call police or did call them. It was the obnoxious frum customers who did that, and what they claim is discrimination, not assult. You have to be quite blind to miss that.

  26. Higdil Laassot

    it’s all true and worse.
    haredi women driving their
    little jewells to bais yakov
    are a threat to public safety.
    under the excuse that they struggle
    to feed their kids, chareidi men and women, could behave like like the wildest
    of cheats.
    they are capable of -and do-
    buy eggs before passover in large quantities , in case any is left,
    they return the soon to be stale eggs after passover.
    systematically buy flowers for shabbat
    on thursday nights, with the intent of returning the expensive bouquets on motzaei shabbat under satisfaction guarranteed policies.
    ask for private deals in fast food places.
    if requests are not dealt with satisfactorily, some-many- become abusive loud and in public.

  27. Noclue

    “Restaurants customarily enforce tip policies.”
    If restaurants customarily steal then I guess it is OK, but not in my book.

    Obviously, when these persons, well within their rights, decided they did not want to be robbed, they were threatened by the restaurant and forced to pay against their will and against the law. You would have to be blind or pretend not to see to miss that.

    The restaurant was wrong here and should have cut its losses by dropping the matter or splitting the party and saved face. It did not and somehow the victims become the villians, at least in your mind.

    If restaurants wish to enforce a tip policy they should add the price on to the bill or state that a service charge, not a tip, is beinga added to all menu prices. If they do not then nobody should complain if somebody does not tip. Period.

  28. Noclue

    P.S. I suggest that you go to law school for three years and only then state with authority what is and what is not legal. There is no implied legal obligation to pay a tip, period.

  29. Yochanan Lavie

    “Too often, a person who is ‘religious’ can become so impressed with himself that he really sees nothing wrong with anything he does. As far as he or she is concerned, even G-d would approve because they are sooo religious, what wrong can they possibly do?”

    A good piece of mussar is “The Screwtape Letters” by CS Lewis. Although it is written by a Christian, there is nothing in it that depends on believing in Yushka rather than God. It tackles the issue of pious arrogance head-on. I am sure Moshe Chaim Luzzato does, too.

    Being an Am Kadosh is more than ritual behaviorism.

  30. Jim the Catholic

    Bava Kama Sutra wrote:
    >On regular days I used to do lunch at my neighborhood on the upper east side. There was this diner next to a Catholic school (Layola ?) and the kids were always quiet, polite, friendly and gave their place on the line to older people.

    I reply: I guess it’s really true what they say about the “Grass is aways greener etc”. Because these sounds like the OPPOSITE of the Catholic kids I grew up with! Delinquents the lot of them!

  31. Jim the Catholic

    BTW I was under the impression that “tipping” by it’s very nature was supposed to be voluntary? It is the absolute right of the customer to decide for themselves how much (if any) tip they will leave.

    I agree with Nocue on this one.

    Though I will be the first to admit the charge the restarant owner called the ladies “dirty Jews” seems a bit unreal. I doubt it happened.

  32. Noclue –

    As usual, you don’t have a clue. Anyone who has ever been in the service industry and has dealt with haredim have reams of horror stories. There’s a reason for that. Part of is the willful blindness of creeps like you.

  33. Noclue –

    And, to go further, you’re wrong on the tip, as well. One may argue about the amount, but it is expected that a patron tip the server. Many restaurants add the gratuity to the bill automatically. And, if you could read (which I doubt) you’ll note that no witness claims the incident happened like you say it did, and that includes the haredim who called the cops. Now keep alibying for your errant, abusive community.

  34. Bava Kama Sutra

    I reply: I guess it’s really true what they say about the “Grass is aways greener etc”. Because these sounds like the OPPOSITE of the Catholic kids I grew up with! Delinquents the lot of them!
    Posted by: Jim the Catholic | January 03, 2007 at 05:33 PM

    You know something ? maybe you are right, maybe these kids behave like this because they are very rich, some of them being chauffeured 3 hours a day from Greenwich. Or they came from good families, who knows.

  35. Noclue

    Makes you wonder; how did I graduated from law school with high honors without being able to read?

    Pray, tell, how do you know if I am or am not a creep since we never have even met.

    I was not there and do not know exactly what happened. However, it is clear that a person was being charged an amount that she was not legally obligated to pay and that that was what instigated the whole incident, which escalated beyond what it should have, probably due to both sides. In cases like this the bulk of the blame should be on the person who started it, by engaging in an illegal practice.

    Neither you nor I deposed any of the witnesses so neither of us knows precisely what happened.

    There are hundreds of thousands of persons who you would label as Charedim. Given that number, I am sure that you may have many horror stories. I am also sure that you could find many stories of people going out of their way to help other people, with no ulterior motive and no quid pro quo.

    I can tell you many horror stories about non-Jews or not observant Jews. Just read the daily newspapers. Should I generalize to condemn them all because of the minority?

    By the logic you use, yes.

    By the way, I did not see any mention on your blog of the person who is suing the police over their actions during the so called Boro Park riots. Seems all the charges against him were dropped and the police brutalized him. Their excuse was he attemted to trip a police saergent. Even the DA’s office did not believe that and dropped the charges.

    Seems all your blogging is selective.

  36. Does Touro count asa real law school? Please. It is not an “illegal” practice. And by the accounts of witnesses, the haredim behaved badly throughout the meal, well before there was any issue of a tip.

    As for your creep status, I read what you write, and your knee-jeck defense of everything haredi, coupled with lame arguments that wouldn’t pass muster in Argumentation 101, tells a lot about you.

  37. Noclue

    I did not go to Touro Law School. Why do you assert things that you know nothing about? I also do not defend everything Charedi. I comment when I feel I have something to add. Believe it or not, I at times agree with your criticisms. I do not feel obligated to write that you are correct.

    Yes. It is illegal to try to extract, under an i8mplied threat, a “mandatory” tip, after the customer has objected, when you do not post the policy.

    It is an unfair consumer practice, which is not made kosher because other restaurants engage in the same practice.

    In fact, I suspect that very few restaurants would try to enforce the mandatory charge after a customer objects, unless the charge was stated on the menu. As to the witnesses, all you know is hearsay on top of hearsay.

    I wonder why my law professors thought I wrote excellent papers if my arguments are so bad. (They were blind marked so it could not have been my good looks.)

    Plaese, stick to arguments without the name calling, if you can control yourself.

  38. The only comments you ever leave blindly defend haredi misbehavior. The restaurant did not try to “enforce” through cohersion its mandatory tip policy. The haredi did not argue the policy was illegal or immoral. They tried to split the bill to evade it. When the restaurant would not allow this, they began to argue, and when they lost, they called the police and filed a DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT against the restaurant. They made no claims of criminal extortion or the like and the police filed no such claims. In other words, your argument is wrong on its face. I shudder to think you practice law, and camn only imagine the pain you must cause your clients.

  39. Noclue

    (1) Of course they tried to coerce payment; if not who cares if the bill is split and subject to the mandatory charge or not? You are illogical.

    How can somebody be evading a charge if the charge is voluntary?

    (2) If the waiter commented on the ethnic composition of a party in a negative way, that is probably enough to survive summary judgment on a discrimination count, whether or not the restaurant is kosher or most customers are Jewish. Further, if, as you claim, Charedim have a reputation as bad tippers, and, if this is the reason that the mandatory tip policy was enforced against these women, then you have classic discrimination.

    (3)If you look at my first post on this matter, you would see I expressed some skepticism about the discrimination charge.
    However, if what these woman say are true, it probably is correct.

    (4) The actions of the restaurant are illegal whether or not an extortion complaint was made. (By the way, a threat to call police on a matter you think you are correct is almost never extortion. The same for a threat to sue. That is why I never used the term.)

    (5) Illegal can be illegal against civil law or illegal against crminal law. I never said that the reaturant violated any crminal statute.

    (6) I never blindly defend anyone. At times I may be mistaken. However, I always look at both sides of the issue. It is an unfortunate trait that I have. But do not worry. It is not contagious. You are immune.

    (7) Having a mandatory charge and not stating so on your menu or in some conspicuous place is illegal and immoral. Of course, to you nothing is wrong unless Charedim do it.

  40. Call your old professors. Show them the original story and these comments. Then get the remedial help you so clearly need.

  41. Noclue

    (1) I told you you were immune.

    (2)This is the very last time I will post anything on your sight, except in direct reply to something written to or about me or about someting I have previously commented upon. I hope your readers have found my comments to be fair and reasoned even if you do not.

  42. I find them to be poorly argued and based on false assumptions.

  43. And, let me add this. Every comment you’ve left on this blog defends bad haredi behavior. Why is that?

  44. The Uncola

    You did great, noclue!

    (we’re not related even though we share a lot of letters. Put a hat on noclue and shake it up, and you have The Uncola.)

  45. The Uncola

    Sharya,

    Injecting some fairness into the discussions which follow your mendacious accusations against “the Chareidim” is not the same as defending bad chareidi behavior. What is being defended is the great majority of chareidim who are well behaved.

  46. Noclue

    The reason that my comments only defend Charedi behaviour is that when I agreed with
    your criticisms I did not feel compelled to write “I Agree.”

    Just for example, you will not find any comment of mine on any posts about sexual abuse.

  47. Yochanan Lavie

    Most chareidim are fine individuals whom I love as fellow Jews (even if I disagree with their ideology). However, whenever some behave badly it is a tremendous Chillul Hashem. Unfortunately, they are seen by others (non-Jews, non-religious Jews) as truly “authentic” because of their Fiddler on the Roof outfits. (I think one can be “authentic” in non-ethnic, modern garb). Therefore, if some chareidim act boorishly, unethically, or ilegally, it reflects badly on the entire torah. That might be an unfair burden to that population, but they choose to stand out.

    Furthermore, while I can respect the erudition of rabbinic leadership, I think they don’t speak out often enough against misbehavior. I also think their erudition does not extend to other areas of life other than limudei kadosh. One can be a “bukky” in shas, but ignorant in life.

    I am not God, nor was I a fly on the wall at that particular restaurant. One can quibble over the legal niceties of this situation. However I have witnessed enough boorish behavior in kosher establishments to make me cringe (by MO as well as chareidim). Although I am an apikorus, I am mostly observant, but my mother is not. I am often embarassed to have her eat with me in such places. The behavior of some of the clientele makes her uncomfortable- (not their kippot- she’s live & let live).

    Finally: it’s important to hear other p.o.v.’s. So I hope No Clue keeps contributing, even though I usually disagree with him.

  48. Ahavah bat Sarah

    How about we actually pay restaurant workers a living wage instead of trying to extort it from the customers to avoid paying more payroll taxes? Isn’t it a violation of Torah to screw people on their wages?

  49. As per this article:

    http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2007/01/16/where_xenophobi.php

    in New York, at least, any increased gratuity would have to be posted on the menu, and in any case be capped at 15%. Although I don’t know what tte rule is in Newton, it’s very likely that the restaurant was acting illegally.

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