No barns were raised when Hasidic Jews and the Amish joined together on the streets of Brooklyn yesterday, but eyebrows sure were.

The 25-strong Amish contingent made the trip by yellow school bus from Lancaster, Pa., to Crown Heights for a second annual guided tour of the life and culture of the Lubavitcher sect.

“It’s interesting to see how the Jews live and what they believe,” said Elmer Fisher, 37.

“The tradition is similar. They believe what their fathers believed — which is how we believe.”

Rabbi Beryl Epstein, who has been giving tours of Hasidic life since 1982, noted the culture swap makes perfect sense.

“They don’t have too many places they can visit where they can be reassured their beliefs will be respected,” he said.

“If they go to Times Square, that’s not gonna work.”

The two sects both choose to live simple lives at odds with the larger society. “They also have large families and earn an honest living,” Epstein said.

And, of course, their tastes in headwear run pretty much the same.

But there are important differences.

“For one thing, they are fundamentalist Christians,” Epstein said after taking the visitors to the Hasids’ main synagogue on Eastern Parkway, the rebbe’s library, and a Passover matzo factory.

In addition, the Amish lead a pastoral existence working the land, eschewing modern technology and ending formal schooling at seventh or eighth grade.

The Lubavitch, on the other hand, live urban lives, embrace modern technology and study into their 20s, Epstein said.

Still, Jacob Blank, 49, a married Amish father of five who manufactures farm machinery, figured he could see living in Brooklyn.

“I suppose you can adapt, because with Jesus Christ in your life, you can adapt to most circumstances,” he reasoned.

After taking in the sights and sounds in Crown Heights, the visitors dined at Esther’s Deli on Albany Avenue.

“It was very good,” Blank declared of his meal, a shawarma on laffa, or shaved meat on flatbread.

The group then got back on their bus and continued taking in the city’s Jewish life at the Living Torah Museum in Borough Park.


“In some things, we are alike, like our clothing and our traditional beliefs,” John Lapp said.

His wife, Priscilla added, “And in some things we are not. The biggest thing is that Jesus is our savior.”

Still, the tourists were charmed.

“It’s a new experience — a lot of interesting people,” Blank said, confessing he took the tour out of “curiosity, mostly.”

What really caught Blank’s eye, he said, was “watching people cross into the street. People were just walking into traffic,” he marveled.

If the Lubavitch were to travel to Pennsylvania Dutch country, Epstein said, “That would be purely for tourism.”

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