Chanukah Spent in Otisville

Chanukah Spent in Otisville

During the holiday of Chanukah the blueboyz let each Jewish inmate light his own personal menorah in the Jewish chapel.  Thats about 60 menorahs.  By the eighth night that’s almost five hundred candles and oil burning in the chapel.  Talk about a fire hazard.

Some Jews get the wax candles, while Jews with more seniority, ie., longer sentences and more clout, get the containers of olive oil.  There was a special Chanukah party for the Jewish inmates, complete with a Hasidic rock singer named Yaacov Shwecky.  During the party each Jewish inmate got rationed two donuts.  If you wanted more than two donuts you were out of luck.  Unless you were a Gentile with Jew connections, then you got at least one doughnut.  How does the Jewish “gabbai”, ie., the Jewish inmate appointed by the blueboyz to keep the Jews in line, keep track of all these doughnuts?  The gabbai makes a list of Jews.  He checks it twice.   He determines if you were naughty or nice.  If you were nice, he hands you two doughnuts.

The traditional Chanukah potato pancakes, ie, latkes, were prepared by the Jewish inmates who work in the kosher kitchen.  The latkes were rationed out just like the doughnuts.

Many Jewish inmates attended the concert.  No Jew left behind.  Even the two inmates named Moskowitz.  There are two guys locked up in here named Moskowitz.  Moskowitz the father, and Moskowitz the son.  Moskowitz the father married an Italian girl, so the son is not considered a Jew, as his mother is not Jewish.  On the outside the Moskowitz family identifies as Roman Catholic.  Moskowitz the father was never baptized.  Moskowitz the son is a serious Catholic.  Moskowitz the son has a tatoo of the son on his arm.  The Hasidic inmates who run the prison allowed both Moskowitz guys, tatoos and all, into the Chanukah party and gave them doughnuts and latkes.  Most people think that Hasidim are fanatics and closed minded.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It was the Catholics who closed the doors on the Moskowitz family when they tried to get into the annual inmate Christmas dinner organized by the Catholic blueboy chaplain. Moskowitz the son was allowed into the dinner by the Catholic chaplain.  Moskowitz the father was driven out of the manger because he was not Catholic enough, he had too much Jewish blood in his system.

Not many Catholic guys attend the blueboy sponsored Catholic events.  I don’t think they like the Catholic blueboy prison chaplain. Most of the Catholic inmates are either Italian or Irish. The blueboy Catholic chaplain is from somewhere in Africa or possibly the Islands.  He speaks with a heavy accent, wears red suits, has gold chains around his neck, drives a fancy car, and reminds you of a street corner preacher.

Spending the holidays in jail can be very depressing.  The blueboyz try to liven things up with wooden sleighs and reindeers placed outside in the visitors area.  The blueboyz also hand out a “Hug A Thug” bag to each inmate.  The Head Blueboy In Charge (HBBIC) of the prison hands out a paper bag to each inmate.  Each bag contains pretzels, potato chips, cookies, nuts, candy and other junk food.  The HBBIC smiles when he hands you a bag and says, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Xmas.”  The food gets traded throughout the prison.  Some guys like pretzels and don’t like chocolate bars. Other guys like chocolate bars and don’t like pretzels.

Spending the holidays in prison is bitter sweet.  You are happy because it is the holiday season. At the same time you miss your friends, family, and freedom more than you would during the rest of the year.  Some guys are lucky and get furloughs to go home for the holidays.  Most don’t.  The worst part about getting a furlough to go home for a couple of days is that you have to come back to the prison.  This can be very depressing, especially after you had a few days of freedom.


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