This morning in Otisville prison camp, the Jewish guys in the chapel voted on who was going to lead prayers for the upcoming Yom Kippur prayer services. The voting was moderated by the prison chaplain, an officer in the camp, who is also a rabbi. Whenever there is a vote in the Jewish chapel there are always accusations of corruption. The general rule is that you can only vote if you attend services on a regular basis. But the chaplain bends the rules when guys complain that they want to vote regardless. But when the chaplain allows guys to vote, who shouldn’t technically be allowed to vote, the other guys complain. Everyone wants to stack the deck and get their candidate nominated.
In this vote Artie won as chazzen (prayer leader) for the Eve of Yom Kippur, ie., Kol Nidrei. He beat out a stocky Hasidic guy from Monsey by the name of Chaim. Chaim had a big family, and used to rent a bus to drive all his children and relatives to the prison to visit him. Chaim is very religious. Artie likes to sing the prayers and could care less about the religious aspect. Artie could be a professional singer if he wanted.
The 79 year old ornery Satmar Schlesinger was angry that Artie won. Schlesinger could not understand how Artie could lead religious services when he wasn’t even religious. Schlesinger comes from a world where only the Satmars matter, everyone else is a goy. Ari Glucksman won the vote to lead services for the final prayer, Neilah. Schlesinger was not happy about Ari either. Some of the more religious guys considered holding alternative services somewhere else. But where could they go? Pray with the deer outside? They ended up staying in the chapel listening to Artie belt out the tunes. I’ll bet you could hear Artie all the way in Brooklyn.
Nobody ever voted for shofar (ram’s horn) blower. That honor always went to Schlesinger, even though his 79 year old lungs have seen better days. He could hardly get much of a sound out of the ram’s horn. One year a young Lubavitcher guy by the name of Shikker wanted to blow the shofar himself, and didn’t care to hear Schlesinger. After Schlesinger blew, Shikker took the horn and blew away, which angered strongman inmate Jacobowitz, who runs the Jewish chapel with an iron fist. There was some yelling and fighting, pushing and shoving. In the end Schlesinger and Jacobowitz left the chapel while Shikker blew the shofar.
My friend Jerry, a tax lawyer from Connecticut, who works with me in the kitchen, was suddenly taken out of the kitchen and sent next door to the medium by the blueboyz. Nobody told him why he was being sent there. Guys were worried that he was in trouble. He was there for hours. Some of the guys convinced a blueboy to call next door to see what was going on. The camp blueboy couldn’t get any information, which made the guys even more worried.
Eventually Jerry made it back to the camp. He was interrogated by the internal investigation blueboyz about email correspondence he was having with a guy on the outside who had just been indicted. Jerry apparently didn’t know the guy was indicted. You are not supposed to communicate with other criminals. There was some accusation that Jerry was giving the guy tax advice from prison. Jerry wouldn’t be the first inmate who was practicing law in prison. Everyone used to joke about attorney Turner, who had all kinds of files stored in his cubicle. It’s easier to get away with illegally practicing law in prison than illegally practicing law on the outside. If you illegally practice law on the outside the blueboyz can lock you up. If you are in jail practicing law, what are they going to do, lock you up? You are already locked up.
A guy who was visiting his brother in prison recognized me today. This guy used to work for the now defunct A-1 Mortgage, out of Naugatuck. A-1 Mortgage was run by a guy named Connolly. The Feds took hundreds of his files away for review after the market crash of 2008. The Feds were investigating almost every mortgage broker, realtor and closing lawyer in town after the crash. The little fish. The big fish banks got away. The guy I was locked up with did some mortgages at A-1. I vaguely recognized him, as I used to go to A-1 and do an occasional closing. A-1 could best be described as a “Wolf of Wall Street” operation. There were druggies, strippers and all kinds of odd characters pushing mortgages for the big banks like Chase and Wells Fargo. There was even a leader of the Hell’s Angels who was pushing mortgages for A1. A guy by the name of “Bear.” Nice guy. He was killed by a rival gang while he was riding his motorcycle just before the real estate market crashed. The guys at A-1 left his desk, pictures, rifle and animal mount exactly as they were, out of respect. You don’t mess with Bear’s stuff.