Mogen P.I.?

By Alex Maghen

IT WOULD SEEM THAT THERE’S A BRISK BUSINESS in private investigation within the Hassidic community in the U.S. The New York Times reported on Joe Levin who provides services for everything from high-finance business deals to the far higher-stakes category of quality assurance in prospective fiancés. Many of these Hassidic communities are extremely insular. Safe to say that the more “standard-fare” secular private investigator lurking around the mikvas and minyans would hardly go unnoticed. This is a world in which “plain-clothed” means payos and a long black coat in 90 degree weather. More than that, imagine sending Magnum PI to report back on the “Frum Level” of a potential son-in-law. No, for this kind of thing, the Hassidic community has hired from within.

No question that, within the limits of the law, any person or community has the right to “background-check” itself and its members. But in communities as large, as closed, and as strong-willed as these, the idea of what could easily develop into a shadow religious police force raises parallels with the Mormons of Utah.

Still, considering the uncomfortable percentage of Jewish names so deeply involved in the Banking catastrophe of the past few years, perhaps we should consider gathering donations for a more secular Jewish Self-Policing Fund to sniff out and expose the schvantzes amongst us.

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