He was on his way to a picnic with friends from a recovery community.
Hershkowitz met with The Times of Israel outside the Sydney Jewish Museum, a few days after he presented at Yom Limmud in Sydney.
It is a wintry day Down Under and he is wearing black jeans and a red T-shirt.
“We studied gemara, mishnah and chumash,” Hershkowitz says, referring to various texts of the ancient oral law and Bible. I had a folder for ‘best in class,’” he says with a hint of irony.
It is this subpar education which, he claims, has caused the community to be crippled by poverty, beset with ignorance and reliant on government funding for virtually all aspects of life. Which is wrong because in some cases they should,” Hershkowitz says.
SYDNEY, Australia — On his Instagram page, there is a photo of Ari Hershkowitz wearing a virtual reality headset.
It pretty much sums up his story: an escape from one world to another.He has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account and appears to be on call.Every now and again he needs to be reminded where he left off in the conversation.But it’s what he calls its skewed values and the importance accorded to trivial things which he remembers most vividly. Hershkowitz’s behavior became erratic, or, as he puts it: “I was a very wild kid and always getting into trouble.” Two years later, during a summer camp in Napanoch, a small hamlet in Ulster County, New York, he says he was assaulted again. “They held me down to a bed, I managed to get free. It seemed like five hours before my private tutor came to look for me. I was tied up and my tutor saw me,” says Hershkowitz. In fact, some of them specifically told me that if they had to testify they would say that it never actually happened. “I love vodka,” he laughs, “It’s my all time favorite. To finance his habits, he says he used imaginative and creative ways to earn money. “To this day, 99 percent of the community don’t know that dilated pupils means stimulants.“What our eyeglasses were made of was very important. What counts is the color of your socks, which shoe you tie first in the morning. The “punishment,” he says, continued for a number of weeks, in the basement of the synagogue. He couldn’t, because that would mean he’d have to report it to the police — something he would never do. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and tried to fight back with that. He repeats, “He definitely saw me tied up.” The perpetrators, says Hershkowitz, continued working at the camp. So, realistically, there is nothing I can now do about it,” he says. I drink it neat.” The path to harder substances was just a matter of time. When anyone asked me about my pupils, I told them I needed glasses. By this time Hershkowitz had begun seeing a series of therapists — licensed and not — who prescribed psychiatric medication, starting from age 10.I then took on the identity of Alex, who was never a Hasidic Jew,” Hershkowitz says. “I don’t remember much of my early life,” Hershkowitz says.