Team Madison lost the scavenger hunt on the July 5 episode of the NBC reality show “I Want To Be a Hilton” — but not before encountering what they mistakenly thought to be an Amish man in a mobile home.
“We walked up to these two ‘Amish men’ and asked if they could help us with this clue,” said Latricia, a 31-year-old single mom and motor vehicles clerk from Inglewood, Calif, in a subsequent interview aired during the show.
But it turned out that the bearded men were actually Chabad rabbi Levi Baumgarten and an associate. And the vehicle was Baumgarten’s Mitzvah Tank, which he positions at heavy thoroughfares throughout Manhattan’s Wall Street and Midtown districts. The tank has average weekly turnover of some 400 people.
When informed by an off-screen interviewer of her mistake, Latricia responded: “They weren’t Amish!?! But they had those… those Shirley Temple curls.”
In fact, Lubavitch Hasidim do not generally grow side curls — and a review of the episode appears to confirm that Baumgarten does not sport side locks.
As for Baumgarten, he wasn’t buying any of it.
“I think it was a fake,” Baumgarten said of the confusion. “The Mitzvah Tank is a part of Manhattan. Everyone knows what we are, a synagogue on wheels.”
In any case, Baumgarten said, “If having the tank on the show promotes Judaism, brings a Jew closer, or inspires a non-Jew to feelings of warmth and thoughts about God and [the messiah], then it’s all worth it.”
This story "Funny, He Doesn’t Look Amish" was written by Shoshana Olidort.