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The Schmooze

Jewish Superhero, Protecting the Weak

Chaim Lazaros is a real-life superhero. Several nights a week he transforms into an alterego named Life. Donning a black domino mask, fedora and skinny tie, he stuffs a backpack full of drinks and snacks, and patrols the streets of New York City while distributing the life-saving goods to the homeless.

Life, 25, is one of half dozen real-life superheroes in New York, and 250-300 worldwide. In 2007, he and Ben Goldman, 23 — who goes by the moniker Cameraman and who documents the superhero movement on a video camera — founded Superheroes Anonymous, an organization that provides support for the real-life superheroes who dress up in costumes and walk the streets, protecting the vulnerable and warding off crime.

Each superhero takes on a unique role. Chris Pollak “Dark Guardian,” 25, rallies against drug dealers in Washington Square Park, while Arjuna Ladino, 42, and Shanti Owen, 50 — an engaged pair of relationship counselors known collectively as the Transformational Warriors — dress up in patriotic spandex outfits and spread the word of love.

Life, who wears tzitzit and covers his head, says he draws on the Jewish values he was raised with — his parents are Chabad emissaries in Framingham, Mass. — while performing his superhero duties. As a peyes-sporting kid in a New England suburb, Life says he learned early on to be comfortable with “looking different” and with having people look to him as “a symbol of something.”

In addition to garnering publicity, the costumes that Life and his cohorts wear serve as a reminder. Each time he puts on his costume, says Life, “I have to say to myself now I’m a superhero, I have to have higher ideals… I’m not just Chaim.”

Check out the video below.

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