Wrestling with God

In honor of the July 4th weekend, we decided to profile a great American — not a founding father, not a flag-waving fanatic, and not a fireman, funnyman, or felon. Greg Herman is a patriot in our book because he’s a living embodiment of being a Jewish American.
Consider his wild life story: He used to be a professional wrestler. Now he’s an Orthodox auto mechanic.

Walk into the A Plus Auto Shop a block away from the Dekalb County Courthouse in downtown Decatur and the cognitive dissonance practically smacks you in the face. By no stretch of the imagination is this your typical mechanic’s garage. A Hebrew Beavis and Butthead poster shares wall space with a car parts calendar. A photo of the saintly Lubavitcher Rebbe hangs alongside one of pro-wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. It’s a purposely dichotic mood set by the twisted mind of Greg Herman, the shop’s 40-year-old owner.
Yeah, he may look like any other of a dozen auto mechanics you’ve come across over the years of strange brake noises and broken Johnson Rods. You know what we mean: The tattered baseball cap, the scruffy facial hair, the weathered hands covered with smudges of black grease that make you think twice before shaking hands. The sweat stained and sunburned machismo that can only come from keeping your head under a hood for 12 hours a day.
So far, so typical. But then he says something so utterly incongruous with who he appears to be that you actually have to stop and sit for a moment on one of the many random and battered car parts that litter the four-bay garage. “I hope all my children become rabbis,” he says with a straight face. Yeah, he ain’t your typical mechanic. And since we’re already breaking down stereotypes, we might as well let you in on one more secret: Greg Herman used to be known as Demon “The Madman from Miami” Hellstorm, a professional wrestler.
Make no mistake. You don’t want to mess with this guy. Look at him closely and you realize Herman could be a ticking time bomb. If you were to cross him, he seems to have the uncanny ability to reach out from this page, grab you by the collar, and shake the living daylights out of you.

Read the full story in AJL Magazine.

8 thoughts on “Wrestling with God

  1. Why is it… tough blue collar Jews are somer kind of fucking novelty. I’m 6 feet tall, have worked as a bouncer, security… and frankly was insulted by this article. People like me are not a fucking spectacle. Piss on this article. I think it’s elitist.

  2. You’re a novelty because demographically you’re a minority. Jews have been trying to get “wealthy and safe” for so long, in so many countries where manual labor was *Forbidden to them by law*, that we’re practically an ethnos of lawyers and accountants by now, which I think is pretty sad.
    Many early Zionists’ ideal of the Jewish State involved tons of Jewish farmers and other laborers doing all the work themselves.
    I think this is great: “In the back of his garage, amidst the valuable antique cars that Herman fixes up, lies one of his most treasured items: A large menorah he made for his son out of scrap metal and sparkplugs.” When the Gemara addresses doing mitsvot beautifully, that’s what Chazal are really talking about — not going to the rip-off Judaica store and buying some gold-plated blinged tashmishei-kedusha you put no effort into creating, but giving the mitsva personal meaning by building its kli yourself.
    Imagine the mishkan were being built today – would you really want it constructed by exploited foreign labor? That’s what too many white-collar yehudim today would be okay with, in my opinion.

  3. That’s a self-replicating crock of shit.
    We’re phenotypically predetermined because of a closed gene pool?
    Bullshit. Out history in America proves this: Western pioneers, gangsters, boxers, weightlifters, athletes. The bookish Jews of your steretypes live side by side with Daniel Mendoza, Sandy Kofax, and Pep Strauss.

  4. ..Monk, how many Jewish western pioneers,gansters,boxer s ect.. do you know today? This is not a role common to Jews in America anymore.
    As far as your stature argument, I’m 6’5 and am a good head taller than anyone when I step into my shul. As much as I would like to think that nobody notices this and I’m not a specticle, I know I am. If you want to think differently, fine, but you’re in some dillussional world.
    I can see where this article could be elitist bullshit, but your arguments hold no merit. If I didn’t enjoy it because I hold people like him in extremely high esteem, I’d probably share your sentiment.
    By the way, I’m an accountant who works on his own vehicles and skilled in manual labor. You want to see a spectacle, get to know me and my abounding stereotypes and surrounding contradictions.

  5. 1) Jewish athletes: http://www.jewishsports.com/
    2) Jewish gangsters: I can go to Bensonhurst or Brighton Beach if I’m really desperate for that type of exposure. But I assure you – they exist. In metric tonnes. I could see how perhaps a suburban Jew might not know they exist – they do NOT make the news, I assure you.
    3) I grew up with Jews who were the children of machine shop workers, mechanics, and teachers. One of them went on to become chiefe engineer on an Alaskan fishing boat and now runs a bar in Phillie, another ended up a junkie, and another ended up a cop upstate. Shit, the other day just walking my dog here in the Bronx; I ran into a dude bigger than me – ex Special Forces, now teaching in Soundview – and only 26 years old.
    I think it is delusional and dangerous for we as a people to buy into stereotypes about who we are and what our perceived roles have become in America. The Jews *I* know are certainly outside this box you seem to think we live in: the Cerebral White Collar Accountant/Doctor/Lawye r/Financier is not a salient archetype, and these days, is almost a joke. And apparently one that this article bought into.
    “An Orthodox mechanic who used to be a pro wrestler? WOW! How alarmingly weird! Let’s show it to the rest of our people! After all, it’s so RARE to see a tough Jew working with his hands!”
    Piss on that. It’s a safe suburban living room lie.

  6. hazk Monk,
    Jewish nerd has been bought and packaged not only to the rest of the world, but by Jews. To such an extent that anyone outside is brushed aside as a mere exception. Most Jews in Israel are workers, no?In my local shul [i’m typing from Australia] there is a mechanic; my cousin is a landscape gardener; and there’s a builder. A lot of the Israeli travellers who pass throuh Australia get jobs in construction. And don’t forget about the “spiritual proletariat” of shochtim, scribes, mohels, butchers, mashgiachs etc. The Jewish working class is strong and proud!

  7. I don’t see anything to be overly upset about in this article. He sounds like an interesting guy.
    I agree that there are certain Jewish stereotypes, and some of us fit them and some don’t.
    I’m college-educated, and work for my family’s business. My brother is a vice-president and salesperson, and I drive a delivery truck. I LIKE driving the truck, and consider myself more of a blue-collar worker, but I spend my leisure time at bookstores and libraries, not at bars, and am more interested in computers than car repair.
    To each his own 🙂

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