American Jerusalem: Hasidic Williamsburg

Jun 04, 2022

Hello everyone, I’m back!

If I weren’t biased (and Polish),  I would’ve probably covered this enclave last, since it is by far the most interesting.

Much in the same vein as the previous ethnic groups, European Jews arrived to “Broadway Triangle” beginning in the 1880’s. Many were German, and most became secularized, with the community beginning to leave the City in the 1930’s.

In the meantime, Judaism in Eastern Europe underwent a religious revival in the form of Hasidism. Hasidism is  a counter-culture movement opposed to cultural assimilation and a hedonistic life style.

This was the case for Satmar Hasidism, a Hungarian sect founded by Joel Teitelbaum in 1905, in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei. Following the devastation of World War 2, many Satmar Jews came to New York City, settling in Brooklyn. In contrast with the other groups, Satmar Hasidism is growing rapidly, maintaining both its ethnic character and use of Yiddish in everyday life.

From personal experience, I felt like a traveler to another world when exploring the streets. Should you visit the area, I recommend being ready to experience quite the culture shock.

I can’t possibly do this enclave justice in a short blog post. I highly recommend you read both about the communities history, culture, and cuisine. Additionally, I recommend reading about Hasidic views on Artistn, or the gentrified portion of Williamsburg.

Look forward to tomorrows post!


Leave a Reply