COVID-19 tour updates & information

COVID-19 tour updates & information


New York State has closed all non-essential businesses. All tours will be suspended indefinitely. I will miss meeting wonderful people on the tour and I hope you all stay safe. If you are booked for a tour in the future, please get in touch with me via email at I am slowly working through my calendar and taking care of cancellations. Please check back in the brighter future for a tour or two. Also, please follow my other work like my blog and my upcoming podcast.


As many of you are already aware, New York declared a state of emergency yesterday in light of the threat COVID-19 poses. Broadway will shut down, the St. Paddy’s Day parade is cancelled, and most major New York attractions will be closed indefinitely. Additionally, with the European travel ban, many who had scheduled a visit to New York will sadly not be able to see their plans come to fruition. This is a devastating, confusing, difficult time for many around the world.

So I wanted to say first that I am deeply sorry for anyone worldwide who is suffering with coronavirus, who has watched loved ones fall ill, and to those whose day-to-day lives and incomes are being upended by this completely unexpected turn in world health.

Second, on a more personal level, I wanted to keep you up to date with how this will affect any tours you may have booked with me during this state of emergency lock down. My tour policy follows that of the Guides Association of New York, and therefore my small group tours are still running. You can stay updated by following the Guide’s Twitter via the hyperlink above. I am so terribly sorry to anyone from overseas who will be unable to visit New York and go on their tour. If your travel plans have been disrupted, I will hold a credit on file for your booking. This can be converted into a gift card as well. I will also be offering travel insurance on future bookings so that people who worry about making plans right now can book confidently, knowing they can change those plans if need be. This travel insurance feature should be up and available in the next few days.

Again, my apologies to anyone whose travel plans have been altered, and I extend my best intentions and love to all those affected by this virus. Take care and stay safe.

  • Joan L. Forman
    Posted at 17:10h, 14 March Reply

    I’m a retired Philadelphia, Pennsylvania teacher age 78 who grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania as one of very few Jewish children in the public schools. Today surfing the web, I found your writings. I’m glad you have changed your life and hope all is well with you, your son/family/friends/community. Best wishes, Joanie

  • Heddie Zinman
    Posted at 09:48h, 01 April Reply

    Hi Frieda
    I am just wondering how members of the Satmar community feel about you giving tours in their neighborhood?

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 09:56h, 01 April Reply

      Good question. The Yiddish magazine Der Veker did an interview with me. I should do an interview back with them to try to get to the bottom of it.

      I’ve been giving tours in Hasidic Williamsburg for seven years, so some people have definitely just gotten used to me. I think no one really loves it, but some are humored/intrigued. Some appreciate that I try to be respectful. The negative reactions are two variations:

      1) she is coming to bash us
      2) she turns us into a zoo

      I think I got 1 down; it’s just not true. I am interested in an anthropological sense; not to make anyone look bad.
      But for 2, it’s always a gray area. I try to deal focus the tour on the non-people parts of the area: window shopping, architecture and its religious purpose, street signs, contents in toy stores, kosher tech stores, bakeries, my visual aids (maps, etc). I also spend almost all of my business overhead in the community. But I still don’t feel like it’s a hundred percent okay. There are still days I worry that it’s exploitative. But… I think the sum effect of my tours are positive and I really need to earn a living and I mean well, so….

  • K. Leung
    Posted at 16:01h, 03 April Reply

    Hi Frieda,
    Excellent balanced review of Unorthodox on Netflix! I did enjoy the show very much. However, you are absolutely right that any dehumanizing portray of characters, of any subject culture, is just not helpful for the viewers. Thank you.

  • Meera Kumar
    Posted at 11:56h, 10 April Reply

    Hi Frieda! I came across your tours after reading more about the Satmar community after watching the Netflix show Unorthodox which piqued my interest. I live very close by–in Bed Stuy and would love to do a tour sometime post-corona. Hope you’re keeping well.

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 12:03h, 10 April Reply

      I’m missing the tours. Hope to be out there again meeting you all soon.

  • Yana Lysenko
    Posted at 22:14h, 13 April Reply

    Hi Frieda,

    I listened to your podcast episode on “The Longest Shortest Time” last year, and find myself thinking about you sometimes because I was so touched by your resilience and strength. I just read your article in “Forward” about the show “Unorthodox” and was excited to see your name on it! I’m not Jewish, but I hope that soon, after the Corona crisis eases up, I will be able to finally meet you and learn more about Hasidic Williamsburg (I live in Brooklyn) and your experiences. Stay safe, and let us know if there’s any way we can support you, since you can’t make money doing tours right now. Sending you my very best in these difficult times!

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 20:02h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you for the message, Yana. I appreciate it a lot during these weird and scary times. I haven’t worked normally in what feels like forever. I often wish I had gotten into a different line of work and I wonder if it might not be too late to change course! It encourages me to hear from people who plan to come on the tour, especially if you’re local. I don’t know how soon international tourism will return.

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