Announcing a very special walking tour: The unexpected story of Jewish Williamsburg

Announcing a very special walking tour: The unexpected story of Jewish Williamsburg

Mark your calendars for Friday, October 14 at 11:00 a.m.

I have designed a special new walking tour for the Center for Jewish History, and if you’re in New York, you’ll be able to join me for it.

This tour centers on the unexpected story of Jewish Williamsburg. On our way, I will be detailing the story of how Williamsburg was slated to go the way of the Lower East Side, but ended up having a huge expansion of a Jewish population. Instead of throwing down old synagogues and churches and turning them into high rises, many historic buildings remain and are used by the Hasidim. Here’s more about the tour, from the CJH website:

It would be fair to call Williamsburg the Lower East Side’s lesser-known sibling. Opening in 1903, the Williamsburg bridge, which connects the Lower East Side to Williamsburg, soon came to be known as “The Jewish Highway.” Jewish immigrants, seeking to escape the crowded tenements of the Lower East Side, resettled in Williamsburg in large numbers. They brought with them all the character of similar enclaves – Yiddish, kosher butchers, and synagogues – as well as the familiar ambition of upward mobility. However, unlike the Lower East Side, Williamsburg was not soon past its heyday.

After the Holocaust, Hungarian survivors, many of whom were Hasidic, became the next wave of immigrants to make their American starter homes in Williamsburg. But this second wave did not want to move on and assimilate. They stayed in Williamsburg, despite the polluted East River, high crime, and crumbling infrastructure, and maintained their traditions. Even as North Williamsburg has been reborn as a trendy hipster enclave in recent decades, the fourth generation of Hasidim continue to thrive in South Williamsburg. Our tour will take us through this story by way of the buildings, streets, and synagogues, with a nosh of the famous Hungarian kosher baking. And, since we’ll be visiting during the week of Sukkos, the community’s lively atmosphere will enrich your experience of contemporary Jewish Williamsburg.

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that historical buildings of Hasidic Williamsburg are a special fascination and area of study for me. Over the years, I’ve documented many such buildings, which you can read more about here.

Here’s a sneak peak of the map handout you’ll be receiving on the tour:

This two-hour tour will take place rain or shine, and places are limited. So be sure to get your tickets now!

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