I wrote about the Hanover Mansion that's now the Vien's Girls School a few weeks ago. I was looking for pictures of the interior, and yesterday, I was lucky enough to be allowed in to take a few. The students all seemed to know that the significance of the building is its history as the "Rothschild Mansion". I told them that it...

Psychologist Marty Klein and visiting tourist of Williamsburg (he did not tour with me) wrote a detailed report on his blog about his experience in Williamsburg. His essay contains numerous blatant errors of fact. He writes that in the Hasidic community marriages at 14 are common (wrong), that girls rarely enter high school (wrong) that Hasidim can't speak English and only gesticulate wildly (very...

The Klausenburg Synagogue at 131 Lee Avenue, Beth Baruch, used to be a small movie theater that had just one screen and 550 seats. Because there was only one movie showing at a time and it seems, from accounts of those who went, that it was a small, intimate environment.  It was active from about the late 1920s to 1950. It was first...

This is a very interesting story of a Jehovah’s Witnesses worship house in the heart of Kiryas Joel. Kiryas Joel is the Satmar Hasidic satellite community in Orange County, New York, about an hour and a half from Williamsburg. The Satmar Rebbe Yoelish Teitelbaum founded Kiryas Joel in 1977. He had homes in Williamsburg and Kiryas Joel. Kiryas Joel is more insular...

As tonight is Shavuos, the Jewish holiday that is celebrated with a special meal of divine dairy pastries (among other festivities,) I'm doing a poll on the best dairy pastries in Williamsburg. Please vote! Because of laws of kashrus, many of the pastries you will usually find on Williamsburg's Lee Avenue will have no dairy ingredients. No cheese or butter or milk...

The Satmar Rabbi's opposition to zionism, based the three oath's cited in the Talmud, could be felt in many ways in Hasidic Williamsburg. This Biblical Hebrew (distinguished from Modern Hebrew) graffiti on a wall on Bedford Avenue reads "A Jew is not a Zionist." But there is a subtler marker in its streets that tells you Williamsburg is now influenced by Satmar anti-zionist ideology. The...

Hollywood has an interesting relationship with Hasidim. To date the movie writers and producers seemed to know little about them and not to care to know more, but what they do know or think they know, they awkwardly plug into the script at every possible opportunity. There's a very obvious effort to show off what they know, in the same...

Photo: Free Williamsburg magazine   This is from the Free Williamsburg magazine's October 2010 edition. It is a illustration of Williamsburg's colorful and contrasting population of hipsters and Hasidim. The hipster frog is riding a bike, the lion has his headphones on while his hair is grown in long - channeling some rock music personality, the cow has a lot of tattoos, the...

The book Brooklyn’s Williamsburgh by Brian Merlis goes for a whopping $300-$540 on Amazon. It took some concerted effort to get ahold of it. Luckily, I was able to get it through my college’s interlibrary loan system or I'd be broke by now! The book has an incredible assortment of pictures. Those that have Yiddish jump out to me first. Those that are of places I...

Hasidic women customarily wear a head covering after they get married. There are various types of head coverings, and each type is different not only in appearance, but also in degree of stringency. Yet the headgear doesn’t really reflect a woman's piety, because it is determined by what the family tradition is. What the mother wears, the daughter wears. On...

In many ways, I think of Vien's girls' school building as an excellent example of the rich and colorful history of Williamsburg. Jewish Williamsburg was influenced by three waves of Jewish immigration. Roughly: I. rich German Jews that settled in the first half of the 1800s, II. Eastern European Jews who emigrated in the years from approximately 1880 until the immigration quotas...

This is a really interesting example of how many phases Williamsburg has been through it its rich history. Once upon a time, the Skverer Yeshiva in Williamsburg on Heyward Street was home to America's Wonder Bread factory. They used to make Twinkies, too, as both Wonder and Hostess were owned by a baking conglomerate called Continental Baking.  Twitter user TrafficAdvisory writes "I grew up...

A visitor in Williamsburg told me today: I once stumbled upon the Hasidic community - I think it was Williamsburg - when I mistakenly got off the train at the wrong stop. It was shabbes, but I needed to get to my location, so I used my phone;s GPS. So I'm walking the streets and looking at my phone and following...

When the Williamsburg Bridge was built in 1903, Jewish immigrants spilled in from the Lower East Side. So much so, it was called "The Jew's Bridge." This migration across the river greatly attributed to the settlement of Williamsburg by orthodox Jews, and set the stage for Hasidim from Hungary and surrounding areas to settle there too when they came to...

A century ago a Christian Mission to the Jews stood in the heart of Williamsburg. A great sign "The House of the Prince of Peace" stood atop the building, and inside was, among other things, a medical clinic called the Sar Shalom Dispensary. It was founded by Leopold Cohn, a Hungarian apostate, who founded a ministry to the Jews called the...

A really interesting first person account of Hasidic Williamsburg, seemingly written by Deborah Feldman (nee Berkovic,) author of NYT Bestselling book Unorthodox. It is a description from an insider’s perspective, although the writing is a better reflection of the style of writing among high school students than of a reliable personal opinion.  Thank you to the former classmate for sharing! Here’s the text: "I know...

One of my favorite books that describe contemporary Hasidic life -- and probably one of the least known -- is Teacha; Storeis from a Yeshiva. The book only gives us a sliver of a glimpse into the community, through the eyes of Gerry Albarelli, a non-Jew who was hired to be a teacher in the Satmar boy’s school. Albarelli writes...