Hasidic Brooklyn

Walking in the Hasidic portion of Williamsburg in Brooklyn is a bit of a surreal and anachronistic relish. I found this isolated neighborhood, home of the ultra-orthodox Satmar community, particularly photogenic as it seems suspended in time and contrasts heavily with the continuous metamorphosis observed in adjacent neighborhoods.

On Saturdays, during Shabbat, bearded men wearing modest uniforms and wide fur hats always seem in a hurry, while women covered with dark, long-sleeved dresses and turbans quietly push their strollers in residential streets where a sheer number of houses have barred windows. On Lee Avenue, the epicenter of the religious community, a multitude of small synagogues, rabbinic academies, shops, grocer’s, Yiddish and Hebraical posters pulse the life of the locality.

Taking photographs in Hasidic Williamsburg can be awkward. You clearly feel you are disturbing and pedestrians are here to remind you of your incursion. While capturing the intense and unusual urban scenery, I have received quite a number of hostile looks. Not long ago, I’ve been encircled by a bunch of kids who told me I was an “evil man”. Since their arrival from Europe after World War II., Hasidim have created a detached island, a few stops away from Manhattan, where sociological walls were built to re-create a traditional “shtetl” lifestyle and to protect them from change.

Today, the feelings of autarky and rejection are even stronger as the community faces the rise of gentrification in northern Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick, where residential towers are inaugurated every month. Community leaders fear for the neighborhood’s identity as well as for the educational dilemma of teaching Hasidic youth according to the methods of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism with the annoying proximity of immorality.

Here are a couple of images I have taken between Winter 2009 and Spring 2011.

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Williamsburg Bridge

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Indoctrinated

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Williamsburg Series

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

Felty hats

Hasidic Brooklyn

Hasidic Brooklyn

More images on my flickr

Words and Images by Charles le Brigand
All rights reserved. Une production de Brigand © 2011

Comments
7 Responses to “Hasidic Brooklyn”
  1. Thanks for posting! How did you decide on B&W?

  2. John F. says:

    Viewing these photos and images makes it seem like the hasidic lifestyle is a self imposed prision. Much of the housing looks like foreboding jails and self expression is non existent.

  3. SP says:

    Pure genius!

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  1. [...] charleslebrigand.com/2011/05/14/hasidic-brooklyn-2/ [...]

  2. [...] Charles le Brigand’s photo essay about north Brooklyn’s Satmar community by clicking here. It’s a compelling read! Tags: 11211 Satmar Southside Southside [...]



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