Home

In the Hasidic Williamsburg Educational Walking Tour, you will be introduced to the Hasidic community that resettled here after World War II, their institutions and way of life.

The walking tour will commence with a brief overview of the three aspects of the tour:

  • the development of Williamsburg from a  small village in the 1820′s, to a city in 1851, to its consolidation with New York City in 1898, and beyond.
  • the successive stages of Jewish immigration and re-settlement in America and New York City.
  • the fascinating story of the evolution of Hasidism from an impoverished 18th-century Jewish peasant’s domain to a popular modern alternative to secularism and materialism in post WWII America.

Thereafter we embark on a leisurely stroll down Bedford Avenue –the “millionaire’s row” of the mid-nineteenth century– and behold what’s left of the stately mansions that those millionaires once inhabited, and how they evolved over the years to suit the needs of Williamsburg’s ever-changing inhabitants. Throughout the walk various elements of the three aforementioned aspects will be pointed out, with emphasis placed on contemporary Hasidic culture.

After discussing the significance of the Satmar institutions situated on Bedford Avenue and Rodeny Street we will turn into Lee Ave., the main commercial strip of Hasidic Williamsburg, where we will take note of some fascinating Hasidic consumer patterns, some of which are currently in flux (such as the recent opening of fres shops where fast food may be purchased).

We will wrap the tour up with a closer look at an older, bygone Jewish mode of living: the upper middle class, professional, assimilated-but-religious Jew. The oldest extant synagogue in Brooklyn will be observed, which is also the site of the oldest Reform congregation in Brooklyn. Also, the only surviving “Centrist” (a.k.a. “Modern”) Orthodox congregation, on the cusp of exhaling its final breath, will be observed.

This tour is the first of its kind ever to be offered in Williamsburg! Participants will be exposed to a very thorough survey of who’s who and what’s what in South Williamsburg, including the latest scoop about such matters as the Zalman-Aaron Satmar Succession Feud, various Hasidic sects and their idiosyncrasies, housing disputes, local petty politics, economic development and the like. Contemporary issues will be discussed with a view toward Jewish Williamsburg’s historical transformation, starting in the mid-nineteenth century when German Jews joined their countrymen on the journey across the Atlantic and provided the basis for Jewish settlement in Williamsburg for many years to come.

You will learn extensively about the enormous wave of Russian-Polish Jews in the 1880′s-1920′s and we will note some scattered remnants from that noteworthy historical epoch. Learn how the Russian Jews differed from their German predecessors and how they paved the way for the post-WWII Hasidic Jewish settlement. You will emerge with a much deeper and better understanding of how the Williamsburg community evolved in the past decades and why. You will better understand what motivates Hasidim to remain secluded from mainstream America and how they achieve that. Best of all: learn to discern a Satmarer Hasid from a Belzer Hasid by the type of hat worn; or more subtler yet, between a Vizhnitzer Hasid and a Belzer Hasid. Now THAT’S an accomplishment.

The tour is conducted every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. during the summer season for a fixed charge of $68 per person ($48 if you wish to forgo on the educational webinar). We meet at the northeast corner of Broadway and Havemeyer Street in front of the Mcdonlad’s 267 Broadway, Brooklyn NY 11211. Our meeting site is easily accessible by MTA Transit at the Marcy Ave. train station on the J/M/Z line. See red pindrop on the map below:Corner of Broadway and Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg

The Hasidic Williamsburg walking tour takes place every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. EST. Prior registration is highly recommended but not required for cash-paying clients. (Note however that if no registrations are received for a regular tour, it MAY be cancelled without notice). Payment by check, Paypal or credit card must be received in advance as per instructions emailed to you upon registration.

We currently only run the public tour on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. If you’d like to have the tour on any other day, or if you’d like to order a private tour, or if you have any other questions or remarks please contact us.

The public Hasidic Williamsburg walking tour entails about three hours of walking roughly 1.5 miles on flat terrain and includes a 20-minute break at one of the original Hasidic restaurants in Williamsburg featuring a smorgasbord from the menu of authentic Hungarian-Hasidic cuisine.

Private tours can be customized to suit your particular area of interest, such as Hasidic lifestyle, sectional strife, residential trends, economic activities, historical developments, political alliances, Jewish immigration, etc… If research is being conducted for a book, movie or TV project, please let us know in advance and we will tailor the tour to maximize your utility from it. Research tours may involve extensive introductions and map/photographic illustrations in person or via online video conference. Please Contact us for a quote.

We cover over 100 sites in the Hasidic Triangle of South Williamsburg, including the following:

  • Yeshiva Torah Vodaath on Wilson Street
  • Viznitz shul (formerly a police station)
  • Vien shul (formerly a theatre)
  • Gottlieb’s Restaurant
  • Satmar shul on Clymer st.
  • Joel Teitelbaum House, a landmarked building
  • Frederick Mollenhauer house; currently owned by Vien
  • Independence Towers and Taylor-Wythe Towers –NYCHA public housing projects
  • Tzelemer shul (Millard F. Smith mansion)
  • Hawley mansion/Hanover Club/Young Israel
  • Yeshiva Yesode Hatorah of Adas Yereim (elliptical bay window building); currently owned by Skver
  • Satmar Rebbe R. Zalman Teitelbaum’s residential mansion
  • Rusting skeleton of new Satmar shul on Bedford Ave.
  • Ateres Avraham wedding hall
  • Rodney st. central Satmar synag. (Congregation Yetev Lev-CYL)
  • Women’s Bikur Holim (comfort of the sick) of Satmar
  • Kehal Haredim and Kolel Hibath Yerushalayim of Rebbe Meir Baal Ha-nes
  • Beth Midrash Kavanas Halev (Krasna) and Hemed Neitra (formerly Stolineh shul)
  • Cong. Yetev Lev main office, 163 Rodney st.
  • Kaff’s bakery
  • Kashau on ross st.
  • Satmar butcher store
  • Viznitz Talmud Torah Tsemach Tsadik
  • Green and Ackerman restaurant
  • BQE corner Marcy and Division
  • Williamsburg Library
  • Eastern District High School (currently Beth Rachel girl middle school)
  • Satmar Zupnik mikveh (ritual bath)
  • Yeshivah Torah Veyirah Satmar heder (boy school)
  • Beth Midrash Hisachdus Avrechim of Satmar, donated by the eminent philanthropist (the Hasidic equivalent of Carnegie) Yisroel Zupnik.
  • Beth Din Tsedek (righteous court) of Satmar
  • Grill on Lee, a modern, successful restaurant
  • Donath (hersog) wine
  • Munkatch and Belz shul
  • Vayoel Moshe wedding hall
  • YWCA (later YMHA; currently owned by Spinka)
  • “Keap st. Temple” K.K. Beth Elohim (currently Papa girl school) – oldest Congregation on the island
  • and many more…

The following Hasidic communal institutions will be expounded:

Institutions:

  • ODA (opportunity development association)
  • Keren Hatzalah, a rescue Fund for anti-Zionist Haredi schools in Israel
  • Rav Tuv (religious/spiritual support organization for estranged Jews)
  • Yad Le-achim (a lending hand for brothers, support for Russian Jewish immigrants of the 70′s-80′s)
  • CRC (central rabbinical council)
  • UJO (United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg)
  • Hevrah Hatzalah, medical rescue society
  • Shomerim (security patrol volunteer company)
  • Seneca Club (former Democratic party local organization)
  • Der Yid (Yiddish-language newspaper)
  • Beth Din Tsedek (religious judgement court)
  • Beth Midrash (study halls for Talmud)
  • Kolel (study program for married men)

Practices:

  • Mikveh (ritual bath)
  • Prayer and Torah study
  • Educational Institutions
  • Wedding customs
  • Dress peculiarities
  • Language
  • Eruv controversy (symbolic integration of properties)
  • Recent changes in fast food consumption patterns
  • post WWII artificial barriers instituted by R. Joel Teitelbaum for separation from the mainstream
  • Sukkah hut for the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles)
  • Residential expansion into “New Williamsburg”
  • and much more… 

    We are excited to announce that we now include a Hasidic Educational Webinar in our service for no additional charge. Here’s how it works:

    • You register for and attend a regular Sunday Educational Walking Tour.
    • On Sunday evening 9:00 p.m. EST you go to our video conference webinar site and join the live presentation. After a half hour presentation, we open the floor for Q&A and you get to pose all your pesky little questions and remarks about Hasidim that have been eating you for so long.

    Can’t concentrate any more after such a long day walking? No problem! A video of the event –including all Powerpoint slides, hyperlinks, graphs and photos– will be available for you to download for up to a month.

    The Hasidic Educational Webinar is meant to accompany and supplement the walking tour. We cover topics and materials that were skipped over in the tour or given short shrift for lack of time. Additionally, materials that cannot conveniently be utilized in the walking tour (such as large map illustrations, photos of Hasidic Rebbes and web links to relevant websites) will now be fully utilized.

    The webinar is an online class. It features all the conveniences of a typical modern classroom, such as an electronic whiteboard, a projector to display video and most of all, live interaction between the students and the instructor and among the students themselves. The first half hour is presentation time; after a short recess and wrap-up, we open the floor for questions both in chat and video form. What’s more, test your knowledge of the learning material by taking the online quiz after the class!

    Please note that the webinar is currently available only to customers who have purchased a ticket for the Sunday Educational Walking Tour, (though this may change in the future).

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.