The Satmars take Crown Heights.

Living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn one runs into the Lubavitch/Chabad Jewish community regularly as its their spiritual headquarters.  770 Eastern Parkway, a couple blocks from me, is where their Grand Rebbe/Messiah, Rebbe Schneerson,  lived and worked for the 50 odd years. This sect of Hasidic Jews are Kabbalists and celebrate life at every opportunity (they seem to have a holiday every week) by ruckus dancing, drinking and singing.  Very much different from them are the Satmars. These folks are more serious.  Hose up, buttoned down, dressed like as if they are in Lithuania in 1700, their super insular and adhere to very strict codes of religious life. This often leads to heated and interesting interactions with other New York communities in and around their community in Williamsburg. They segregate their public busses, protest bike lanes because of women wearing shorts, discriminate who can shop in their stores and maintain a large and untamed security force which is aligned with the NYPD.

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Recently, the Satmars had a celebration down the street from me at a 110 year old armory and seemingly every inch of the 180,000 sq. feet was filled with the $1500 fur hat wearing, bearded throngs, probably numbering around 10,000. The affair was a celebration of the anniversary of the date their grand rabbi was freed from the Holocaust. I walked in easily and shot for about an hour before security dragged me off to their head security officer on the 4 floor in the 110 year old military regiment complex.   On the walk over I pocketed my exposed film and had a fake roll to give them in case they attempted to confiscate my film (old photographer trick).  They did demand it but I refused and said they should call the police if they want to go any further.  After a bit of heated discussion in Yiddish they relented and escorted me out, the commanding officer saying to his flacky, “Take him out…nicely”.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. denise hardy says:

    amazing. party at 770!! i’m curious about your other photographer tricks (like swapping the film)…

    Denise Hardy 415. 860. 1044 Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 23:43:33 +0000 To:

  2. Angie says:

    Great JNY photos! You are very fortunate to have this opportunity to sneak into a Orthodox Jewish ritual. I hope you aren’t dissing my Satmar neighbors! If you whip out a photo of your mom from the 50’s she probably doesn’t look too much different. And the private schools on the upper east side probably have their own private transport. The public police aren’t necessarily representing protection for all americans. The animosity between the OJNYs have much to do with: low income housing between the poor hispanics and blacks and the JNYs, between other OJNYs its a matter of recognizing Isreal as the promised land between hipsters and them, maybe brooklynite goys are tired of turning off the lights for them. With this crisis and the downward spiral of social and economic chaos to come, we all may be praying 5 times a day too. LOL

    1. jkristal says:

      Great comment Angie! Love ur ass.

      Interesting points you’ve made. Very thoughtful.


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