Satmar Jews In Brooklyn Upset By Tourist Stares And Photos, Especially On Shabbos

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The Chassidic Satmar community in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., is tired of tourists treating them like “animals” in a zoo by flocking to their communities to take pictures of them, the New York Post reported.

“People snap pictures of you like you’re on some sort of display—like you’re in a zoo. We are people, not animals to be photographed,” said Chaim, 42, from the Satmar community.

Sightseeing groups head into Williamsburg and the nearby neighborhood of Crown Heights, home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, several times a week.

In fact, three bus companies offer “contrast” tours of various cultural communities across the boroughs. The tours have been taking place for years, though Max Hauer, 41, said “lately, they’re out there every day by the hundreds, and it’s become a ‘must see’ for tourists.” He credits the recent cultural obsession with Orthodox Judaism to Netflix’s documentary “One of Us” and the Israeli cable-TV series “Shtisel.”

The tours also boost outdated stereotypes about the ultra-Orthodox community, which upsets locals.

Hauer said “I’ve tried to engage with these visitors, but they aren’t interested to learn more about us. They see me as a freak. They see us as people from another world, [and] if you’re not seen as human, then they think it’s OK to take photos and stare.”

Both Jewish communities date back to Eastern European shtetl life and the roots of Chassidism.

Hauer is often photographed without his consent and said tourists get most excited coming to the community on Saturdays, on Shabbat, to see local men wear large fur hats called shtreimels.

“Whenever I go to synagogue … they’ll all start snapping photos in front of my face,” he said.

The Algemeiner   (c) 2019 .         Benjamin Kerstein



  1. it is fairly easy to understand why tourists, especially ones who have never seen religious Jews, would be curious to watch them in their neighborhoods. On top of that, observing people dressed in full length coats and fur hats, during the hot New York summers, is rather interesting. To visitors, that is like for us witnessing a Native American pueblo.

  2. Have they forgotten that we’re still golus among non-Jews? Wouldn’t chassidim stare at people wearing fur hats and coats in 99 degrees weather or at men walking the streets with white long “shawls” that have weird looking black and white stripes?
    Chassidim to them are no different than E.T.s Wouldn’t chassidim stare at an E.T. who are becoming more and more common?

  3. Or perhaps many of the tourists are simply interested in seeing how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, i.e. Section 8, HEAP, SNAP, WIC, Families First programs.

    • Another possibility is to witness first-hand how one of the poorest communities in New York State can be populated by residents who own brand-new McClaren baby strollers; lease or own late model SUV’s and minivans; and can afford to own a second summer home in the Catskills.

    • A very nasty comment to make. You’re hate for fellow Yidden and your need to publicize it is a perfect way for you to enter the Yom Hadin. Good luck.

      • Just asking does the truth hurt by any chance?? Now don’t get mad and call me names. I’m just asking a question. You can say no. But if you’re being honest with yourself I bet you the truth really hurt right there

        • Just asking does the truth hurt by any chance?

          No it doesn’t. And quite frankly it isn’t “the truth” either.

          While I’m sure there are many anti-Semites among the tourists I doubt they have your degree of antisemitism or are looking for your specific talking point.

  4. BIG MISTAKE , THOSE CHASSIDIM can CHange the world for good

    Better they should learn English, Hebrew etc to educate the world than live sheltered lives. This is NY 2019 not shtetl 1930.
    Just the fact they walk around with many children , modestly, etc affects influences yishuv ha olam. Shabbath Shalom

  5. The Amish thrive on tourism. If the chasidim had some ingenuity, they will establish tours of Williamsburg which would include a visit to the satmar rebbe, check out the mikvaois, tour of some fancy upscale houses , and the local matzah bakery

  6. Being “Guests” in “Golus” for the past 2000 years, I think it advisable for ‘Chareidi Yidden” to keep a ‘lower’ & more ‘subdued’ profile in public. Especially in ‘Frum’ neighborhoods, where a Kosher Eruv probably exists; walking with ‘Talis’ & “Shtrimel” in the street, on Shabbos is not in our best interests.
    I believe, that some prominent Rabbonim have in the past, expressed a similar view on the pages of ‘Matzav”.

  7. These tour busses are bringing foreigners from China and France etc. They are not Americans. They do not even speak English. I know this first hand, as I observed them coming for quite some time now. I’m not sure what they are told that strikes an interest for them to come and check it out.

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