A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg by Nathaniel Deutsch, Michael Casper
The Hasidic community in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is famously one of the most separatist, intensely religious, and politically savvy groups of people in the entire United States. Less known is how the community survived in one of the toughest parts of New York City during an era of steep decline, only to later resist and also participate in the unprecedented gentrification of the neighborhood.
Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper unravel the fascinating history of how a group of determined Holocaust survivors encountered, shaped, and sometimes fiercely opposed the urban processes that transformed their gritty neighborhood, from white flight and the construction of public housing to rising crime, divestment of city services, and, ultimately, extreme gentrification. By showing how Williamsburg’s Hasidim rejected assimilation while still undergoing distinctive forms of Americanization and racialization, Deutsch and Casper present both a provocative counter-history of American Jewry and a novel look at how race, real estate, and religion intersected in the creation of a quintessential, and yet deeply misunderstood, New York neighborhood.
Year first published: 2021