The End of the Ashkenaz Community in Flatbush

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    If you go to Ashlenaz shuls in Flatbush, you’ll notice there are less kids than there were in the 90s and early 2000, whereas if you go to Sephardic communities, you’ll notice that there are more kids and young adults around. What changed? Ashkenaz Yeshivas in Brooklyn made Lakewood the end goal.

    ☕️coffee addict

    They all moved to cheaper pastures (Lakewood, 5 towns, Monsey)


    People are being priced out of Brooklyn. 40 years ago, a house in Flatbush cost about 1-2 years average salary – median household income Jan 1980 was $51k.

    2019 median household income is about $64k, while family sized houses are $800k (12.5 years) and up. At the same time, standards [and therefore expenses] have risen astronomically.

    Anyone have ideas for long-term solutions? (Besides mass immigration to Lakewood and its environs)


    Analysis is not totally accurate. Housing prices are also a factor. Ashkenaz yeshivos did not make Lakewood the end goal. Learning in a Lakewood became a goal, not necessarily living in Lakewood. Many factors contribute to that decision.

    Reb Eliezer

    In the Adas Yereim in Williamsburg (Wiener) has switched from Ashkanez to Sefard around ten years ago.


    “Im Ein [Gelt] Ein Torah” (Avos 3:21)Follow the money……a large portion of it migrated down south along the Jersey Turnpike …..


    You’ll find them in farockaway and lakewood and all the little satellite kollelim throughout the country.


    What’s wrong with more Sephardic communities? They love Hashem as you and I do; they just have different minhagim. Do we really need more sinat chinam against klal yisroel?


    I thought the “end goal” was E”Y.


    Kollelman-why do think we need long term solutions other than what you mentioned? There is no mitzvah of Yishuv haaretz in Brooklyn. Why not just sell properties for a huge profit, pick and move somewhere else (preferably E”Y) and call it a day (or a century). Is there any reason to try and save the Ashkenazi Brooklyn community. Nostalgia is nice but should not prevent life from moving forward.

    Reb Eliezer

    The old ashkenazim like myself would not budge from their old traditions as saying maarovis on Yom Tov night.

    yaakov doe

    My first house in Flatbush cost $35,900 in 1974 when I was earning about $10,000 a year. Typical Flatbush houses ranged in price at that time from $50,000 – $65,000. Keep in mind the mortgage rates were 8.5% in 1974 and as high as 17% in the spring of 1980. Back then real estate taxes were much lower in NYC than in the suburbs but have now quickly crept up. Two bedroom apartments were available for under $300 in those years. A couple earning both minimum wage could afford an apartment and middle class families could afford homes.

    I only have observations, not answers. I don’t see the end of the Flatbush community, but the graying of it which has more of an impact on the yeshivot than the shuls. Perhaps as large numbers of aging homeowners downsize house prices will drop. The young Sefardim are in the same predicament as the Litvish. Not all Sefardim are wealthy.


    I don’t believe the status quo can continue for much longer. Leaving for Lakewood, Toms River, Jackson, or anywhere else can help somewhat. In general the costs of being frum and keeping up with the frum-Jones’ is getting out of control. If people can handle EY, it’s wonderful. There is a huge culture and standard of living difference. If they move to the “Americanized” areas, where they will likely encounter much of the same as where they left from.

    A side observation is the size and frequency of simchas. As the community grows B”H, simchas are becoming much larger and people feel obligated to invite an ever-extending circle of people. Many people are “obligated” to attend several simchas that they really would rather not. Some pop in and out just to say Mazel Tov and be “yoitze”. I’m not sure how this can be fixed. Takanos are not going to help outside of communities that don’t obey a central authority.

    End of rant (for now)


    The simple answer is Brooklyn is simply isn’t affordable. Small 3 bedroom houses are going for over $800,000. How many young families can afford such high prices? Even if they manage to save for a down payment (20%=$160,000) why buy in Flatbush where all that will get you is a semi attached 3 bedroom and possibly a shared driveway, when you can go to other communities and get a larger house, bigger yard, private driveway, and an eruv, all for the same amount or less?


    News of changing community doesn’t surprise me, as I had always predicted “Shtetl USA.” Increasingly young Orthodox couples of all stripe will be moving to the smaller towns and areas because of cheaper cost of living — and more wholesome, insular environment.

    In a sense, the Satmars in Jersey City are today’s chalutzim.


    “What’s wrong with more Sephardic communities? They love Hashem as you and I do; they just have different minhagim. Do we really need more sinat chinam against klal yisroel?”

    No one said there is anything wrong with them. Not one single person. Why are you turning this into something that it wasn’t intended to be?


    The Asians are moving into the low avenues of Boro Park, displacing the frum community there.

    The average Sefardim are generally wealthier than the average Askenazim, permitting them to afford the increasing cost of housing in Brooklyn.

    The hippies and other secular people are increasingly purchasing homes in Williamsburg and all other Brooklyn neighborhoods, causing continued increase in housing costs. They want to live near Manhattan, since they can’t afford Manhattan itself.

    The young Askenazim are increasingly moving from everywhere, not just Brooklyn but Brooklyn as well as even almost every other out of town community to Lakewood. Chassidim are also moving to the Monsey area. This is causing Brooklyn and out of town areas to lose growth in their young communities, which as a result is increasingly shrinking.


    i believe ahkenazic kin, due to the cannabis epidemic, have chosen to move to communities that can adhere to their tree-hugging nature. the sepharic juveniles, however, are more into fentanal, opioids etc. and therfore do not have the desire to hug trees, the brooklyn area is just fine for them. may hashem bless us all ( i guess its a different age these days, huh.)


    5 towns is not that much cheaper. None of these communities have the convenience that Brooklyn has.


    Why does learning in Lakewood have to be the goal? What happened to once respected institutions like Chaim Berlin, Torah Vodaas ad Mirrer Yeshiva?


    To say the decrease of young people in any community is not a problem is highly inaccurate. Many aging parents will eventually find it hard if their kids are a few hours drive away. And many of them will not want or won’t be able to move away from the neighborhood they called home for decades.

    Add to this the huge Jewish infrastructure that may need to be sold to non-Jews if this trend exacerbates. And then there’s the huge cost (not just financial) of literally replacing those Shuls, Mikvaos & schools elsewhere, which btw is partly to blame for the “school crisis” in rapidly expanding communities like Lakewood and Monsey.

    Plus tuition for those that remain might need to go up if the student population shrinks. If schools must close, parents will have fewer choices and children may be effected negatively if they are forced to switch schools, away from the schools they were doing well in.

    If what the OP is saying about Flatbush is true, it may be better off than other Brooklyn neighborhoods where Gentiles and secular Jews may take over, because some of the infrastructure can hopefully be saved and put to good use.


    I heard that Detroit (Southfield/Oak Park) has very inexpensive homes.


    We Jews think we’re so smart when in fact we can be so dumb. The Liberal NYC gov’t is tired of Chasidim and want them gone. They can’t evict them outright, but can “encourage” them to leave.
    Many Chasidim are into real estate. By passing onerous laws against landlords it discourages new investments and keeping properties.
    By not responding forcefully to low-level attacks and allowing criminals to be released without bail, Chasidim are scared and move elsewhere and certainly don’t want to move TO NYC.
    By promoting Gay marriage, LGBTQ, Transgender, and every other immorality, it causes Chasidim not to want to raise their kids in NYC.
    By not allowing for affordable housing for young families, it encourages Chasidim to look elsewhere.
    Everyone talks about how they see a lot less kids in NYC Shuls than in the past.
    The Chasidic communities in Lakewood and Monsey are experiencing explosive growth.
    The grandparents will sell their homes to retire and move near their grandchildren (outside of NYC).
    Russia did the same thing. By not stopping Pogroms and making it economically difficult, 2.5 million Jews left in a few decades.
    Give it a few decades and Boro Park and Williamsburg will be Judenfrei.
    Deblasio isn’t so dumb after all, Is he?


    Most people are priced out of Brooklyn which is now priced close to a million or up for a small dump. Who stays? The ones with very strong ties or reasons to stay. And that’s where the Sephardic community comes in. We have two main reasons to stay- first of all the schools- were very much into keeping with our traditions and you won’t find many Sephardic yeshivot in the US outside of Brooklyn or Lakewood. Second is family- Sephardic tens to keep their kids tied to their apron strings. Family is everything. Ashkenaz are far more likely to plant elsewhere on the globe than we would.
    So we stay here… buying houses we can’t afford and living in. Apartments that are too smal


    Realistically speaking Flatbush like all frum neighborhoods (including Lakewood one day) will wither. That is just the way the world works. America always has changing demographics in all frum neighborhoods. In the 1970s when Boro Park and Flatbush was the new “in” neighborhoods and shuls and school building in the old neighborhoods were closing down and being abandoned people thought it would stay that way forever too.

    In a place like Flatbush where there is no predominant Askenazi group that is determined to stay and keep their Kehila there, the factors causing people to move ultimately will have to prevail.

    The question is how long will the process take.

    Thirty years ago during the Dinkins days, I and everyone I knew, was sure there would be no significant frum community in Brooklyn today. We were also sure that neighborhoods like The Lower East Side or Washington Heights would be completely gone. We were clearly wrong.

    Therefore I predict that Brooklyn will go the same way The Lower East Side did. Losing frum/Jewish population for almost a hundred years but still having people who are interested in staying.

    Side note. In the 1970s when I went to the LES everyone seemed old back then. Presumably, those people are no longer alive. Yet the LES is still around.


    What’s more important, community or a comfortable house?

    meir G

    a number of points ;
    factually flatbush has seen a huge gradual change beore i get to the contributing factors,let me share some data
    a study was done last summer of ALL the brooklyn mosdos
    they took the current 6th grade class numbers ( approx 20) and compared it to that same class when they started 1st 6 yrs ago . at approx 26- which means they lost “JUST one” kid a year. to the mosed thats a 20% loss since rarely are new kids coming in 6th.
    /many once thriving shuls will tell you the olam is smaller except for a few new ones .
    the current entry classes in most flatbush mosdos have dropped significantly and many have even starting running big ads to stay alive ( the bonus is that its easier to get accepted)
    every store owner in flatbush will tell you ” FOOT TRAFFIC” is down 30% ask the motzei shabs pizza to other shops
    even marine park that has 1200 families had an 8% turnover of move away (but there new took over)
    1. OPTIONS- once new possibilities opened up people considered it
    2. JOB TYPE; the internet has changed the way we do business and our parnossah are much more mobile ( your phone is half your business), yidellach are in all kinds of stuff ( who’s a young
    accountant today?)
    3. FAMILY ; married kids always came to parents for yom tov and you were a welcome guest back at your old shul … NO MORE daddy, abba if you want you need to come to us … ( we need privacy, the kids need their own beds, mamale doesnt want to pack..shviger….
    4. connection/ rebbe; or better yet “LACK OF”- more young men get married and dont have a strong connection to a yeshiva, makom or rebbe SO IF I MOVE AWAY IM NOT MISSING THAT MUCH because what do i have here anyway a subset is ( NOT a COMMUNITY each to their own )
    5. SHALLOW GASHMIUS- for some moving to a neighborhood ( like 5 towns, toms river ) its about “getting more for your money” years ago a normal baal habos that came home to a warm loving home , wife , kids , lechem lechol..unwind a little .. learn a little was THRILLED ; who needed an acre w a pool that you hardly use .
    sach hakol part of galus is that yidden are always on the MOVE every 60-70 years ( bronx , brownsville, eastside, crown heights……)
    flatbush is full of 7 bedroom homes with 2people living there 6 months a year but ITS AN IHR VEEM BEYISROEL and its not going anywhere


    Dear RE first of all where do they say Maarovos? I remember when Adas Yereim opened in Boro Park in the Margaretener Ruv’s place. It was gevaldig. Do you remember which comes first the piyut of Sukkah or of the arba minim? which is on the first night? The pasuk puts the lulav first but the Mishnah puts Sukkah first? כל טוב רב אליעזר


    Meir and the pool and yard is rarely used.
    Actually there are many young accountants today. In fact, there are all over Lakewood. It’s the easiest profession to get your foot into the door.

    Edited 🤨


    There’s no shortage of kids in the yeshiva that my kids are attending – Torah Vidaas and Bays Yaakov D’Rav Meir. Yes, many Ashkenazic yeshivish families make it a goal have all their kids to learn (and, consequently, settle) in Lakewood. But, first, many is not all. Secondly, most of those who don’t set their goal to learn full time doesn’t have much of a reason to choose Lakewood specifically because it’s not as cheap as it was decades ago either. While Brooklyn is overpriced, there are other things to be taken to account, such as the cost and time for commute to work, most of which is still in NYC.


    It’s more than just nostalgia. Any place where Jews used to be but are no more is an embarrassment. Making Brooklyn Judenrein would be a shame. Also, what about few who have no reason or desire or means to move anywhere (have jobs here that would be hard to find elsewhere)? I would have no problem being an Ashkenazic minority in the Sephardic Flatbush.


    Are those Asians that are supposedly moving to the low avenues of Boro Park any wealthier than Chassidim?


    Abe: No. But the Chinese pack three or four families into one apartment and split the cost, so they can afford to outbid the frum in buying homes (usually from the frum) in the lower avenues of Boro Park.

    Yabia Omer

    This is a VERY interesting thread. I would say first and foremost it’s an economic issue. Our close friends have 5 kids and were living in a disgusting cramped apartment. They said “enough is enough” and moved to a much nicer home in Lakewood.

    But Brooklyn is just part of a bigger picture. It’s just harder in America than a few decades ago. Israel will be increasing attractive to people. Unless you have a top-notch career here, it’ll make less and less sense to stay here. I’m not saying that America Jewry will collapse tomorrow. But we are definitely in the process of decline.

    It’s part of our history. Do any Jews live in Pumbedita? Toledo? Lublin?


    I am not understanding some of the posters here- there is no shame in making Brooklyn Judenrein (if it really did come to that). Did you ever think that Jews did not belong there in the first place? Helloooo-its galus, not the promised land. Do you really think G-d needs more Jews in Flatbush vs. Wichita vs, Cracow vs. Alexandria? For some reason a bunch of Jews chose that as their home (proximity to Manhattan?) and it became the place to be. Yes we invested a ton of money in infrastructure. But we also invested a ton of money in shuls and mikvaos in Poland. Is anyone suggesting we go back there to take advantage of it? I can think of a much greater connection Vilna or Lublin but I don’t see Orthodox Jews moving there in droves. Do you ever think how much R. Meir Shapiro invested in Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and how many years we got out of it?

    Economics is a reality and so is progress. From a pure dollars and sense standpoint is it better for 1,000 Jews to spend $1,000,000 on a small uncomfortable home in an ugly neighborhood with crazy traffic with infrastructure in place (which also needs money in upkeep) or move to a newer cheaper neighborhood and rebuild the infrastructure all over again?

    Regarding the Bubbies and Zaidies who are still left there, let them get over the nostalgia, sell your your home for a fine profit and move near your kids (assuming they want you there) . Sell it to whoever is crazy enough to NEED that area and find greener pastures. Hopefully you will find them in E”Y but at the very least you can use the money to retire comfortably.
    Regarding the rest of the Jews who are still there and may kvetch about smaller class sizes and higher tuition-try moving out and break the vicious cycle. Which is a bigger challenge, dealing with a few less kids in the class or needing to pay all of your staff higher salaries to keep up with the insane cost of living? How many Rabbeim can live a comfortable normal life in Brooklyn with one one job? Two jobs? If none then we have built an unsustainable system and it is time to dismantle it.

    Last one out turn off the lights.


    While it’s hard to argue with your economics, it’s a lot more than nostalgia. I don’t think it’s a simple thing to sell a Shul to non Jews, especially as in the past many Shuls in Brooklyn ended up as churches l”a. (I don’t think this risk is as great with your average shtiebl, as there’s no real architectural value.)

    And changing a neighborhood past a certain age may mean loss of friends, doctors, pharmacist, and of course familiar shul. Especially with married kids working most waking hours, it can literally be a health risk and perhaps even traumatic for some. Don’t belittle it.

    No one talks of going back to Budapest, Lublin (or even Uman?) because we fled from there with the last inch of our lives, most of the infrastructure is gone anyway (not that it matters) and suicide is not a Jewish trait – anti-Semitism in much of Europe is transmitted with the mother’s milk. It doesn’t help that the American economy and standard of living is a lot higher anyway.

    And to touch on the financial angle a bit, those moving to cheaper ESTABLISHED neighborhoods are for the most not funding the building of new schools. They’re for the most part financially struggling families, who in the course of achieving the American dream laid out their last penny and then some – even if the cost is a lot lower than in Brooklyn. Unless we have some private school tax, the communities being moved into have a hard time absorbing the cost of new schools, ASSUMING THEY WANT TO TO DO THE RIGHT THING.


    I’m unaware of any obligation a renter has to stay in a neighborhood no matter who will move if in if he leaves but it’s not so simple in Halacha for a homeowner to sell his house in a changing neighborhood and cause further deterioration.

    Obviously there are many factors involved and this is beyond a coffee room discussion but from the viewpoint of Halacha it isn’t simple to tell people just sell your house and too bad on those who can’t move


    CTRebbe Jews are supposed to care about things besides grass

    Not commenting

    I don’t know what to answer for the ashkenazi but I will tell you that Sephardics especially the Syrian community of Brooklyn is all about community.
    This means that even though the cost of living became ridiculous, living in and amongst the community is priority to anything else.
    This includes Shuls yeshivot.


    I did not mean to be harsh and flipant regarding the difficulties in moving. Yes, moving for anybody is a stressful undertaking. But the OP and several articles I have read make it sound like a tragedy that Brooklyn is losing its youth to Lakewood. This OP was actually more hopeful by saying that the sefradim are staying. It would be great if the sefardim take over all the shul, yeshivot and mikvaot that the ashkenazim built! No issues of selling to churches and the like and it is keeping everything in the family. Wouldn’t be anything wrong if they gave them away to sfardim bec. all the ashkenzazim left!

    1- No we care more about a lot of things besides grass. But that does not mean that there is a be advantage of seeing more asphalt and cement. If Jews would say “we really don’t care much about gashmiyus and expensive houses. We will focus on ruchninyus and live in a neighborhood that is ugly and unpleasant and not spend our hard earned money on extravagant neighborhoods.” However, that is not the case. Instead, the Jews 30-40 years ago chose the worst of both worlds- unpleasant neighborhoods that you need to pay a fortune for the privilege of living there. One day the kids wake up and say “hey the emperor has no clothes!” Why in the world should we kill ourselves to make ends meet and pay fortunes of money to live in cramped overcrowded conditions? “. And then the old folks scratch their heads and say “gee I don’t know why the young folk don’t want to live here anymore.” (Duh)

    Kol hakavod to the younger generation for waking up and breaking out of the mindset of we need to live in Brooklyn. Unfortunately that has been replaced with the mindset of we need to live in Lakewood. Until of course their kids grow up, move out to ___ and the cycle starts all over again.


    There’s another issue, namely the yeshiva environment for kids. Since the kollel families are moving to Lakewood and other lower-priced areas they can afford, classes have less “ultra-frum” families. The ones remaining in Flatbush, often have different hashkafos, priorities, and standards – even in the same schools. There is still a wide range.

    Sam Klein

    Sorry but sadly Lakewood today has already been priced out and unaffordable for the yungerman learning in BMG which is why he came to Lakewood and even if he is a working father. Lakewood attached duplex home today is going for 1.2 million dollars which is completely insane, overpriced and out of control and the house comes with a tiny backyard and a drop of grass like Brooklyn style houses. That’s completely unaffordable and overpriced.

    Today it’s time to move to many more frum communities all over that are more affordable including Detroit and Boston etc ..


    Mr. Klein, I hate to break it to you, but the Boston Jewish community is going downhill because of…. HOUSING PRICES! There are more affordable communities. The only hope we have is for people to get out of their head that they need to live in a community with tens of thousands of people just like them.
    I am a bit curious what made you revive a four year old posting


    Regarding difficulty selling shuls, i heard that many shuls are supposed to miraculously be transferred to E”Y when Moshiach comes. I wonder if that includes shuls which were destroyed in the past thousands of years, and/or those which were converted to secular buildings.

    Regarding moving elsewhere, I once read that long ago Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz had been counseled by the Kerestirer Rav, and he later said that everything the Kerestirer predicted to him came to pass. Anyway I also read that Rav Shraga Feivel had long ago wanted that more frum men should relocate to places all over the U.S. instead of remaining in enclaves.
    …Fast-forward – the out-of-hand situation of overpriced homes (and overpriced-everything) has proven what a visionary Rav Mendlowitz was, back in the early 1900’s. Perhaps he was even counseled by the Kerestirer Rav, to try to convince families to branch out elsewhere.


    The reality on the ground is that a larger percentage of frum Jews in America are consolidating in centralized areas such as the greater Lakewood area, the greater Monsey area and the greater NYC Metropolitan area. Lakewood, especially. But even the frum Flatbush community was growing until about 15 years ago or so. Nowadays it is mostly Lakewood and Monsey.

    But what is happening out of towns is that many frum communities OOT are either shrinking outright or stagnating. This is because the young frum (chareidi) couples from out of town are moving to Lakewood in significant numbers shortly after their weddings.


    Is wfh affecting Jewish population trends? It seems that people working in NYC and other downtowns now commute twice a week, so it is more comfortable to live near the cities. That leads to decline of far away and inside cities communities.


    While some OOT communities have stagnated others have seen growth especially in Houston Las Vegas Miami. Baltimore Chicago and Cleveland haven’t exactly stagnated.


    @Judy, Nice story about R SF Mendowitz and Reb Shayale, except it never happened, Reb SF left eastern europe in the early 1900’s and Reb Shayala was nifter in 1925.

    PS the frum olam keeps changing, Florida is booming, Union County NJ is booming, the outer limits of Lakewood and Monsey are booming and Sullivan County has a booming year round community.


    In the year 1900, there were 25 synagogues in HARLEM.

    How many synagogues were in HARLEM in year 1980? None? One?


    My Rebbi in a large OOT community (who started as a
    Rebbe in a very OOT community) was a Talmid of R’ SF Mendlowitz & he told us you get married, you learn for a few years, then you go out & teach. Whether larger like Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, etc. or smaller like Memphis, New Orleans, etc. it didn’t matter where, just go teach Torah.

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