Hasidic Jews In Williamsburg And Crown Heights Sick Of Tourists Coming To See Them Like They “Are In A Zoo”


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Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn are said to be unhappy with being treated like they’re ‘on some sort of display’ as if they’re ‘in a zoo’ by tourists who flock to their neighborhoods to take photos of their traditional clothes and customs.

Residents of Orthodox communities in Williamsburg and Crown Heights told the New York Post that they are not amused by the way sightseeing tours bus hundreds of tourists into their neighborhoods for ‘contrast’ tours daily.

‘People snap pictures of you like you’re on some sort of display – like you’re in a zoo,’ one member of Williamsburg’s Satmar community, Chaim, 42, told the newspaper, adding, ‘We are people, not animals to be photographed.’

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(Source: Daily Mail UK)


  1. Why is it any different than tourists visiting the Amish? They should not take it personally. In fact if someone had a little entrepreneurial ideas, they should create tours of Williamsburg and CH thereby giving the outside world a glimpse of life for Orthodox Jews and maybe they will be show a better understanding and appreciation for Orthodox jews

  2. You can’t blame people for finding this lifestyle unique in this day and age. The feeling like an “ animal exhibit” ls got a come from the inside. ( No one is coming to feed them) Where is the pride in what they are doing? Amish probably feel the same way.

  3. then dress like you are not a resident of poland, hungary or the ukraine from the 18th century. if you look odd, yoyu attract attention. cannot have your cake and eat it too.

  4. Seems like a wonderful opportunity to show case the Beautiful lives we have with a kiddush hashem…… Of course though if the people feel like a zoo maybe stop acting like one.

  5. So its ok for you to take pictures of your rebbehs who also are not in a zoo and plaster them in magazines and allover town but its not ok to have tourist come into willi to take pictures. Whats good for the rebbeh is good for the tourist

  6. DrYidd: why should they dress different? Yidden are suposed to dress different than goyim! No problem with that! Do you dress like a goy? I’d be more ashamed of that!

  7. I can certainly understand how the feel, but there’s nothing they can to stop the tourists. As long as tourists come it’s an amazing opportunity for a kiddush Hashem. If those being gawked at just ignore the tourists and go on with their usual activities the tourists will see the positive aspects of a frum lifestyle.

  8. The locals have a point. Usually Cities, towns, Countries, etc…like when tourists come because it helps the local economy. From hotel stay to car rental to local shopping to entrance fees, etc… The difference here is that they don’t give a penny of revenue to the locals. They are bussed in, parade a few blocks, listen to a drasha by the tour guide, take a few pictures and out are bussed out. I managed a business on Lee Avenue in the heart of Williamsburg for many years. I observed these people. The foreigners parade up & down but NEVER entered any store. Not for a gift, toy, piece of jewelry, clothing, shoes, drink, danish, sandwich, restaurant, etc… Gornisht. Maybe they were told not to. Who knows? Since they provide nothing in return, I agree, they shouldn’t be invading our private way of life. Stick to Times Square.

  9. I don’t know who is felling like in a zoo but I definitely look at the world as a zoo. If you have that outlook you won’t have any complaints.
    We have people coming to our bitei medroshois and take pictures of is and no one ever complains about it, on the contrary it’s an opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem.

  10. What the most funniest thing about this article is that we in crown heights
    have chassdim from Williamsburg coming to check out 770 and take pictures of us learning (with digital cameras and the flash on).

  11. I would agree with Git Meshige and take it even further. Our role is to be a Light to the Nations, not to mention a Mamleches Kohanim, teachers of the world. Why not open a visitors center and share with curious visitors the truth of Torah and the many many advantages its lifestyle has to offer over the destructive lifestyle offered by most of the rest of the world. This obviously has to be done very carefully, avoiding condescension and showing respect to others. But there’s enormous potential here.

  12. Hey Chabad! Where are you! Why don’t you use this opportunity? How many Yidden are on those tourist buses?
    How about offering kosher refreshments, and distributing candles for the [Jewish] woman, and putting on Tefilin for the men? How about distributing flyers of information, of who we are, and what being a Jew is all about. Satmar and Willy can get in on the act as well. It is up to US to take advantage of this MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY!
    Worst case? They stop coming!

  13. Monetize. I agree with that. Open a photo shop where the tourists go in with their family and you put a shtreimel and bekeshe on them, fake peyos and beard, and charge for the pictures. Sell heimishe macholim: gribbines, shmaltz, etc. Sell Coca Cola with Yiddish labels. Have a street set up like tourists imagine a shtetl: think *Colonial* Williamsburg, not Williamsburg. Make them feel like they have visited Anetevka in Fiddler on the Roof. It doesn’t matter if it true or not. When people visit Disney World they don’t ask whether it is true. This has real potential.

  14. NGI -“Maybe they were told not to.”
    Exactly! The tours learned from MaySharim. They hate tourists! Supposedly becacuse of Tznius.
    The Amish are More Tourist friendly – They don’t care how people are dressed.

  15. Clearly the locals feel insecure in what they displaying to the world. If not they would relish the opportunity to display and explain their lifestyle.

  16. When you go to Lancaster most tour guides warn you not to directly take pictures of the Amish because they don’t like it for religious reasons.

    The Amish also got the State of Pennsylvania to ban any commercial movies from being filmed in their neighborhoods without their permission.

    Chasidim, however, would never be given such courtesy in aplace like New York

  17. Amazing opportunity to be a light unto the nations. If you can’t go out to the nations to shine a light, let the nations come to you to witness it.

  18. justasec, have you seen pictures of telz, mir, slabodka before WWII?? All the bochurim dressed like goyim according to you. Hassidim are dressed like goyim of the 18th century; i am dressed as a modern-day goy!!

  19. don’t know, but we visited chinatown and bought some stuff there when we were kids. Let the chasidim open up a tourist shop like they do in Meah Sharem and they can make real money….

  20. Horrible. I guess it’s a reminder from Hashem that despite the freedom we have we are still in golus and still looked down upon and despised. Let’s hope Moshiach comes soon and we will no longer be an object of derision for the non-jews.

  21. Disgusting. I guess this is a reminder from Hashem that despite the fact that we have freedom to practice judaism openly, we are still in golus and still despised and looked down upon by the goyim. May Moshiach come soon and may we no longer be made a laughingstock by the goyim.