Ultra-Orthodox Jews Spread Into Once-Black Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Fast-Growing Hasidim Move Into Bushwick and Bed-Stuy

Moving In: Driven by soaring growth rates, ultra-Orthodox Jews are moving from traditional enclaves in Brooklyn. More and more are shifting to traditionally black and Latino neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant.
claudio papapietro
Moving In: Driven by soaring growth rates, ultra-Orthodox Jews are moving from traditional enclaves in Brooklyn. More and more are shifting to traditionally black and Latino neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant.

By JTA

Published February 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

If you’re looking to move to an apartment on or near Park Avenue, be prepared to break open the piggy bank. Prices are higher than ever and developers are squabbling over construction rights.

That’s Park Avenue, Brooklyn – not its swankier Manhattan namesake.

For decades, this derelict corner of New York’s most populous borough was the domain of dangerous street gangs and dilapidated industrial buildings. The name of its neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant, was synonomous with urban decay and crime. But driven by the explosive growth of the Jewish population in neighboring Williamsburg, a stronghold of the Satmar hasidic sect, untold numbers of haredi Orthodox Jews recently have moved into the area, and now many consider it part of Jewish Williamsburg.

“Ten years ago there were no Jews living here,” said Moishe, a construction site manager of a large residential building who declined to give his last name. “Then they changed the zoning. Now it is going heavy.”

The changes in the neighborhood are among the consequences of the explosive growth of the Orthodox Jewish population in America’s most Jewish city. That growth is altering not just the composition of America’s largest Jewish community, but city neighborhoods, too.

A study released last month by the UJA-Federation of New York identified Williamsburg as home to the second-fastest Jewish population growth in New York City. About 74,500 Jews – mostly haredi Orthodox – lived there in 2011, up from 52,700 a decade earlier. The fastest-growing Jewish neighborhood of the city was Borough Park, another haredi Orthodox stronghold in Brooklyn. More than 130,000 Jews lived there in 2011, up from 76,000 in 2001. Together, these two areas accounted for two-thirds of the 10 percent increase in the number of Jews living in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County between 2001 and 2011, according to the study.

With these neighborhoods’ rapid growth has come new challenges. Affordable housing is increasingly scarce. The median real estate price in the Park Avenue area is just under $500,000, higher than nearly 80 percent of New York neighborhoods, according to Neighborhood Scout, a real estate data website. Meanwhile, average income in the area is lower than 90 percent of U.S. neighborhoods, according to the site.

“The prices are going up and up, and it’s becoming harder and harder for young families to buy in this neighborhood,” said Gary Schlesinger, the executive director of United Jewish Community Advocacy, Relations and Enrichment (UJCare), a haredi organization based in Williamsburg. “I personally have two married children. They have no prospects of owning land.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.