Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Hasidic South Williamsburg Resists the New Reality

Children play in a courtyard in a Hasidic housing complex on the East River in South Williamsburg during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

My apartment in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn is right on the border of the seclusive Satmar Hasidic community. Hasidic communities throughout New York have some of the highest levels of positive COVID-19 tests in the city. As one community member told the New York Times, “There is not a single Hasidic family that has been untouched. It is a plague on a biblical scale.” 

Even so, many have resisted social distancing measures. On April 28, Mayor de Blasio denounced a large Hasidic funeral in South Williamsburg and warned the community of possible police action against future gatherings. His posts on Twitter drew criticism for warning the “Jewish community” as a whole, where many view the Hasidic communities of New York as entirely separate enclaves. 

Although more people can be seen wearing face masks as of late April, many of the residents are operating in a state of normalcy, in stark contrast to others who pass through the area. Even non-essential businesses remain open, largely staffed by Hispanic employees. As COVID tears through the city, life goes on.

Hasidic families gather in Domino Park on a sunny spring day, despite city social distancing orders. April 14, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

A Hasidic man crossing the street in South Williamsburg. New York taxi displays now cycle through social distancing recommendations along with their standard advertisements. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

Police presence in the Satmar community of South Williamsburg has increased over the past few weeks. A young boy stares at a police SUV on a Friday evening as Shabbat begins. May 1, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

Passing by a yeshiva bus in South Williamsburg on a sunny spring day. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

Although the CDC recommends that children over 2 wear face masks, many in South Williamsburg are not following the guidelines. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

A woman exits a bakery in South Williamsburg. Many of the businesses in the Satmar neighborhood are operating as normal. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

 

The shops in South Williamsburg are largely staffed by Hispanic staff, with many stores operating as normal. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

In South Williamsburg, other businesses closed due to the pandemic, including this congregation. May 2, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

Essential workers such as deliverymen work with gloves and masks as many Hasidic community members in South Williamsburg forgo the city guidelines. April 22, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

On Shabbat, all businesses are shuttered and men wear Shtreimel hats and a shawl called a Tallit. A Hasidic man uses his Tallit as a face covering in South Williamsburg. May 2, 2020. Photo by Leo Schwartz

This is a project of  Lori Grinker’s  NYU graduate photojournalism class.


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

Courtney Guarino December 3, 2020

Adaptation

Justin McGown December 3, 2020

Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

Luana Harumi December 3, 2020

Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

Norah Hogan December 1, 2020

Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020