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Things to Know When Visiting a Hassidic Community

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Question: Things to Know When Visiting a Hassidic Community

All kinds of people live in Brooklyn, and, especially for visitors, some of the best people-watching is in the borough's Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods, where people dress with Amish-like modesty and observe different social norms. Are there things visitors should know before shopping in a Hasidic neighborhood?

Answer:

Yes.

Clothing

Most of the people you may encounter at Brooklyn's Hasidic neighborhoods — in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park — will be dressed in the garb typical of their communities. That means modest, loose-fitting long dresses for girls and women, and generally black pants or suits for boys and men, who all wear yarmulkes or hats.

 

Store Hours & Lifestyle

All establishments are closed two hours before sunset on Friday, all day Saturday, and on Jewish holidays.

You will not find any bars in these neighborhoods, unless they are on the outskirts and owned by non-Hasidic people.

Adult men and women do not wait in stores for each other to try on and model clothing; there's a separation of men and women.

Suggestions for Visitors

As a matter of courtesy:

  • Do not eat or bring any food that is not kosher into a food establishment.
  • It's best not to photograph people without their permission.
  • Women visitors should, if possible, avoid low cut or tight fitting tops.
  • Women visitors should not try to shake hands with local orthodox men; they won't, and the particularly pious may even avoid eye contact.

    People in these communities are generally open and friendly to outsiders. However, it helps to understand a little of the rules they live by.

     

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