On Campus & Online | American Shtetl, The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York

Tuesday | 09.05.23 | 18:00

American Shtetl

Panel discussion |

On the book by: Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers (Princeton University Press, 2022)

In 1972 leaders of the Satmar Hasidic dynasty in Williamsburg purchased a small tract of land in upstate New York. Five years later Kiryas Joel was born, a legal jurisdiction granted to the Satmars by the state of New York. The book American Shtetl, is the story of Kiryas Joel, an American town with few parallels in Jewish history—but many precedents among religious communities in the United States. Stolzenberg and Myers document how this group of pious, Yiddish-speaking Jews has grown to become a thriving insular enclave and a powerful local government in upstate New York.

Nomi Stolzenberg and David Myers paint a richly textured portrait of daily life in Kiryas Joel, exploring the community’s guiding religious, social, and economic norms. They delve into the roots of Satmar Hasidism and its charismatic founder, Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum, following his journey from nineteenth-century Hungary to post–World War II Brooklyn, where he dreamed of founding an ideal Jewish town modeled on the shtetls of eastern Europe. Stolzenberg and Myers chart the rise of Kiryas Joel as an official municipality with its own elected local government. They show how constant legal and political battles defined and even bolstered the community, whose very success has coincided with the rise of political conservatism and multiculturalism in American society over the past forty years.


Chair: Prof. Shai Lavi, Director, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute; Tel Aviv University

Prof. Julie Cooper, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Moshe Halbertal, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Nechumi Yaffe, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Nomi Stolzenberg, University of Southern California

Prof. David Myers, University of California, Los Angeles

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