Resistance to Americanization is such that although there is no physical wall to isolate them, a strong 'sociological wall' separates this group from activities that might encroach on its cultural stability. - Solomon Poll
My work explores the Satmar community of Williamsburg, New York, one of the most ultra-orthodox movements of Hasidic Judaism today. The images express how I experience the social isolation that is at the core of this insular world. The Satmars, who originated in Satu Mare, Romania, are among the more isolationist of the Hasidic sects, which are named for the Eastern European towns that gave birth to them. Since their arrival from Europe after World War II, the Hasidim have transformed their urban neighborhoods into veritable "islands in the city". Separating themselves through daily activities (including the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the places they gather, and even the language they speak among themselves) they have created a well functioning community with social controls and little or no deviation. The Hasidic leadership recognized that the greatest enemy of Hasidism is change. Today the community faces a much bigger challenge to their "shtetl" life. In recent years a real estate boom in the area has exposed the young Hasidim more than ever to secular culture, with the arrival of artist and modernist in their neighborhood.
A secular observer wonders what keeps a Satmar tethered to this restricted world. The Satmar wonders why you wonder.