Presented by Nathaniel Deutsch

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has become a symbol for gentrification. It is also home to the largest Hasidic community in the world, a community which is famously one of the most separatist, intensely religious, and politically savvy in the United States. Nathaniel Deutsch will explore the history of Hasidic Williamsburg and its relationship to race, real estate development, and politics. By showing how Williamsburg’s Hasidim rejected assimilation while still undergoing distinctive forms of Americanization and racialization, Deutsch presents a novel look at how race, real estate, and religion intersected in the creation of a quintessential, and yet deeply misunderstood, New York neighborhood.

Nathaniel Deutsch is professor of history at UC Santa Cruz, where he holds the Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and is the director of the Center for Jewish Studies and of the Humanities Institute. His publications include The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World and The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies. Most recently, Deutsch is the co-author, with Michael Casper, of A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg and the co-translator, with Noah Barrera, of The Lost World of Russia’s Jews: Ethnography and Folklore in the Pale of Settlement by Abraham Rechtman.