South Williamsburg Bike Beef? Squashed

Baruch Herzfeld co-owns South Williamsburg’s Traif Bike Gesheft—Yiddish for, basically, “Non-Kosher Bike Shop.” Along with Joe Diamond, Herzfeld founded the S. 6th Street hangout—which sells, rents and repairs bikes—in 2009, around the same time that tensions flared between Williamsburg’s southside Satmars and their new neighbors, a rival sect known as The Hipsters; members of the former lobbied successfully for a section of Bedford Avenue bike lane (which the latter championed) to be removed from their part of town. An Orthodox Jew and bike activist, Herzfeld bridged the divide: he acted as a spokesman for a naked bike ride protest; he offered to lend bikes to local Chasids. So how are things down there now? “There is no conflict between the hipsters and the Satmars,” he tells us. “The bike lane is removed. Gone. Over. The people of Brooklyn are peaceful and prefer to focus on seeing the positive in their neighbor, rather than be divided over minor differences. Most of the Chasidim I know in Williamsburg are peaceful, curious about their neighbors, and interested mostly in doing good deeds, such as visiting the sick and feeding the hungry. There is a sectarian, isolationist facet to the community. However, people are increasingly, bravely calling this group out, so the majority of the Chasidim are not bullied by a fundamentalist minority. An example of this is the increased friction over sex-segregated bus lines within the Chasidic community, both here and in Israel. That conflict is an intramural drama between Jews; the chill ultra-Orthodox Jews are standing up to the bullies and telling the hardliners to shut up and calm down. 99 S. 6th Street, Williamsburg

Photo Civan Ozkanoglu


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