LIVE from NYPL: American Shtetl: Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers with Elizabeth Platt

Event Details

The Joy Gottesman Ungerleider Lecture. Discover the story of Kiryas Joel, the uniquely American, self-governing religious community in upstate New York.

Book jacket for American Shtetl: the Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York by Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers

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 new book American Shtetl, by Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers, 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.

Stolzenberg and Myers speak with Elizabeth Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, about their new book and their fifteen years of research into Kiryas Joel, an “only in America phenomenon.”

The annual Joy Gottesman Ungerleider Lecture explores themes represented in the holdings of The New York Public Library's Dorot Jewish Division. This series has been made possible by a generous grant from the Dorot Foundation.

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Nomi M. Stolzenberg holds the Nathan and Lilly Shapell Chair at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She has written widely on law and religion.

David N. Myers holds the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His many books include Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction.

Elizabeth Platt is the director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, a law and policy think tank that advocates for religious liberty, pluralism, and social justice. She publishes widely on the intersection of religious freedom and other fundamental rights. Her recent work includes the Southern Hospitals Report, which examines religious restrictions on medical care at Protestant-affiliated hospitals, We the People (of Faith), a study of COVID-era religious liberty litigation, All Faiths and None, a roadmap for protecting religious freedom and pluralism, and Whose Faith Matters?, an exploration of religious freedom movements outside the Christian Right.



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