The Park Bench

In New York, hundreds of cultures are practically piled on top of each other, yet the city somehow thrives. On this week's Park Bench, go behind the scenes with our contributors and subjects, and share your own stories of cultural mash-ups in the city and beyond.

The Park Bench

Every Friday, we discuss, debate and dissect the week’s theme and stories here, on The Park Bench. It’s a place where we take you behind the scenes with our journalists and subjects; where we curate the comments that you post on the site, as well as your longer reflections that you send to us via email. If a story hits home, or you have a fresh perspective you’d like to add, drop us a line here, or get in touch via Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #ParkBench.

A Letter from Borough Park

An anonymous reader writes in to share his feelings about “Heretic Hasidim,” Pearl Gabel’s investigation of rebellious Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn.

Thank you so much for your article ‘Heretic Hasidim.’ I really enjoyed it, and you pointed out many true points. It’s perhaps one of the first articles that I read about heretic Hasidim which does not exaggerate. I think that the truth is bad enough, that there is no reason to do that, as many writers do.

I was born, raised and currently live in Borough Park–home to the largest Jewish/Hasidic community in the world (except of course in Israel). Though, the reason Williamsburg is more in the news is because they are more extreme and try to play it as if they were ‘more religious.’ The culture in Borough Park is much different than it is in Williamsburg. The schools and the dress codes aren’t as enforced as in Williamsburg. The reason is because the sects that have their headquarters in Borough Park are more liberal than, for example, the Satmar sect.

The biggest sect in Borough Park is ‘Bobov.’ The Bobov dynasty is perhaps the sect with the most percentage originating from Galicia (Southern Poland). The culture in Galicia and Poland in general, was way different that Hungary. The Hungarians are known for speaking more than they should and they are very controversial.  There is a lot to talk about the differences, and about how the sects got to where they are right now.

I am Hasidic ‘for now’…I will not write my name now for obvious reasons.

First Nights in America

Released this week, Refugee Hotel, a book by photographer Gabriele Stabile and Narratively contributor Juliet Linderman, documents refugees’ first nights in the United States.

The Eaten Path

Sometimes a meal is about more than just the food in front of you–as is the case with the Sunday lunch prepared at a Buddhist temple in the Bronx, documented on Narratively this week by James Boo.

As the author of The Eaten Path, Boo makes it his mission to deliver the stories behind the meals of New York. For more of Boo’s culinary cultural crossings, check out:

Nhà Tôi:  a Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall in Williamsburg

Pirosmani: Opulent Georgian feasts in Gravesend

And more on The Eaten Path.

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