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New Yorkers Are Using 311 to Report Social Distancing Violations, and Police Are Responding

Social distancing in Madison Square. (Photo: Janine and Jim Eden via Wiki Commons)

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rises to more than 47,439 in New York City, people are taking social distancing more seriously. City data shows that in the past three days in Manhattan, a total of 289 complaints regarding social distancing violations were made via 311, with police responding to all of the calls and taking action in one third of the cases. More →

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NYU Students Have Left the Building (And Aren’t Happy About It)

(Photo: Tdorante10/Wiki Commons)

Paola Nagovitch, a journalism student at New York University, received an email on March 9 from the school’s administration about coronavirus-related measures NYU planned to take. The email asked students to take their laptops, books and notebooks with them during spring break. She left New York to her hometown in Puerto Rico that same week thinking she would be able to return at some point to her student residence. However, on March 16 she received another email from the school asking students to be out of their residences “by no later than March 22, and preferably within 48 hours.” That same week Puerto Rico’s governor announced a nationwide lockdown and curfew, discarding any possibility Nagovitch had of returning to New York. More →

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Hasidic Williamsburg Has Been Making Grim Headlines; Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox’ Aims to Trade Sensationalism For Authenticity

(Stills from “Unorthodox” courtesy of Netflix)

“You can really get into the weeds,” said Alexa Karolinski, the co-creator and co-writer of Netflix’s new mini-series Unorthodox. “Like, should she wear something on her head during her wedding? Should he be wearing white socks? Should the shirt be fully buttoned?” Being hyper-specific in dress and in ritual was vital for capturing a tradition-rich community on the margins, and Unorthodox has positioned itself as one of the most ambitiously detailed renderings of the Williamsburg Satmar Hasidic community ever on screen.  More →

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How ‘Love at First Sight’ Saved a 170-Year-Old Synagogue

(Photos: Holly Pickett)

Kaleidoscopic colors illuminate the interior of Anshe Slonim Synagogue at 172 Norfolk St. on the Lower East Side. Sapphire, scarlet, magenta, and emerald take turns reflecting off peeling gold paint and the pulse of the Bee Gees’ 1977 disco classic “Night Fever” radiates from speakers facing the sanctuary. In front of the Ark—in most synagogues, the special cabinet housing the Torah, Judaism’s holy text—actors perform a musical based on New York City’s notorious Studio 54 nightclub. During the musical numbers, the audience members boogie on a square dance floor, lit from below with fuchsia and white lights. Above it all, a rotating disco ball flings sparks of light across the room. More →

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9 Doyers Street and the Gangs of New York Scorsese Didn’t Tell Us About

Martin Scorsese’s 2002  film Gangs of New York is a glimpse into the power struggles that plagued the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan in the late 19th century. It addresses universal and timeless themes of xenophobia and resistance to immigration, but limits the emphasis of its story to the ongoing battle between the so-called “Natives”—those whose parents arrived in America as early as the 1600s—and the “Dead Rabbits” and other Irish gangs that emerged as the Irish population grew three centuries later. But Herbert Asbury’s 1928 eponymous book, on which Scorsese based his film, features many other gangs of the era, the most prominent of them the Hip Sings and the On Leongs, whose activity centered on Chinatown’s Doyers Street. More →