Brooklyn, NY – Geographically speaking, the Syrian Jewish community of Brooklyn — 75,000 strong and growing fast — inhabits an enclave running from Avenue I in the north to Avenue V in the south and stretching eastward to Nostrand Avenue from West 6th Street. But the community’s true boundaries are at once more expansive and more constricted.
The SY’s, as the community members call themselves live in a self-created entrepreneurial and mercantile empire whose current sources of wealth are found everywhere from Coney Island to Shanghai. They are rich beyond the dreams of their immigrant forebears.
Yet no matter how far they roam or how worldly and successful they become, the SY’s of Brooklyn are bound by an invisible fence known as the Edict — a rabbinical threat of excommunication so dire and so powerful that it has fixed the true parameters of the community for generations.
The Edict was issued in Brooklyn by five Syrian rabbis in 1935. They had a simple goal: to preserve the age-old Syrian Jewish community in the New World.
Read extended article [nytimes]