|Type of Government:||The Va'ad|
|Location(s):||Brooklyn, New York|
|Allies:||Federal Republic of Libeteria, New Brighton|
|Enemies:||Army of the Righteous Goo|
The land in Brooklyn that Shtetl Tzaddikim sits on was settled by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, and then re-settled by the British in the eighteenth century. The area remained rural farmland until the late nineteenth century, when Ocean Parkway, a major roadway connecting Brooklyn north to south, was completed. With easy access to the area, thanks to the newly constructed parkway, real estate developers began building single-family Victorian homes, multiple-family row houses, stores, and apartment buildings. Residential and commercial construction increased further at the turn of the twentieth century, when immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe arrived in America in droves.
In the boom years following World War II, the composition of the area began to change. While there already were many Jews in those Central and Eastern European immigrant waves that settled at the turn of the century, they arrived in relative proportion with other ethnic groups. In the years after World War II, the neighborhood became more and more Jewish- Hasidic, specifically- turning into an ethnic enclave, with surrounding areas having significant amounts of Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish residents as well. Theologically, it was led by the Grand Rebbe of the Bobov Hasidic dynasty.
Because of their strict religious beliefs, the area became an ethnic enclave unlike others. Owing to a philosophy that believed the secular world to be inherently bad, the conservative elements of the area did their best to turn inwards, and block out the rest of the world. Non-Jews that entered the area were ignored, or at worst, harassed.
The Resource Wars began in 2052, prompting a massive influx of immigrants. New York was the major destination for the majority of the Jewish immigrants fleeing the chaos. That December, Tel Aviv was destroyed when a terrorist group detonated a nuclear weapon. The Hasidic community was just as stunned as the rest of the world, but its destruction had a special resonance in the community. With the destruction of the city, a great deal of Jewish culture had been lost in one fell swoop. Many of the Jews of the area began worrying that their very religion and culture could eventually be lost, prompting them to double-down on their insularity. By 2060, when most of the Middle East- including Israel- had been reduced to rubble and ruin, their worries became reality: New York City now became the primary bastion for Judaism.
The people of the area were not particularly affected by the food and material shortages that began plaguing the nation in the mid 2070s. The Hasids took care of each other, turning their backs on outsiders that looked to them for help. Ramping up their own internal security patrols and neighborhood watches as a result, Boro Park and portions of the surrounding neighborhoods became de facto states of their own, as the city around them began crumbling and descending into chaos.
On that fateful morning when the bombs fell, everything changed. Boro Park was within the blast radius of the Chinese nuclear bombs targeting both Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Hundreds of thousands were killed with very little warning; a select few were able to get to cover in personal and municipal fallout shelters, subway stations, and other places that seemed to offer protection. Many Hasidic and Orthodox families survived what would later be deemed Shney Shoah- the Second Holocaust. It would take until the turn of the twenty-second century before the ruins became safe enough for people to start emerging.
Unlike many of the survivors in other places across the country, the Hasidic and Orthodox survivors had a built in sense of community and brotherhood. Instead of looking to their own survival and needs, various surviving Hasidic and Orthodox Jew families began coming together, quickly forming a small community. The Bobov Grand Rebbe did not survive, ending the rule of his dynasty. In lieu of a single religious and political leader, the eldest or most learned of the various surviving families came together to steer the community, forming a governing group known as the Va’ad.
The very first formal order that the Va’ad issued was in 2126. The council ordered the construction of a large wall, to segregate the Jewish survivors from the rest of the New York City wasteland. Using materials found all around them in the ruins of Brooklyn, the massive wall of wood, concrete and metal quickly went up. As it was being constructed, the curious approached, but based on their intentions, all were either sent packing, or to their graves. By the turn of the decade, the wall around the eight square miles the Jews occupied or claimed as their own was completed.
Cloistered from the wastes around them, the Hasids did what they did best- pray. In their minds, the world was punished for being unrighteous. The men and women of the settlement would be righteous- Tzaddikim- both in order to set an example for the rest of the survivors and to regain the favor of God.
In 2278, a small band of Super Mutants from the Capital Wastelands arrived in the area. Avoiding detection by Libeteria’s Maritime Patrol Force, the Super Mutants sailed into New York Harbor on a hijacked vessel and landed in Brooklyn. The canal they sailed into, the Goowanus, was filled with toxic goo that fundamentally altered the chemical makeup of those that touched it, as the Mutants’ leader, Prometheus, would soon learn. Armed with the ability to create subservient creatures, the Super Mutants set up a camp there and formed an army, the Army of the Righteous Goo.
Given that Shtetl Tzaddikim was located roughly three miles away, the Super Mutants quickly came to blows with the Jewish settlement. The Va’ad had no intention of expanding past the large walls erected around their city, and so Shtetl Tzaddikim has played defense throughout the entire conflict with the mutant army. For nearly a year, Prometheus, the leader of Army of the Righteous Goo, sent wave after wave of his creatures to attack the settlement. Time after time, the defenders of the city repelled the attackers. The siege was not constant, but rather, periodic. As such, the residents of Shtetl Tzaddikim were generally able to go about their daily lives, except when gunfire began erupting outside the walls of the settlement.
In 2280, a crazed ghoul belonging to Buster’s Bombardiers crashed a B-52 into the Army of the Righteous Goo encampment, causing major setbacks for the mutant army. Prometheus, for the time being, has suspended his attacks on Shtetl Tzaddikim, as well as with Libeteria, which he set in his crosshairs.
Because Shtetl Tzaddikim is hesitant to open itself up to the wasteland, the settlement is mostly self-sufficient. Crops are either grown within the walls of the city or in nearby Green-Wood or Prospect Park. Facilities, both left over from Pre-War days and having been constructed after the Great War, exist for more industrial pursuits. Individuals with cursory and advanced knowledge regarding all kinds of trades exist, and produce for the community.
What cannot be produced internally is imported from outside. Though the city is difficult for outsiders to enter into, the residents of Shtetl Tzaddikim are free to come and go as they please. Trade caravans carrying goods from elsewhere are common sights, coming into and leaving the settlement.
Shtetl Tzaddikim is led by the Va’ad, a legislative body composed of prominent rabbi living in the settlement. They rule the city based on halakha, the collective body of Jewish religious and secular law, codified over thousands of years.
The settlement is patrolled and protected by an organized police force known as the Shomrim. Translated as ‘Guardians’, the Shomrim have two distinct branches: Shomrim Ha’Rekhovim, the guardians of the streets, and Shomrim Ha’Mitzvot, the guardians of the commandments.
The Shomrim Ha’Rekhovim ensure that day-to-day order in the city is upheld. Because they primarily deal with victimless, nuisance, and low-level crimes, individual shomer are more proficient in deescalating conflicts and investigation, rather than whipping out weapons and asking questions later.
Within the Shomrim Ha’Rekhovim exists a specialized unit, known as the Shemira. Derived from the Jewish ritual of watching over corpses until burial to protect them from desecration, the Shemira serve as “border guards” between Shtetl Tzaddikim and the rest of the New York City Wasteland at large. The Shemira are better equipped than the rest of the Shomrim Ha’Rekhovim, armed with long guns and clad in more protective armor.
The Shomrim Ha’Mitzvot are, in effect, religious police. They ensure that the residents of the city properly follow the religious proclamations of the Va’ad. Officially, they do not have direct law enforcement capabilities, and are able to only issue strongly worded suggestions and tickets when they discover violations. Unofficially, many of the more zealous members deal with violations of religious law in harsher ways, from indirect punishments such as whisper campaigns to smear one’s image to much more direct methods, such as public beatings or destruction of property.
Shtetl Tzaddikim is located in southwestern Brooklyn, roughly coterminous with the Pre-War neighborhoods of Boro Park, Kensington, and Windsor Heights. The settlement is just over eight square miles in total area, and is shaped roughly like a rectangle. Its northern boundary is Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park, while its southern boundary is the open cut of the former N train subway. Its western boundary is what used to be New Utrecht Avenue, while its eastern boundary is what used to be Ocean Parkway. The people of Shtetl Tzaddikim long ago constructed thick concrete walls around their territory, one of the reasons why the community has been so safe over the years.
Considering themselves different from the other wasteland settlements of the area, Shtetl Tzaddikim has done its best to keep to itself. It is mostly, but not completely, self-sufficient. As a result, the people of the settlement are forced to trade with others in order to procure what they cannot themselves produce.
Historically, New Brighton was Shtetl Tzaddikim’s strongest trading partner. Not only was the settlement in Coney Island geographically closest, but it was also culturally most similar as well. In the late 2270s, all that changed. In 2277, a gang of outsiders took over the city. The politics of other settlements normally would not have an impact on Shtetl Tzaddikim, but these new leaders were interested in in profit over anything else, and had no problem trading with the Army of the Righteous Goo, the mutant army founded in 2278 that had begun attempting to lay siege to Shtetl Tzaddikim. In 2279, the Va’ad placed an embargo on goods to and from New Brighton until their dealings with the Army of the Righteous Goo ended.
The Va’ad has also been historically suspicious of the Federal Republic of Libteria, believing the slowly expanding island nation to be interested in eventually taking over the lands Shtetl Tzaddikim claimed as its own. His suspicion has long since stalled trade agreements that would have benefited both sides. Since the arrival of the Army of the Righteous Goo and losing New Brighton as a trade partner, the Va’ad has warmed up to increased dealings with the federal republic, citing the adage, “the enemy of your enemy is your friend”.