William B. Helmreich

William Helmreich (August 25, 1945 – March 28, 2020) was a professor of sociology at the City College of New York Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.[1] He was also a published author.[2][3][4]

William Benno Helmreich
Born(1945-08-25)August 25, 1945
DiedMarch 28, 2020(2020-03-28) (aged 74)
AwardsNational Jewish Book Award for Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice, 2015 GANYC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Book Writing
Academic background
Alma materYeshiva University (BA)
Washington University (MA, PhD)
Academic work

Helmreich was a distinguished professor at the City University of New York,[4] who specialized in race and ethnic relations, religion, immigration, risk behavior, the sociology of New York City, urban sociology, consumer behavior, and market research. He died during the COVID-19 pandemic due to complications brought on by COVID-19.

Early lifeEdit

Helmreich was born in 1945 in Zürich, Switzerland,[5][6] the son of Holocaust survivor parents.[7] In 1946, he was brought to the US as an infant,[8][3] and grew up in New York City on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.[9]


Helmreich wrote about his early years in a book he named "Wake Up, Wake Up, to Do the Work of the Creator" (a phrase, spoken in Yiddish, by those who went house-to-house to awaken worshippers for daily prayer).[10]

When asked about recordings of "many of the famous roshei Yeshiva of yesteryear" whom he interviewed, "Do you still have the recordings?" he replied "At one time I thought I did, but it seems that all I have are the transcripts." These he donated to his alma mater,[11] Yeshiva University.[12][13]


  • The Black Crusaders (1973)
  • The things they say behind your back (1982)
  • The World of the Yeshiva (1982)
  • Flight Path (1989)
  • Against All Odds (1992)
  • The Enduring Community (1998)
  • What Was I Thinking (2010)
  • The New York Nobody Knows (2013)
  • The Brooklyn Nobody Knows (2016)
  • The Manhattan Nobody Knows (2018)

The World of the YeshivaEdit

Helmreich revised his 1982 The World of the Yeshiva 18 years later[1] by comparing sociological changes "among the strictly Orthodox" since his 1980 research. Two areas about the new edition highlighted by The New York Times are the doubling in those doing full-time "collegiate and graduate"-level religious studies and population growth.


Helmreich died of COVID-19 on March 28, 2020, in Great Neck, New York, at the age of 74, during the COVID-19 pandemic.[14][5]


  1. ^ a b Niebuhr, Gustav (June 11, 2000). "Yeshivas of Traditional Orthodoxy Flourishing". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Roberts, Sam (January 1, 2017). "Exploring New York, on Foot and With Maps". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b Rosenblum, Constance (December 12, 2013). "Hell on Shoe Leather". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b "William Helmreich". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (March 30, 2020). "William Helmreich, Sociologist and a Walker in the City, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  6. ^ Roberts, Sam (September 6, 2018). "He Walked 721 Miles to Find the Nooks and Crannies of 'The Manhattan Nobody Knows'". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Sturla, Anna. "He walked every block of New York City and died of coronavirus". CNN. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  8. ^ Lehmann, James H. (August 1977). "Wake Up, Wake Up, to Do the Work of the Creator, by William B. Helmreich". Commentary Magazine.
  9. ^ Roberts, Sam (November 1, 2013). "Above Ground and Below". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Chapter-II 2. Naipaul's and Richler's Works" (PDF). ... in keeping with the biblical source ... "Abraham rose up early ..."
  11. ^ "Reunions". Yeshiva University. Retrieved October 25, 2019. ... Dr. William Helmreich (1967)
  12. ^ Resnick, Elliot (December 4, 2013). "Six Thousand Miles And Nine Pairs Of Shoes Later: An Interview with Professor William Helmreich". The Jewish Press.
  13. ^ with which he is still actively involved: Medina, Jennifer (August 28, 2002). "Wanted: University President/Religious Leader". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Heilman, Uriel (March 30, 2020). "William Helmreich, sociologist of US Jewry and inveterate New Yorker, dies of coronavirus". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 30, 2020.