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1.
old world view - where Ashkenazim lived in walled cities and swarmed all over each other for a few millenia. Russians, Poles and other hosts kept the Ashkenazim segregated in the shtetl.

new world view - any settlement with a high concentration of people of the Hebrew persuasion. Identifiable in any large metropolitan area in North America.

See also the Pale of Settlement and Lower East Side
My ancestors lived in the Lodz shtetl. My wife's ancestors were Litwaks and Galicianers, although every family had some Cossack or Tartar DNA.

We cooked a great brisket in the shtetl, and a pretty good borscht, too. You could hear the violins every night.

Your neighbors know everything about you and your entire family and lineage in the shtetl.

Many find a bizarre comfort in the shtetl, at once claustrophobic and comforting, as opposed to the terrifying life outside the walls.

When you go to an event at the shtetl, you can get a free lucky number pogrom, but the prizes aren't what you would expect.
by adam_before_eve June 10, 2006
 
2.
Modernly used as slang for neighborhood (or more closely; ‘hood) among Jewish youth.
Of course I know how to get there - this is my Shtetl!
by 313ElmSt April 12, 2009