Satmar Hasidim. Devote their time to Torah studies (archives)

Haredi town is poorest place in US

About 70% Kiryas Joel's residents, most of whom are Satmar Hasidic Jews, report less than $15,000 in annual income. Some 50% of them receive food stamps on regular basis

NEW YORK - The poorest place in the United States is located just 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Manhattan. It's called Kiryas Joel and has 21,000 residents – most of whom are Satmar Hasidic Jews who moved there from Brooklyn about 40 years ago.


About 70% of Kiryas Joel's residents have reported less than $15,000 in annual income. About 50% of the residents receive food stamps on a regular basis, and one-third get regular benefits to finance their housing costs.


The reason for the poverty is that the residents engage mostly in Torah studies. Less than 5% have a bachelor's degree, and only 39% have graduated from high school. The average household size is six people.


“I cannot say as a group that they are cheating the system,” William B. Helmreich, a sociology professor who specializes in Judaic studies at City College of the City University of New York, explained to the Times, “but I do think that they have, no pun intended, unorthodox methods of getting financial support.


"They’re not presenting a picture of poverty as if you would go to a Mexican neighborhood in Corona. They do have organizations that lend money interest-free. They’re also supported by members of the community who are wealthier."


It should be noted that the American Census Bureau figures do not take into account income from donations, which are very significant in such a community.


“I wouldn’t call it a poor community. I would say some are deprived. I would call it a community with a lot of income-related challenges," Gedalye Szegedin, the village administrator, told the New York Times.


“If people want to work in a religious setting and make less than they would earn at B & H, that’s a choice people make."



פרסום ראשון: 04.26.11, 07:48
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