Postville by Stephen G. Bloom
A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America

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Synopsis

In 1987, a group of Lubavitchers, one of the most orthodox and zealous of the Jewish sects, opened a kosher slaughterhouse just outside tiny Postville, Iowa (pop. 1,465). When the business became a worldwide success, Postville found itself both revived and divided. The town's initial welcome of the Jews turned into confusion, dismay, and even disgust. By 1997, the town had engineered a vote on what everyone agreed was actually a referendum: whether or not these Jews should stay.

The quiet, restrained Iowans were astonished at these brash, assertive Hasidic Jews, who ignored the unwritten laws of Iowa behavior in almost every respect. The Lubavitchers, on the other hand, could not compromise with the world of Postville; their religion and their tradition quite literally forbade it. Were the Iowans prejudiced, or were the Lubavitchers simply unbearable?

Award-winning journalist Stephen G. Bloom found himself with a bird's-eye view of this battle and gained a new perspective on questions that haunt America nationwide. What makes a community? How does one accept new and powerfully different traditions? Is money more important than history? In the dramatic and often poignant stories of the people of Postville - Jew and gentile, puzzled and puzzling, unyielding and unstoppable - lies a great swath of America today.

 

About Stephen G. Bloom

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Stephen G. Bloom is an award-winning journalist and has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and other major newspapers. He now teaches journalism at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he lives with his wife and son.
 
Published September 10, 2001 by Mariner Books. 384 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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of Iowa) was a piece of flotsam himself, having recently washed up in Iowa after he and his wife had concluded that San Francisco was no longer a fit place in which to raise a family.

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Publishers Weekly

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The slaughterhouse also caused problems: workers were paid below minimum wage and were uninsured, women workers were sexually harassed and fighting among the (often illegal) immigrant workers escalated.

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Project MUSE

A highly acculturated Jew, Bloom clearly rejects the Hasidic culture as a viable option for American Jews.

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