On the front page of the New York Times this morning, there is an article regarding the poorest place in America: Kiryas Yoel. The front picture shows a line of little boys walking on a gorgeous marble floor of the kimpiturn center.
I read the report with my heart in my mouth, terrified the reporter was going to claim financial malfeasance for the low income numbers. But as I read on, my fears eased; what he describes is, well, ironically, something along the lines of a socialist community. Many of the men do sit and learn, and their wives are at home with the children, but wealthier members donate things like carriages and clothing, so they look presentable. The $10 million kimpiturn center was provided for by federal and state money has the women stay for two weeks (I find it irresponsible of hospitals to throw out women who just gave birth after a day) but the $120 rate per night is covered for those who cannot pay, not by Medicaid, but by other members. Their slaughterhouse is a non-profit. The last big fundraiser was for food for Pesach. The many children that each family has is the biggest strain on finances. The money lending organization is mentioned, and how it is interest-free. That concept would be surprising to many non-Jews.
Unlike other poverty stricken areas, there is practically no crime, there is no juvenile delinquency, no teen pregnancy, no AIDS programs needed, no drugs. The money from the government goes to education and food stamps (very few get cash assistance), which would seem a better investment than throwing funds at crime-clogged areas.
An anomaly, as stated in the article.
My heart dropped from my mouth, warming over pleasantly. The reporter Sam Roberts approached the village without the usual anti-Semitic bias (of the New York Times, they do have quite a track record), describing a town that makes it work, taking care of their own.
It really gave a boost to my day. A gitten moed!