Lack of adequate secular education makes many Hasidim unable to find good jobs. Coupled with their many mouths to feed, this often leads to poverty. The New York study showed “fast-rising levels of poverty that appear to be unparalleled in recent history.” One-fifth of New York Jewish households were poor in 2012. Eleven per cent were on food stamps. The community with the nation’s highest poverty rate in 2008 was no ghetto or barrio but the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel in upstate New York.
The insularity and resistance to change of some Hasidic sects and individuals is legendary. A visitor feels “like crossing a border into a foreign country,” according to one observer. In one Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood, illegally posted street signsurged women to cross to the other side to get out of the way if men approached them.
Some Hasidic men caused disturbances on airplanes recently by refusing to sit next to women that were not their wives on flights. Rabbinical assurances to the contrary, they insisted their religion forbids such closeness with women other than their wives and demanded that the women change seats.