Small Iowa Town Makes Steps Toward Acceptance of Jewish Residents

February 19, 2001

Source: Star Tribune

On February 19, 2001, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the 150 to 200 Hasidic Jews who live in Postville, Iowa, "may finally be on the verge of gaining acceptance in this predominantly Christian community of 1,600 residents." The first Jews arrived from New York in 1987. "Last month, in one of the most significant developments yet, the town council appointed its first Jew." Several residents then signed a petition objecting to the appointment. The petition has "forced everybody off the fence" about their position toward Jewish residents. "Religion is at the heart of much of" the hard feelings that have existed between the Jews and the other residents of the town, although they would deny it. In the words of one resident, some "people here in town have not been away long enough to see what the rest of the world is like...They don't give a damn for change." Many non-Jewish residents are accepting of their Jewish neighbors, and they recognize that they share many of the same values.