Hasidim - Economy

Commercial Activities. As with other activities in the Hasidic world, employment is balanced on the scale of Religious values. Hasidic Jews do not pursue occupational careers as is the norm in Western culture, but organize their livelihood so that it does not interfere with their religious obligations, such as refraining from work on the Sabbath and major Jewish holidays. As a rule, following their yeshiva studies but sometimes concurrent with them, young men usually learn a trade or business, or are taken into a family business if conditions permit. Most Hasidim are skilled workers and are employed in various facets of the diamond industry, particularly in the New York area, but also hold such jobs as electricians, carpenters, wholesalers, operators of small businesses, and manufacturers. Many as well are employed in religious-oriented occupations and serve as religious teachers, ritual slaughterers, overseers of food products requiring rabbinical supervision, scribes for religious letters and documents, and the manufacturers of religious articles such as phylacteries, prayer shawls, and mezzuzoths. To better control their hours of employment so as to meet their religious obligations, Hasidim prefer either to be self-employed or to work for an Orthodox Jew who will be sympathetic to their religious requirements. While the number of business enterprises in the Hasidic community is increasing, the professional class remains very small since Hasidim restrict secular educational opportunities for their members. Since in only the rarest of cases do Hasidim attend college or university, professionals among the Hasidim received their secular training prior to affiliating with the Hasidic community.

Division of Labor. Attitudes toward women working outside the home have undergone modification. As the value of conspicuous consumption has taken root among young married couples, it is generally expected that in the absence of small children at home a woman ought to be employed. Aside from serving as teachers in their own schools, women are Usually employed in some secretarial capacity in small businesses.


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