Postville

Made by Rachel Vargo and Benjamin Williams

Identity of the Jews

The Hasidic Jews retained their identity by continuing to wear their kipaphs (Jewish hats), black clothing, top hats, and not shaving their beards (in the case of men). They did not conform to meet the standards of smalltown Postville, instead opting to stay static and keep their culture.

Culture Traits of the Hispanics

The Hispanic immigrants of Postville spoke Spanish, obviously, and did not immediately conform to Postville's native language of English. However, both old-time citizens and the immigrants shared a common religion of Catholicism, albeit Hispanics practiced in Spanish rather than English. The Hispanic population also retained some forms of dress (eg, sombreros), as well as their cuisine.

Racism and Residential Segregation

Both the Hasidic Jews and Hispanics faced discrimination in Postville. Hispanics, for example, were thought to bring poverty and crime. Property prices were raised in an attempt to discourage Hispanics from purchasing houses or property in Postville, forcing most Latino immigrants to live in a trailer park. The Police were also called frequently due to people believing that Hispanics, when congregating, were planning something sinister.


The Hasidic Jews were at first treated kindly, though due to the townspeople not understanding Jewish laws and customs, they quickly grew to dislike Jews.


Jews were disliked by the townspeople because the Jews could not eat with them at the diner (can't eat non-Kosher foods), had unusual customs (wearing Kippahs, wore black clothes, etc etc), didn't mow their lawns as much as the older residents, and seemed to be sexists (thanks to a Jewish scripture that says that men and women cannot touch unless they are married, which pretty much discourages speaking).

Acculturation

When the Jews first came into town, the townspeople thought they were weird and different. They wore different clothes, ate different foods, had different beliefs, and were not friendly. Everyone thought they just didn't belong. The longer they lived in the town the more people got used to them and soon they became a normal thing. Eventually the Mexicans came which was a big change for everyone. Not only did they speak a different language, but their skin tone wasn't even the same! Jews had become the norm now and the Mexican had been the odd ones out.

Local Culture

The local culture of Postville, before the newcomers, was fresh cut grass every week, Catholic church every Sunday in English, and friendly smiles. They worked hard to keep the same customs and traits of the land that they had always had. It worked out until the Jews came and didn't go to the same church, or didn't mow their lawn, or the Mexicans going to church in Spanish on Saturdays.