Wednesday, September 4, 2019

By one estimate, "7% of all Amazon third-party sales originate from a single zip code in Brooklyn [and] Orthodox Jewish–owned businesses make up 15% of marketplace sellers"

Leticia Miranda for Buzzfeed:

In some traditions, Orthodox Jewish men aspire to lives of study, rather than work.

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But on an economic level, this commitment translates into a 28% poverty rate among Orthodox Jews in New York, according to the UJA Federation of New York. Many Orthodox Jews find employment at religious schools and rely on welfare to support their large families, which have an average of seven children.

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Like many Orthodox women, Yisroel’s wife had been supporting the family for nearly 20 years while he studied the Talmud. But by 2013, the financial strain of children attending yeshivos at $25,000 a year grew too onerous.

“We had eight children and another on the way and it just, it was just the time to switch,” he said. “We needed something big.”

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In fact, Yisroel’s business has suffered because of Jewish rules around Passover. Amazon’s algorithm pushes a seller’s rank down when they are out of stock, part of the company’s method to get customers the items they order quickly. At one time, Yisroel was selling bread and cookies, which Jews aren’t allowed to possess during Passover. Since he didn’t have them in stock, his seller rank took a hit. It took him two months to get back to where he had been before. Now he sells those items directly to Amazon, so he’s never in possession of bread or cookies during Passover.