Postville, Iowa, home of the now-defunct Agriprocessors slaughterhouse, is a rural town struggling with diversity, brought down by political indifference and a failed immigration policy, “a little town…on the losing end of global forces bigger than itself and even its country.”
That’s the premise of “Postville, U.S.A.: Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America,” scheduled for publication later this month, an analysis of what went wrong 20 years after the Brooklyn-based Rubashkin family created what would become the nation’s largest kosher meat packing plant.
The slim, 155-page volume is an insider’s story by Mark Grey and Michele Devlin, sociologists at the University of Iowa who specialize in the changing demographics of the Midwest, and former Postville City Councilmember Aaron Goldsmith, a Lubavitcher Chasid active in business and city politics.
The book’s main strength is its authors’ intimacy with the story. All three spent more than a decade examining the fragile modus vivendi constructed as the town’s white, Christian population of 2,000 absorbed some 400 Chasidic Jews and several thousand immigrant laborers, mostly Latino, who arrived to work at the kosher plant.
The authors provide a month-by-month chronicle of the time leading up to the May 2008 federal immigration raid at the plant and the year since, as the town’s population was decimated and its infrastructure destroyed.
Media coverage of the Agriprocessors story has focused on the Jewish angle, the specific tensions caused by Orthodox Jews moving to the town and creating their own separate, privileged world.
But while the book’s authors acknowledge the “greed” of the plant’s former owners, and say it was the Jewish element of the story that kept the story in the news, they insist that was not the deciding factor in Postville’s downfall.
Read full story – HERE
Buy the book on Amazon.com