When Mrs. F. and her husband decided to move away from Kiryas Joel, the upstate New York shtetl where they grew up, they went to their rebbe to ask for advice.
The couple couldn’t move just anywhere. Both are members of the Satmar Hasidic group, and like all ultra-Orthodox Jews, they had special requirements: a place to pray, a place to take ritual baths, a place for their children to go to school. What’s more, as followers of the grand rabbi of Satmar, they wanted to be somewhere a rebbe would be in control.
“I was looking to go to a place where there is authority,” said Mrs. F., now 30. “There has to be someone that sets the rules.”The couple had their eye on a place a half-hour outside Kiryas Joel, in a tiny village called Bloomingburg. It was a cozy little house on its own lot near Main Street, with a wood burning stove and a shed in the yard. Back home, Mrs. F. says, something like that would set them back over $750,000. The house in Bloomingburg was on sale for a quarter of the price.