For Many Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Amazon Has Become the Marketplace of Choice

Sept. 5 2019

Fifty-eight percent of the purchases made on Amazon are not from the company itself but from smaller retailers who have permission to sell their wares on the website. Of these third-party vendors, some 15 percent are estimated to be businesses owned by Orthodox Jews, half of which are based in a single Brooklyn zip code. Letizia Miranda writes:

With the expansion of third-party marketplaces online, the bar to entry into the retail business [has lowered considerably]—which means ultra-Orthodox Jews, . . . many of whom lack college degrees, have found careers that balance their religious lives with the modern marketplace. . . . The prospect of building a business on Amazon has led to a boom across the Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey and New York.

James Thomson, a manager with Amazon Business Services from 2007 to 2013, told BuzzFeed News that he noticed his third-party seller clients were mainly concentrated in only a handful of neighborhoods—Brooklyn, NY and Fair Lawn and Lakewood, NJ—with large concentrations of Orthodox Jews. “Before I left Amazon, some of my clients were Orthodox sellers, and I saw incredibly sophisticated entrepreneurs and saw business models that weren’t taught in business school,” he said. “It became natural that we’d do anything to make sure we worked with them.”

Amazon’s seller marketplace has also opened a new path for Orthodox women to begin their careers in business. There is such a business in Newark, NJ, on the second floor of a nondescript brick warehouse. The front door opens up to a small office with a set of desks in the front for a receptionist, warehouse manager, and accountant, while an Orthodox man types away on a computer. At the other end sits the owner of this multimillion-dollar online business wearing . . . a wig, a modest blouse, cardigan, and knee-length skirt.

For many Ḥaredim, this line of work is particularly appealing because it allows them to shape their workdays around the rhythms of Torah study, daily prayer, Sabbaths, and holidays. Some have even taken to punning on the company’s name, calling it am mazon—rough Hebrew for “it feeds the people.”

Read more at BuzzFeed News

More about: American Judaism, Haredim, Internet


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy