A quick and easy check on locations of Orthodox synagogues in the USA reveals they are only clustered in very high-density populated urban areas. Places where antisemitism is high, where Constitutional rights of individual Americans are more restricted, high crime, high drug abuse, gang activity on the doorstep, high food and housing prices, on and on.

The safest area I've seen a synagogue in was Portland in 2011, and we saw what that became in 2020. There was one Jewish farmer at that synagogue, who lived a little ways out and commuted to the shul before Shabbos with his family in an RV every week.

In many rural areas there are Amish families, far more isolated and insulated that Jewish families, and they thrive. People accept them just fine. Muslims are sometimes in the community and are also accepted. Hollywood seems to perpetuate a number of myths about people in farming communities. Those stereotypes only exist in movies now.

It wouldn't even take 100 families with creatively-arranged acre plots, some even running small farms, to setup an eruv, synagogue, mikveh. And in these areas there are slaughter houses serving adjoining counties who would likely work with a small kosher slaughter house for selling the non-kosher meat that inevitably is produced. Not a lot of dining choices, but a family could easily eat kosher from the grocery store. Chabad centers are usually close by at the nearest university.

There are so many agrarian mitzvot you could do here that are impossible in the high rise of Flat Bush or wherever. Such a better quality of life. And since Noahides were often devout Christians, you're likely to find them there.

So why don't Jews farm (or live in farm-capable areas)? Even if you didn't farm, the quality of life is so much better in those areas. Why not?

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    I'm not sure this is on-topic.
    – N.T.
    Feb 11 at 2:56
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    Hard to make a living as a farmer especially with the high costs of Jewish life... Kosher food, education, holidays, and ritual items
    – Dude
    Feb 11 at 3:39
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    – Joel K
    Feb 11 at 4:19
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    My thoughts without sources: Centuries ago, Eastern European Jews were often forbidden to live in major cities, therefore, they mostly resided in smaller towns and villages. When in the 19th century restrictions on Jews owning land (and living in cities too) were lifted, many of them started to engage in farming and opened agricultural factories. However, in the US it was exactly the opposite. Jews were arriving in major coastal cities, and if they'd wanted to move to rural areas, they'd have needed to convince a bunch of other Jews to move with them to be able to live a religious life. Feb 11 at 11:51
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    On the other hand: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Feb 11 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


Farming is very hard and involves a lot of risk. If a city Jew takes his net worth and converts it to land, equipment, and seed and doesn't make enough profit to live on and buy next year's seed, he's ruined.

Its hard for people who have been farmers for generations and will be near impossible for someone with no experience to start.

Farmers work as long as work is needed and can't afford to keep Shabbat, pop off for mincha, or study Torah.

In short: American Jews don't farm because of high barriers to enter the profession, high risk, and impediments to live the Torah lifestyle. Food prices are far lower than they were in biblical times and you can't make a profit unless you have a huge farm.

  • Also, Jews are not allowed to castrate animals or graft trees. Feb 11 at 3:36
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    Thanks for the perspective. Farms are changing and small-scale organic and locally-produced food does quite well. A free-range chicken will lay 5 eggs a week reliably for 2 years, and require less than 15 minutes of care a day. Trying to get rich farming is very hard. Feeding your family and local community is entirely different. Feb 11 at 18:13

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