Saturday, March 04, 2006


Interesting New York Times article about Vermon, one of the most beautiful states in America and one of the most contrarian:

The article discusses the somewhat bizzarre combination of factors that are causing major problems for the state. It is a very popular retirement desitination and "flatlanders" (non-Vermonters) have been bidding up the price of real estate making it unaffordable for Vermonters. It is difficult to expand businesses because of a lack of labor and little land. (Vermont literally means "Green Mountain" and it is indeed almost totally mountainous.") It is the one state in America with no large cities at all. And it is losing people.

Continuing the thread about immigration, there is a surprising quote from the state's governor, a Republican. He isn't too worried about illegal immigration:

'The worker shortage recently forced Mr. Douglas to say he would not drive out illegal immigrants working on Vermont's dairy farms.

"I respect the laws of the United States, of course," Mr. Douglas said. "But the cows have to be milked."'

Not mentioned in the article is the rather un-diverse population. The 2000 census reported that the population was 96% non-Hispanic white, larger than any other state. There is not a single kosher restaurant in the entire state; the only Orthodox synagogue is a Chabad house in Burlington. Writing from a county that is 15% non-Hispanic white, with over a dozen places to get kosher food and over a dozen Orthodox synagogues, Vermont seems like another world to me.

Yet I have to say that I love Vermont. I visit there often. It is beautiful. It is a great place to hike in the summer and ski in the winter. The people are friendly.

And it has a contrarian streak I admire. You can carry a concealed handgun without a permit. (Don't try that anywhere else in the U.S.!) The state has no death penalty. Vermont sends students to private, independent (but not religious) schools at public expense. Most roads in the state are "paved" with dirt yet they are smoother than most city streets in New York. Nowwithstanding the general lack of yiddishkeit, there is a shomer shabat maple sugar farm run by Jews. (I'm not making this up!) Their congressman is a Jewish socialist. In most of the state it is not illegal to be nude in public, something confirmed by none other than the state's senior U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy, when he was still a local prosecutor, in a rather hilarious legal opinion that is available online: (Skinnydipping in Vermont in May? I've confirmed that this memo is not a hoax. A few years after this memo, Leahy became the only Democrat Vermont has ever elected to the U.S. Senate.)

And Rabbi Eidlitz says that Vermont Maple Syrup is kosher without a hechsher:

Say, there are a bunch of towns in Vermont that had zero population in the 2000 census. (I'm not making this up!) Can we get a bunch of Jews to start a new community? We wouldn't have to fight with non-Jews over an eruv -- because there aren't any!


Blogger judah h said...

There are Orthodox Jews in Burlington and kosher options as well. My friend's in-laws live there.
Another friend's in-laws own a summer place in southern Vermont as well.

8:19 AM  
Blogger judah h said...

I forgot about the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory, another kosher outlet for the sweet tooth.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

I've been to the Ben and Jerry's factory!

I'm afraid if I lived near there I would gain a hundred pounds.

Judah, do you have info on the kosher options in Burlington? If I have to retract my statement on the lack of kosher restaurants I will be quite happy!

4:59 PM  
Blogger judah h said...

I will try to call my friend's in-laws and check.

6:58 PM  

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