amish one

The Amish, one



barely code (2) persecution
dusk relentless consequence
devout agonize excommunicate
apart forefather upside down
bind handful side-by-side
shun challenge split away
dare blessing bind/bound
harsh harness set of rules
dawn aspect backbreaking







Just a few hours drive from the noisy streets of Philadelphia and New York — there’s another world.

It’s a world frozen in time; home to a people whose way of life has barely changed since their forefathers settled here almost 300 years ago.

These are the Amish.

They’re bound by a code of strict rules that govern every aspect of their lives…rules that keep the modern world out.

They’re not allowed to use mains electricity or drive cars. And they’re not allowed to be filmed.

But from early spring until late autumn, two remarkable men let us into their lives.

They question the very rules that make them Amish. The consequence is excommunication and total rejection by their own people. But a family tragedy will turn their lives upside down.

This is a story of their agonizing struggle to decide to leave the only world they’ve ever known.

Ephram Stoltzfus: “It’s probably the hardest decision that Amish people have to make. It’s a life-changing decision.”

Three hundred years ago, a handful of devout German and Swiss Protestants arrived here in North America to escape religious persecution.

The world has changed a lot since then. But they haven’t.

They came to farm the land. And to live plain and simple lives. They live side-by-side with modern Americans. But they keep themselves apart with a strict set of rules.

These rules are what bind the Amish together. Those who break them are shunned — cut off from their friends and family.

Over the years, this harsh punishment has caused many to split away, and form new and more liberal churches.

But the very first Amish church in the United States is the one here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Old Order Amish have the strictest set of rules. Few dare to challenges them.

But Ephram Stoltzfus is not your average Amish man. He lives an Amish life — but he has a big problem with the Amish rules.

Ephram runs a dairy farm where he lives with his wife Amanda and their four children: six-year old Samuel, Andy aged three, Christopher who’s one-and-a-half, and their five year old daughter, Marie.

Amanda: “I know nothing else but being Amish. And I feel privileged to have grown up Amish. My parents taught me how to work. That in itself is a wonderful blessing.”

If I see something that needs to be done, I’ve been taught to do it.”

Ephram: “Amish is just following a set of rules. You just decide to live a simple lifestyle and get ready to work like crazy.”

As well as the farm, Ephram has a workshop where he makes harnesses for racehorses.

The children work alongside their parents from a very early age. This is where they learn how to be Amish.

Amanda: “They can feel involved when they are a few months old, by just having you carry them along while you are working till you…and after a while they get to be a big help.”

Samuel: “My job is to feed them; and Marie’s job is to get the eggs.”

With over 40 cows to milk, and no modern machinery, the traditional Amish life is one of relentless, backbreaking work, from dawn until dark, every day.

Ephram: “My cows are my pets. The farm and milking cows gives you a disciplined life. But you have to get up in the morning, you have to do it at night. You can’t sleep in for two hours.

One great thing about the farm is there’s work for the whole family, as you see. But they won’t do it unless you teach them. It takes a bit of training.

There was a time in our lives when it was faster to do it ourselves. But we’ve learned that if we take the time to teach our children, it actually speeds the process later.”


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1. All the Amish live in very remote, isolated parts of the United States. Is this correct or wrong?

2. Do they have and follow strict rules? What are some of their rules?

3. Is it okay to question or oppose Amish rules or traditions? What would happen if someone questions or challenges the rules?

4. Where did the Amish originally come from? When did they come to America? Did they come to become successful and prosperous?

5. There is only one Amish group. Is this true or false?

6. What is Ephram’s job? Does he have only one job?

7. Does he work alone? Are they lazy? Do the children only play?
A. Are there such communities in your country?

B. I would like to be an Amish or live like an Amish. Yes or no? Would some outsiders like to live like the Amish?

C. Would the Amish villages be a good tourist attraction?

D. What can outsiders learn from the Amish?

E. What will happen to the Amish? Will they continue their traditional lifestyle?

F. In 100 years, everyone will live like the Amish. What do you think?

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