T O P I C
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
THIS TOPIC IS DIVIDED INTO TWO PARTS
Part 1 MODERN HISTORY OF ISRAEL
HAREDIM or CHAREDIM (ULTRA ORTHODOX) IN ISRAEL
SEE ALSO WOMEN IN JUDAISM
WHO ARE THE HAREDIM?
Learn About Ultra-Orthodox Jews
ThoughtCo by Chaviva Gordon-Bennett, Updated March 20, 2018
In the world of Jewish observance and identification, it is haredi Jews, or haredim that are perhaps the most visually identifiable and, yet, most misunderstood. Although a fairly new classification or identification in the Jewish world, countless books and articles have been written about just who the Haredim are, their role in the greater Jewish and global society, and exactly what and how they believe and observe.
That being said, the best that can be done here is to provide an origin story and provide plenty of details so that you, the reader, can continue to explore.
MEANING AND ORIGINS
The verb hared can be found in Isaiah 66:2, meaning “to tremble” or “to fear.”
And all these My hand made, and all these have become," says the Lord. "But to this one will I look, to one poor and of crushed spirit, and who (v’hared) trembles at my word.”
In Isaiah 66:5, the terminology is similar but appears as a plural noun.
Hear the word of the LORD, you that tremble (ha’haredim) at His word: Your brethren that hate you, that cast you out for My name's sake, have said: “Let the Lord be glorified, that we may gaze upon your joy,” but they shall be ashamed.
Despite this very early appearance of the term hared (verb) and haredim (noun), the use of these words to describe a specific and unique subset of the greater Jewish population is a very modern invention.
A search of the seminal 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia turns up no reference to a group of Jews or a religious practice relating to the terminology at all, but rather to a medieval work by a rabbi living in Tzfat.
This first appearance of the terminology to refer to a specific type of religious practice comes in the late 16th century from Rabbi Elazar ben Moses ben Elazar (known as the Azkari), who was living in the center of mystical Judaism (kabbalah): Tzfat.
Although not himself a kabbalist, he was close with many of the great kabbalistic sages of the time. It was during his time there that he wrote Haredim, The Devout Ones, which detailed what he considered the three principles of religious devotion: knowledge of God, strict observance of the mitzvot (commandments), and penitence.
It took another four centuries, however, for the word to work its way into popular usage.
As more diversity arose in the religious, Torah-observant community in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries thanks to emancipation, revolutions, and the evolution of modern society, a need arose to develop new and, often, schismatic sociological classifications. Under the umbrella of “Orthodox Judaism,” you will find many of these different sociological classifications, including just Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, Haredi (often termed “Ultra Orthodox”), or Hasidic. It is important to note that these are loosely organized groups with an individual or body of leadership to maintain a standard and enforcement of the mitzvot. You will rarely find two religious, Torah-observant Jews (let alone Reform or Conservative Jews) who pray, speak, and believe in the same way, but there are generally accepted ways that these groups identify each other and identify themselves.
In the United States, Orthodox Jews have a variety of bodies of leadership to look to, from the Orthodox Union to local rabbinical councils, while in Israel Orthodox Jews look to the rabbinate for rulings and elucidations about halacha or Jewish law. These types of Orthodox Jews tend to live very modern lifestyles, complete with in-home computers, high-tech secular jobs, modern attire, active social lives, and so on. To these Jews, modern culture and society do not pose a risk to Orthodox Judaism.
HAREDIM AND HASIDIM
In the United States, Haredim, while viewing general culture as a great threat to Orthodoxy, will participate in secular professions. At the same time, they will do their utmost to avoid accepting or assimilating any secular culture into their personal lives. For example, the haredim of the Kiryat Yoel community in New York are bused daily into New York to work for the immensely successful B&H Photo Video, which closes for all Jewish holidays and the Sabbath.
You will find men dressed in black and white with kippot and payot explaining to you how the newest flat screen technology can make a difference in your at-home screening room. Yet, when they leave their jobs, they return to a disconnected community focused on family, study, and prayer.
In Israel, it has been much more common for haredim to live very insular lives. In certain haredi communities, the entire infrastructure, from jobs to school and legal systems are maintained within the confines of the community itself. The Israeli haredi community is also known for its sometimes violent and hateful outbursts against moves toward modernity and a more cohesive Israeli society. Slowly and carefully, this is changing, with new educational initiatives to bring secular study into a strictly religious environment to provide more opportunities for women and children, and even haredim playing crucial roles as soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), from which they were once exempt from service.
Haredim are easily identifiable, as different groups wear specific dress. For some it is a specific type of hat, while for others it is a specific type of shoe, sock, and pant, not to mention the shtreimel, which sets them apart from the mainstream Orthodox community. Likewise, the women of these communities tend to dress in black, navy blue, and white, and each group observes the commandment of hair covering in its own unique way.
WITHIN THE HAREDI COMMUNITY
Then, within the haredi community, you have the hasidim, or "pious ones."
Hasidic Judaism arose in the 18th century through the Ba’al Shem Tov, who believed that Judaism should be accessible to all and that prayer and a connection to God should be filled with great joy. Hasidic Jews place a great emphasis on a strict observance of the mitzvot, as well as on mysticism. Out of this movement grew great dynasties that grew and changed throughout the generations, with each following a tzaddik, or righteous one, who more recently became known as a rebbe, or teacher. The most well-known and influential Hasidic dynasties today are those of Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar (this is the group that lives in Kiryat Yoel mentioned above), Belz, and Ger. Each of these dynasties, except for Lubavitch, is still led by a rebbe.
Frequently, the terms haredim and hasidim are used interchangeably. However, although all hasidim are categorized as haredim, not all haredim are hasidim. Confused?
Take Chabad, the hasidic dynasty. Chabad Jews live all over the world, drink Starbucks, have cell phones and computers, and, in some cases, dress very modern and stylish (although the men do maintain beards and the women do cover their hair)—all while maintaining a strict observance of the commandments.
There are countless misconceptions and misunderstandings about just who is a haredi Jew—both from within and outside of the greater Jewish community. But as the haredi Jewish population continues to grow in the U.S., Israel, and elsewhere, it is important to examine the available information, speak to and try to understand haredi Jews, and understand that, as with all religions, cultures, and peoples, a sociological classification is in a constant state of change, transformation, and self-discovery.
Forward, January 8, 2018
Every eighth citizen of Israel is an ultra-Orthodox Jew. The fertility rate of ultra-Orthodox women—which is three times that of their secular counterparts in Israel—has produced a vast community of a million people, whose future still lies ahead of it: fully fifty percent of all ultra-Orthodox were born in the twenty-first century. Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman of blessed memory, who passed away last month at the age of 104, was the leader of one of the youngest communities in the world.
Despite their numbers and importance, the ultra-Orthodox are Israel’s biggest sociological mystery. Their self-segregation, compounded by their compatriots’ lack of interest, has walled them up inside a black box that the Israeli majority cannot fathom. The attitude towards them is based on two duelling stereotypes:
On the one hand, their self-segregation and the political battles they wage, such as the conflict over prayers at the Western Wall, shape the public view that they are extremists, obscurantist's, and exploiters. On the other hand, some see the ultra-Orthodox as the authentic Jews, without whom the Jewish people cannot survive. Ariel Sharon, secular through and through, often said that “if we don’t have Yeshivot there will be no Jewish people.”
Stereotypes—positive and negative—are an obstacle to the development of a serious and peaceful partnership between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israel. So it is vital to make the facts about the ultra-Orthodox available—a mission served by The Yearbook on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel 2017, published this week by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.
Unlike the situation in the past, today ultra-Orthodox are entering the workforce in droves. In 2002, only a third of Israeli ultra-Orthodox men and half of ultra-Orthodox women were employed. Today, the majority of ultra-Orthodox work—half of the men and two-thirds of the women. As a result, the sector’s economic distress has dropped sharply, from 58% below the poverty line in 2005 to 45% today. If the government acts wisely, by limiting economic support for yeshiva (seminary) students and increasing the incentives for ultra-Orthodox workers and their employers, the proportion of ultra-Orthodox who go out to work will continue to grow. This is an existential need for the Israeli economy.
The ultra-Orthodox are also flocking to higher education. Their enrollment in post-secondary institutions has grown tenfold in the past decade, to around 11,000 today. This includes 1,500 who are studying for advanced degrees. The High Court of Justice is currently hearing a petition alleging that gender and sector-based segregation on college campuses is unconstitutional. Its decision needs to strike a balance between the real concern about discrimination against women and the serious problem of excluding ultra-Orthodox from higher education. A purist position on either side would cost all of us dearly.
The ultra-Orthodox and the military (IDF) is another sad story. As of today, roughly a third of male graduates of ultra-Orthodox schools are enlisting in the IDF or National Service. Although this is insufficient and we still have a long road ahead of us, here too there is a clear trend towards integration. The Knesset, which needs to pass a new compulsory conscription law during the coming year, will have to show moderation and balance: ultra-Orthodox must not enjoy a blanket exemption from service, but neither should they be forced into the military by criminal sanctions. The appropriate way to encourage enlistment in the “people’s army” involves a variety of incentives that exert strong economic leverage.
Over the past seven years, internet use by ultra-Orthodox has increased from 28% to 43% of the sector. All the information in the world is now available to almost half of ultra-Orthodox. The internet is a channel that tunnels deep under the walls that cloister the ultra-Orthodox from the rest of the world. Silicon Valley has made inroads into the ultra-Orthodox city Bnei Brak, with huge effects.
The changes of the past fifteen years extend to demography: ultra-Orthodox are marrying later than in the past (the proportion of ultra-Orthodox who marry before age 24 has decreased from 61% to “only” 44%); the average number of children per woman has decreased by 0.6 (from 7.5 to 6.9); and the growth rate of the ultra-Orthodox education systems has slowed by a quarter within only four years.
All these numbers reflect significant changes, given the short time period, and clearly herald the start of a substantial “normalization” of ultra-Orthodox society in Israel. Will the process decelerate or accelerate? It is the ultra-Orthodox themselves who will make the decision. No one can or should decide for them. Nevertheless, a wise and balanced policy—in legislation, budgeting, and jurisprudence—is the need of the hour.
STATISTICAL REPORT ON ULTRA-ORTHODOX SOCIETY IN ISRAEL, 2016
The Israel Democracy Institute, 2016
Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in Israel have chosen to erect “walls of holiness” to separate themselves from society at large. This voluntary segregation is virtually all-encompassing, extending not only to beliefs and opinions unique to this community, but also to the spatial, educational, cultural, communicational and political spheres. For many years, Israeli society’s response to the haredi desire for separation was disregard and estrangement, with only rare glimpses beyond the “walls.” The haredi community was in effect absolved of the responsibilities and obligations shared by Israeli society as a whole, thereby reinforcing its members’
Since the late 1990s, however, there has been increasing public, academic and media interest in the haredi community as a result of the group’s rapid demographic growth, with all its social, economic and political ramifications.
Yet, despite this growing awareness, a systematic database of haredi society is noticeably lacking. The consequence is a lack of answers to key questions, from the size of the community and its school system to employment and participation rates in new programs, and from military and civilian national service to higher education.
The 2016 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel aims to answer these questions and more, assembling a vast range of data for the first time in one place. It offers a wealth of information on haredi demography and voting patterns in Knesset elections, as well as data on the community’s poverty rates, employment patterns, education system, standard of living, and way of life. The tables and figures appearing in the report present the most up-to-date figures coupled with past data so that, in addition to the existing situation, the reader can learn about changing trends over time.
As detailed in these pages, the haredi community is a multifaceted group—at times different from the rest of Israeli society, at other times, remarkably similar. The portrait that emerges is of a conservative society, which is nonetheless experiencing rapid change. Taken as a whole, the report allows the reader to see how diverse and dynamic present-day haredi society is, mitigating the perception of it as a monolithic entity with uniform behaviors.
By presenting reliable, current information about haredi society, we hope relationship with mainstream society – decision makers in politics, the private sector and civil society – as well as anyone interested in this topic – researchers, media and the general public.
To make the information clear and accessible, we have added explanations of each of the tables and figures, including an analysis of the primary findings and a review of emerging trends. This report is an essential tool for assessing developments and processes underway in haredi society. For this reason, we plan to produce an updated report each year and to expand the number of subjects examined over time.
Gathering statistics on haredi society obliged us to grapple with the question of, “Who is haredi?” The major methodologies that exist today for identifying haredim quantitatively/statistically are as follows:
(1) direct identification by subjective self-definition,
(2) identification by educational institution under haredi supervision,
(3) identification by electoral patterns, (voting for haredi parties), and
(4) identification based on National Insurance Institute (NII) data
(yeshiva students [men], or students at haredi teacher-training seminaries [women]).
Since more than one method of identification was used for each subject area studied, we noted the relevant category for each table or figure.
This report is a joint publication of the Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. We wish to thank the team members from both institutes who played a part in bringing the report to fruition, along with the various government ministries for their cooperation in providing relevant statistics.
We also wish to thank the Russell Berrie Foundation for its generous support throughout the project.
We hope that you will find in the pages of this report the answers to a variety of questions relating to haredi society in Israel. Comments and suggestions for future yearbooks are welcome.
The Report is divided into the following sections
Standard of Living pp16
Poverty and Standard of Living pp16
Way of Life and Voting Patterns pp24
STATISTICAL REPORT ON ULTRA-ORTHODOX SOCIETY IN ISRAEL, DECEMBER 31, 2017
Press Release Written By: Dr. Lee Cahaner, Dr. Gilad Malach, Dr. Maya Choshen
The report displays significant changes that have occurred in ultra-Orthodox society over recent years, and indicates growing integration of the ultra-Orthodox into mainstream Israeli society, alongside sustained cultural isolationism. The picture that emerges from the report is one of continued increase in the numbers of ultra-Orthodox students in the higher education system, a rise in the number of those taking high-school matriculation exams, and positive trends in employment (though these have slowed over the last year). In addition, the report reveals the continued existence of gaps in income and in tax returns between ultra-Orthodox Israelis and the general population.
The report shows significant developments within the ultra-Orthodox society - this trend of integration must be encouraged, while allowing the ultra-Orthodox to maintain their beliefs and culture alongside other sectors of Israeli society.
Dr. Gilad Malach
POPULATION - This year, the number of ultra-Orthodox Israelis rose above one million for the first time, and they now consist 12% of the population. By 2030, the ultra-Orthodox sector is expected to reach 16% of the total population, and by 2065, will make up one third of Israel’s overall population and 40% of its Jewish population. The ultra-Orthodox population is also relatively young: 58% are aged 0–19, compared with 30% of the rest of the Jewish population. Also, in recent years, there has been a decline in the fertility rate among ultra-Orthodox women, from 7.5 offspring per ultra-Orthodox woman in 2003 to 6.9 today (compared with 2.4 for other Jewish women).
FAMILY STATUS - The marriage rate in the ultra-Orthodox population (aged 20 and above) stands at 82%, compared with 63% for the rest of the Jewish population. However, there has been a rise in age at time of marriage in recent years: while in 2005, 61% of ultra-Orthodox young adults aged 20–24 were married, this figure has now dropped to 44%. A significant shift is also evident across a broader age group. In 2005, 76% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis aged 20-29 were married, compared with just 67.5% in 2016. Accordingly, the marriage rate for ultra-Orthodox women aged 20–29 was 80% in 2005, but by 2016 this had dropped to 67%. A slight decline was also seen in the marriage rates for ultra-Orthodox men over the same period, from 71% to 68%.
EDUCATION - There are currently approximately 300,000 students in the ultra-Orthodox education system, representing 18% of the student population in Israel. However, the annual growth rate of the ultra-Orthodox system slowed from 4.2% in 2013 to 3.2% in 2016. By contrast, the annual growth rate of the Hebrew-language state school system rose over the same period from 0.5% to 2.3%. There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon: the falling birth rate in the ultra-Orthodox sector; and the decline in the attractiveness of ultra-Orthodox schools for families who are not explicitly ultra-Orthodox in observance.
The proportion of high-school students in the ultra-Orthodox education system taking matriculation exams has risen from 23% in 2005 to 33% in 2015. This increase can largely be attributed to the fact that the share of ultra-Orthodox girls taking matriculation exams rose during this decade from 31% to 51%, while there was actually a decline among ultra-Orthodox boys from 16% in 2009 to 13% in 2015. It is also worth noting that while the number of full-time ultra-Orthodox yeshiva (seminary) students grew by 4% per year between 1999 and 2012, their number then declined by 16% between 2012 and 2014, a period when there were no ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition. This decline be partially explained by both subsidy cuts to yeshivas (religious seminaries) as well as lowering the exemption age from military service. Accordingly, in 2016, following the return to the coalition of the ultra-Orthodox parties, the number of full-time yeshiva students grew once more by 4%.
HIGHER EDUCATION - The number of ultra-Orthodox students in the higher education system has grown tenfold over the last decade, from 1,000 to 10,800. There are now also approximately 1,500 ultra-Orthodox students in advanced degree programs. Of the ultra-Orthodox students in higher education, 69% are women, and only 31% are men. The breakdown of (bachelor’s degree) subjects taken by ultra-Orthodox students differs greatly from that among the general population: 34% study education, compared with 18% of the general population; 11% study paramedical subjects, compared with 6% of the general population; and only 8% study engineering, compared with 18% of the general population.
INCOME AND EXPENSES - The average monthly income of ultra-Orthodox households is NIS 12,616, approximately 35% lower than the average income of other Jewish households. In a comparison of per capita income, the comparative difference jumps to 171%, with a monthly average of NIS 2,168 in the ultra-Orthodox population and NIS 5,876 for other Jews. The main reason for this is the relativly large size of ultra-Orthodox households. Income from work represents just 65% of ultra-Orthodox household income (24% from pensions and stipends, and only 10% from capital returns), compared with 78% among other Jewish households. Accordingly, benefit payments make up 24% of the income of ultra-Orthodox families, while only 1% of their income comes from capital, pensions, and savings plans, compared with 10% for other Jewish families. Due in part to their relatively low income, the ultra-Orthodox pay an average of just NIS 1,261 per month in taxes, around one-third of the tax payments of other Jewish families.
Despite the relatively large size of ultra-Orthodox families, their monthly expenditures on various products and services are 15% lower than those of other Jewish families, coming to an average of NIS 13,676. Breaking down these expenses by type reveals a great degree of similarity between ultra-Orthodox and other Jewish households regarding spending on food, housing, health, and education. There are, however, differences in expenditures on transport and communications, which make up just 12% of the expenses of ultra-Orthodox households, compared with 21% for other Jewish families. This can be explained in part, because ultra-Orthodox Israelis are more reliant on public transport rather than private cars, and use the Internet and cable television much less.
POVERTY - The poverty rate among ultra-Orthodox Israelis fell to 45% in 2016, its lowest level in more than a decade. This is a result of the trend of increased ultra-Orthodox integration into the workforce, along with increased government support.
HOUSING - Over the last decade (2006–2016), there has been a decline in home ownership in the ultra-Orthodox sector (from 79% in 2006 to 75% in 2016), while ownership rates in the rest of the Jewish population have remained steady. This is an indication both of economic difficulty and of social change processes that have made renting a home more acceptable for young couples.
TRANSPORTATION - Only 42% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis hold a driver’s license (compared with 81% of other Jewish Israelis), though there has been a significant rise in the number of ultra-Orthodox women with a driver’s license, from 21% in 2008 to 29% in 2016. Accordingly, only 41% of ultra-Orthodox households own a car (compared with 79% of other Jewish households), though this represents a significant rise since 2003, when the figure was 31%.
Among ultra-Orthodox employees, only 20% travel to work by car (compared with 51% in the general population). A quarter (25%) of ultra-Orthodox men travel to work by public transport, and 14% walk. Only 16% of ultra-Orthodox women travel to work by car, 36% by public transport, 19% on foot, and 7% by bus, provided by their employers. One interesting trend is that ultra-Orthodox Israelis are traveling further to work: while in 2013, 45% traveled no more than 15 minutes to their workplace, in 2016, this dropped to 40%. Among women, the proportion of those who work close to home has fallen from 48% to 38% over the last three years.
EMPLOYMENT - Since 2002, ultra-Orthodox employment rates have increased from 35% of men and 50% of women to 52% and 73%, respectively. However, the steady rise seen in recent years stagnated in 2015 and 2016. It would seem likely that the policies of the current government, which has reduced incentives to enter the workforce and increased support for full-time yeshiva students, have played a role in this slowdown.
The average salary of ultra-Orthodox employees is significantly lower than that of other Jews, at NIS 6,701 versus NIS 10,776. The difference between salaries of ultra-Orthodox men and other Jewish men is 39%, compared with 32% for women. The lower wages for men are due mainly to lower hourly wages (73% of the average), while among women, the gap is largely due to the fact that 78% of ultra-Orthodox women work in part-time jobs. A significant trend noted in the report relates to the fields of employment of ultra-Orthodox women: while in 2001, 64% of ultra-Orthodox women were employed in education, this figure has now declined to 42% (compared with 17% among other Jewish women).
Only 6% of employed ultra-Orthodox Israelis, hold managerial positions, compared with 15% among the general Jewish population. Ultra-orthodox employees also attribute less importance to advancement at work than their counterparts—41% versus 51%. However, more than half of ultra-Orthodox young adults (aged 20–34) view promotion prospects at their workplace as important. For ultra-Orthodox Israelis, work is seen mainly as an existential need: 57% define their salary as the most important factor in wanting to change jobs, compared with 37% in the rest of the Jewish population. At the same time, while 77% of older ultra-Orthodox workers view income as the main reason to move to another job, only 48% of the younger group feels this way.
JOB SATISFACTION - Ultra-Orthodox Israelis are happier with their home-work balance: 67% say they are satisfied, compared with 57% of their counterparts in the general Jewish population. Of employed ultra-Orthodox Israelis, 92% feel that their work has value, 96% feel that their managers treat them with respect, and 83% have not been given tasks that clash with their values. Surprisingly, 96% of ultra-Orthodox employees report that they have never encountered discrimination in the workplace. However, ultra-Orthodox workers describe their workplace as more pressured than do the rest of the Jewish population: only 42% are able to take frequent breaks, compared with 61% in the general Jewish population, and only a minority are members of a union (17%, compared with 33% in the general Jewish population).
MILITARY SERVICE - In 2016, despite the repeal of the “Equal Burden” Law, 34% of graduates of the ultra-Orthodox education system enlisted in the IDF or joined a civilian national service framework (some 3,500 ultra-Orthodox men). Having said that, the IDF has not met its enlistment targets over the last year, particularly for civilian service, which registered only 667 volunteers rather than the target of 2,000. Of the ultra-Orthodox men who enlisted, 81% preferred military service, and only 19% chose civilian service.
TECHNOLOGY - In recent years, there has been a significant increase in Internet use among ultra-Orthodox Israelis, from 28% in 2009 to 43% in 2016. Ultra-Orthodox women use the Internet more than men—47% versus 39%.
LEISURE - Just under half (49%) of ultra-Orthodox Israelis vacation in Israel, compared with 61% of the rest of the Jewish population. The gaps are wider regarding foreign vacations: 16% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis travel abroad, compared with 47% of the rest of the Jewish population. However, this figure has risen in recent years, from 12% in 2014 to 16% in 2016, indicating the development of a leisure culture and the growth of an ultra-Orthodox middle class.
Israel Democracy Institute says that after steady rise over several years, rate dropped by 1.4% in 2017
The Times of Israel's By AP and TOI STAFF 5 February 2018,
New statistics indicate that after years of growth the number of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Israel’s workforce has begun to decline.
The Israel Democracy Institute, citing official figures, said Monday that ultra-Orthodox male employment dropped from 51.7 percent in 2016 to 50.3% in 2017, halting a steady rise.
The rate was below 40% in 2001, but remains well below the OECD employment rate of over 80%. Ultra-orthodox women are better integrated, according to earlier statistics by the Bank of Israel, with their employment levels rising from below 50% in 2001 to close to 70% in 2016, above the OECD average of 60%.
Gilad Malach, an institute researcher who specializes in the community, said the main cause is renewed subsidies to seminary students provided by a government that relies on the support of ultra-Orthodox parties.
For decades, the ultra-Orthodox have leveraged their significant political power into maintaining a segregated lifestyle. They run a separate network of schools, enjoy sweeping military draft exemptions and raise large families on taxpayer-funded handouts.
Ultra-Orthodox leaders insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, and that integration into the secular military and workforce will undermine their lifestyle.
With high birth rates and high unemployment levels, the ultra-Orthodox community is among the poorest in Israel. But previous government programs, and a push from within, have led to increased integration.
The Taub Center’s State of the Nation Report for 2016 indicated that from 2008 to 2014, the number of ultra-Orthodox enrolled in academic learning institutions rose almost three-fold, from 1,222 to 3,227. Some 1,600 ultra-Orthodox women and 450 men graduated with academic degrees in 2014, compared to only some 650 women and 200 men in 2012.
The Bank of Israel has warned that the low employment rates among ultra-Orthodox men and Arab women in particular were hindering the country’s long-term growth prospects. Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s 8 million citizens and the ultra-Orthodox are about 10%. Both are among the fastest-growing segments of society.
NY Times ISABEL KERSHNERSEPT. 12, 2017
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the current government arrangement allowing for mass exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling redraws the battle lines over an issue that has long roiled Israeli society.
The impassioned debate over military exemptions for strictly Orthodox Jews engaged in full-time Torah study goes to the heart of the struggle for the future character of Israel.
In a country where most Jewish men and women are conscripted at 18, and where the military is hallowed as a social equalizer and a people’s army protecting Israel from threats on its borders, past attempts to reduce the scope of exemptions and create a more equitable sharing of the national burden only seem to have underscored deep social divisions.
“The history of this societal controversy reflects the history of the State of Israel itself,” wrote the departing president of the Supreme Court, Justice Miriam Naor, in the 148-page ruling, noting that the court had already ruled on the issue several times before.
The court gave the government a year to come up with alternative legislation that would satisfy the basic principle of equality. This latest ruling came in response to a petition by several nongovernmental pressure groups and Yesh Atid, a centrist party led by Yair Lapid, who has championed the cause of equal service in recent years both in the government and now in the opposition.
The court decision was reached by eight members of a nine-judge panel sitting as the High Court of Justice, with one member dissenting. It presents a new challenge for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beleaguered by corruption investigations and reliant on the support of his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.
Ultra-Orthodox politicians strongly denounced the ruling and vowed to fight it, but given the yearlong time frame for amending the law, the stability of the governing coalition did not appear to be in imminent danger.
“Those same Torah sons who chose to dedicate their lives to Torah study will continue to study Torah here in the land of Israel, the holy land,” said Aryeh Deri, the interior minister and the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, in remarks after the ruling. “No force in the world will stop them,” he said, adding that the court has proved itself “totally disconnected from our heritage and tradition and from our people.”
Mr. Lapid of Yesh Atid (Hebrew for There Is a Future), speaking after the decision was announced, said: “Today we started to turn the ship toward sanity and values. That’s why we are in politics.”
Mr. Netanyahu, he added, could not continue to wriggle out of making a decision. The draft, he said, is “for everyone, not just for suckers who don’t have a party in the coalition. We’re done being suckers. The court decided that we will not have first- and second-class citizens in Israel.”
The policy of open-ended deferment dates to 1949 when Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, exempted 400 religious students from military service in an effort to restore the tradition of yeshiva scholarship, which had been nearly destroyed during the Holocaust. The issue has since become tendentious, with the number of those who have been exempted by now amounting to tens of thousands.
Those who support wholesale deferment and exemption for Torah students in seminaries argue that Israel needs spiritual preservation as much as physical protection. Critics protest that the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority, known in Hebrew as Haredim, or those in awe of God, are not contributing enough to the country’s economy or security, leaving others to bear an unfair burden.
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector makes up about 10 percent of the population of more than 8.5 million but it is rapidly increasing, with its members typically marrying young and having large families. Worry and anger has been growing among many Israelis who fear that the economy will become unsustainable in the coming decades without radical change, in part because many ultra-Orthodox men prefer full time Torah study over work and rely on government stipends.
With the ultra-Orthodox parties often serving as coalition kingmakers and serving in most of the governments for more than three decades, they have accrued what many see as disproportionate power, privileges and subsidies.
Far from homogeneous, the Haredi world is made up of different rabbinical courts, and a small but growing number of strictly religious Jews have already been opting for military service or civilian national service as a way of acquiring skills and a path out of poverty and toward integration into the work force. The army has tried to accommodate Haredi recruits. It has even established ultra-Orthodox battalions, allowing those soldiers to combine military service with religious life.
But the more hard-core rabbis, who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah, have resisted change. Ultra-Orthodox soldiers have been harassed and abused in their neighborhoods and stormy street protests have erupted in cases where members of the community who did not qualify for an army exemption, perhaps because they were found to be not properly engaged in yeshiva study, have been detained for draft dodging. Religious women are exempted from army service because they adhere to strict rules of modesty. Israel’s Arab minority is also largely exempted.
Tuesday’s ruling was just the latest twist in a long political and legal saga. In 2012, the Supreme Court invalidated a law that had been in force for a decade regulating the exemption from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The law was supposed to encourage ultra-Orthodox enlistment without coercion, but it failed to achieve results and the court deemed it unconstitutional.
After the 2013 elections, Yesh Atid entered the coalition as the second-largest party after Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud. The ultra-Orthodox parties were excluded. Mr. Lapid advanced legislation to phase out wholesale exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, instituting annual quotas for the enlistment of yeshiva graduates and sanctions for those who evaded the draft. It was supposed to take effect at the end of this year.
But after the 2015 elections, Yesh Atid was out of the government and the ultra-Orthodox parties were back in. Under the new coalition agreements, the government amended the legislation, canceling the provisions for sanctions, delaying putting it into effect for years and watering it down in other ways that essentially neutralized it.
THE UNHEARD STORY: THE ULTRA-ORTHODOX WHO LEAVE EVERYTHING TO JOIN THE IDF
"Leaving the community is hard. It's a drastic step. All your life you're in black and white."
Jerusalem Post, EYTAN HALON’ December 11, 2017
While recent haredi protests against Israel's mandatory military draft have been hard to miss, there is a story within the ultra-Orthodox community that goes almost entirely unnoticed: the nearly 3,000 "lone soldiers" of haredi origin that currently serve in the IDF.
These young men and women leave behind everything and everyone they know in the haredi community, including family, in order to draft to the army and pursue a life of increased opportunity in the secular world.
The IDF defines lone soldiers as those with no family in Israel to support them. This includes new immigrants – the majority – but also orphans and individuals without family support.
Israeli soldiers of the Ultra-Orthodox brigade take part in a swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem.
"Leaving the community is hard. It's a drastic step. All your life you're in black and white," Shmuel Kaltian told The Jerusalem Post.
Severing ties with his family, Kaltian left his haredi home in the central Israeli town of Be'er Ya'acov when he was only 15-years-old. His uncle came to his assistance but, with almost no secular education behind him, life proved challenging.
"Acclimatizing to the secular world was particularly difficult. We didn't study the compulsory topics in the haredi world and I lacked necessary academic qualifications," said Kaltian.
Kaltian drafted to the IDF Artillery Corps, where he subsequently became a combat medic and was the recipient of an IDF award for excellence.
"Relations with my family have improved since my father passed away two years ago. Prior to that, there were no such relations," Kaltian added.
Nachi Pasikov grew up in a haredi neighborhood of Jerusalem and drafted to the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the IDF, an infantry unit established to accommodate haredi soldiers.
"I left home before I drafted. But once I drafted, there was no chance of returning," Pasikov told the Post.
"Initially, the army didn't recognize me as a lone soldier. It took several months. I rented a flat alone and I received a monthly wage of only NIS 400 ($110). Eventually I was recognized as a lone soldier," said Pasikov.
Formal recognition as a lone soldier by the IDF was a necessary step in receiving financial assistance and help with living costs.
"At the start of the process, relations with my family were far from good. I was almost entirely disconnected," Pasikov added. "Today, after a long process of four or five years, I'm in regular contact with my parents and siblings. I still don't go home too much, it's a different community and life there."
In addition to assistance granted by the IDF and Ministry of Defense, a number of organizations also work to help haredi lone soldiers like Kaltian and Pasikov, both during and after their military service.
"First of all, we need to explain to them what the army is. They do not come from families where their siblings or parents have been to the army, so they arrive without any prior knowledge," Tziki Aud, senior advisor at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin, told The Jerusalem Post.
"Nearly every one of them receives a mentor who was previously a lone soldier and who can assist them with their different, personal experiences," added Aud.
"We have an entire department dedicated to supporting these soldiers all over the country," said Aud.
"There's a difference between lone soldiers whose families live on the other side of the ocean and those whose families live 10 minutes away but refuse to talk to them," he told the Post.
Another organization, Out For Change, aims to minimize the difficulties experienced by soldiers and all those leaving the haredi community.
"Four years ago, the army recognized lone soldiers as only those with no contact with their parents," said Vice-President of Out For Change, Yossi Klar.
"After we applied pressure, the army subsequently changed the terminology to include those in touch, but not supported by, their parents."
"Most of our efforts are policy-based, but we do have a group for lone soldiers at our center in Jerusalem," Klar added.
Pasikov and Kaltian both emphasized to the Post that the difficulties of leaving the haredi community are not limited to the initial separation. Rather, they continue long after their military service is complete.
"You step outside and you don't know people. You meet secular people who grew up in an entirely different world. You don't know how to speak like them, how to dress, what's cool or not, societal norms," said Pasikov.
"The real difficulty is understanding that you need to reach the level of education that everyone else has already achieved. You only realize this towards the end of your army service. You don't have high school qualifications. Math, basic things that eight and nine-year-olds know, you don't understand."
"When I was 15, I never thought about what I would study," Pasikov added. "I thought about building a family, how many children I would have. You don't think about real life on the outside. Suddenly, you have to deal with all these questions."
"We have serious gaps in our education," said Kaltian. "In English and in lots of other subjects."
"There's nobody who will guide you," said Pasikov. "There are no parents or siblings that will discuss with you what to do in life. You need to catch up quickly because you want to start a degree, you want to progress."
Today, with the assistance of the Heseg Foundation for former lone soldiers, they are both pursuing undergraduate degrees. Pasikov is studying communications at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and Kaltian is studying electrical engineering at Beersheba University.
Both expressed their disapproval of the disruptive tactics used by ultra-Orthodox groups protesting against the draft.
"To protest and to stop the country, to use violence, that's not the way. And it's not the way of Judaism," Kaltian told the Post. "I'm not against them, I'm against what they do."
"The country needs to set up as many haredi battalions as possible. That's the solution. They can't oppose a system which fully accommodates them," he added. "There are all sorts of ways for haredim to draft, but it doesn't necessarily reach enough or the right people."
"The protests are led by a particularly extreme sect," Pasikov said. "On the one hand, you think, what is this trouble all about? On the other hand, you know that the state can't use force. It won't work. You can't persuade a fanatic to draft."
Pasikov believes Israeli society needs to better understand the difficulties of leaving the haredi community.
"The most important thing is Israeli society understanding and recognizing that whoever leaves the haredi community is entering into a new world, especially in terms of education," Pasikov said.
"They should be referred to the correct people and to the correct organizations that can offer much needed assistance."
WOMEN IN THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES
Wikipedia (Main article: Women in the Israel Defense Forces)
(This is included as it is a unique case study of the role of women from the entire population with a legal obligation to serve within a single organisation)
Israel is one of only a few nations that conscript women or deploy them in combat roles, although in practice, women can avoid conscription through a religious exemption and over a third of Israeli women do so.As of 2010, 88% of all roles in the IDF are open to female candidates. and women could be found in 69% of all IDF positions.
According to the IDF, 535 female Israeli soldiers were killed in combat operations in the period 1962–2016, and dozens before then. The IDF says that fewer than 4 percent of women are in combat positions. Rather, they are concentrated in "combat-support" positions which command a lower compensation and status than combat positions.
Civilian pilot and aeronautical engineer Alice Miller successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to take the Israeli Air Force pilot training exams, after being rejected on grounds of gender. Though president Ezer Weizman, a former IAF commander, told Miller that she would be better off staying home and darning socks, the court eventually ruled in 1996 that the IAF could not exclude qualified women from pilot training. Even though Miller would not pass the exams, the ruling was a watershed, opening doors for women in new IDF roles. Female legislators took advantage of the momentum to draft a bill allowing women to volunteer for any position, if they could qualify.
In 2000 the Equality amendment to the Military Service law stated that the right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.[ A study of women in the IDF from 2002 to 2005 found that women often exhibit "superior skills" in discipline, motivation and marksmanship. However, the study noted that women still face gender discrimination in the IDF. Women have served in the military since before the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Women started to enter combat support and light combat roles in a few areas, including the Artillery Corps, infantry units and armored divisions. A few platoons named Karakal were formed for men and women to serve together in light infantry. By 2000 Karakal became a full-fledged battalion, with a second mixed-gender battalion, Lions of the Jordan (אריות הירדן, Arayot Ha-Yarden) formed in 2015. Many women also joined the Border Police.
In June 2011 Maj. General Orna Barbivai became the first female major general in the IDF, replacing head of the directorate Maj. General Avi Zamir. Barbivai stated, "I am proud to be the first woman to become a major general and to be part of an organization in which equality is a central principle. Ninety percent of jobs in the IDF are open to women and I am sure that there are other women who will continue to break down barriers."
In 2013 the IDF announced they would, for the first time, allow a (MTF) transgender woman to serve in the army as a female soldier.
Elana Sztokman notes it would be "difficult to claim that women are equals in the IDF". "And tellingly, there is only one female general in the entire IDF," she adds.In 2012 religious soldiers claimed they were promised they would not have to listen to women sing or lecture, but IAF Chief Rabbi Moshe Raved resigned because male religious soldiers were being required to do so. In January 2015 three women IDF singers performed in one of the IDF's units. The performance was first disrupted by fifteen religious soldiers, who left in protest and then the Master Sergeant forced the women to end the performance because it was disturbing the religious soldiers. An IDF spokesperson announced an investigation of the incident: "We are aware of the incident and already began examining it. The exclusion of woman is not consistent with the values of the IDF." Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has also arranged for women to be excluded from recruitment centers catering to religious males. As the IDF recruits more religious soldiers, the rights of male religious soldiers and of women in the IDF come into conflict. Brig. Gen. Zeev Lehrer, who served on the chief of staff's panel of the integration of women, noted "There is a clear process of 'religionization' in the army, and the story of the women is a central piece of it. There are very strong pressures at work to halt the process of integrating women into the army, and they are coming from the direction of religion." Sex segregation is allowed in the IDF, which reached what it considers a "new milestone" in 2006, creating the first company of soldiers segregated in an all female unit, the Nachshol (Hebrew for "giant wave") Reconnaissance Company. "We are the only unit in the world made up entirely of female combat soldiers," said Nachshol Company Commander Cpt. Dana Ben-Ezra. "Our effectiveness and the dividends we earn are the factors by which we are measured, not our gender."
IDF AGAIN MISSES ULTRA-ORTHODOX DRAFT GOAL, GETS RECORD FEMALE COMBAT SOLDIERS
As this year's enlistment comes to a close, military reveals most trends holding steady, braces for manpower shortages in 2018
Times of Israel, JUDAH ARI GROSS 3 December 2017
Illustrative. Soldiers of the IDF's ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion study at the Peles Military Base, in the Northern Jordan Valley. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
The Israel Defense Forces this year again failed to reach the goal for ultra-Orthodox military enlistment set by the government, falling 20 percent short of the target. They made up for it with a record number of women joining combat units, an army official said Sunday.
“We didn’t fulfill our mission,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The government set a goal for the army of enlisting 3,200 ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, soldiers in 2017. “We enlisted 2,850,” said the official.
The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment has been a contentious one in Israel, with more-extreme members of the Haredi community carrying out weekly, and even daily, protests against the draft.
However, this past year, the military saw a record-high 2,700 women joining combat units. This represents nearly a fivefold increase since 2012, when 547 women served in combat roles.
Illustrative: Male and female combat soldiers of the Caracal Battalion train to fight an Islamic State assault on southern Israel in late March 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Another officer told reporters that the current level of female combat enlistment is expected to remain constant for the time being.
The official said the military also saw the trend of religious women enlisting in the army continue to increase. He did not, however, offer statistics to demonstrate that.
The army is preparing for a substantial drop in its total number of soldiers beginning in 2018, as a result of the recent reduction to male service time, from 36 to 32 months.
If a proposal to further reduce army service for men to 30 months goes forward — it has already been approved in the Knesset — that will cause another downturn in the mid-2020s, according to army forecasts.
However, the military is also expecting a significant increase in the number of draftees in 10 years’ time, bringing a separate set of challenges.
A significant percentage of soldiers in the 2017 draft dates expressed opposition to their military service, though the officer said there was little correlation to the actual drop-out rate.
“Forty percent of the people we sent to combat [units] don’t want to be combat [soldiers],” the official said.
In the past, the military used to report the motivation levels of incoming troops to serve in combat units, which were on a steady decline. The army will no longer release those figures, instead looking not at the soldiers’ statements, but at their actions, the official said.
In the past year, he said, the army saw a far lower dropout and refusal rates compared to 2016.
Yaakov Selavan, a former officer in the Armored Corps, speaks with a newly inducted soldier who was jailed after refusing to serve in the tank brigades, in the army’s Prison 6, on November 30, 2016. (Courtesy Yaakov Selavan)
Last year saw the shocking and curious case of a mass refusal to serve in the Armored Corps. In one week of November 2016, some 86 soldiers refused to join tank brigades.
There were no such cases of that level this year, he said.
“The buses are full, the number of refusals are low,” he said.
However, the interest in serving in the Armored Corps, as well as Combat Engineering, Artillery and Combat Intelligence, remains lackluster, due to the perception in Israel that service in those units is less glamorous than that of the combat infantry brigades, like the Paratroopers, Givati and Nahal, or in the Border Police, which operates extensively in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
According to the official, in every combat unit that accepts both men and women, save for one, the majority of the unit is female.
Illustrative. Male and female soldiers of the Bardelas Battalion preparing for urban warfare training on an early foggy morning, near Nitzanim in the Arava area of Southern Israel, on July 13, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The border defense battalions — Caracal, Lions of the Jordan Valley, Lavi and Bardelas (or Cheetah, in English) — as well as the Home Front Command’s search and rescue battalions, and the Artillery Corps’ mixed-gender units, are all approximately 60%-65% female. The one exception, the Border Police, is approximately 35% female.
Over the past few years, despite opposition from some leading Orthodox rabbis, the number of religious women going into the military has more than doubled, from 935 in 2010 to 2,159 in 2015.
A female IDF soldier uses her cell phone to take a selfie as ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a demonstration in Jerusalem against the conscription of members of the ultra-Orthodox community to the IDF on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
“If you ask me, it’s because women go home and tell other girls, ‘You can serve in the army and still stay religious,'” the official said.
Women are entitled to an exemption from military service if they declare themselves religious.
Interestingly, due to the relative ease with which people can pretend to be more devout than they are, the army employs soldiers whose job it is to locate such fibbers, scanning social media pages for posts on Shabbat or finding other apparent transgressions of Jewish law.
Speaking to the military’s failure to reach the goals for ultra-Orthodox enlistment, the official noted that the target was not set by the military, but by the government.
He noted that this year’s 2,850 ultra-Orthodox recruits represent a 15% increase over 2016, though the army also failed to hit the mark set for it by the government last year.
The official would not say if he thought the military would reach the levels required for 2018, but said that there would nevertheless be more ultra-Orthodox soldiers serving in the army next year.
“Do I expect an increase for the next year? Yes, without a doubt. For a simple reason: There’s a population increase. We’re opening more and more positions [for ultra-Orthodox soldiers]. We’re doing all we can to make things more accessible for Haredi soldiers,” he said.
Illustrative. Soldiers of the IDF’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion sit in a field at the Peles Military Base, in the Northern Jordan Valley. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
In September, the High Court of Justice struck down a 2015 amendment that helped keep ultra-Orthodox men from having to serve in the army.
Ultra-Orthodox seminary students have been largely exempt from Israel’s military draft since then-defense minister David Ben-Gurion exempted 400 students from service in 1949 on the grounds that “their studies are their craft.” Exceptional young artists and athletes are often granted exemptions by the Defense Ministry on the grounds that two or three years of military service could hold them back dramatically.
The Times of Israel, Lee Cahaner, JANUARY 7, 2018
Dr. Lee Cahaner is a researcher in the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program at the Israel Democracy Institute and the head of the department of interdisciplinary studies at Oranim College.
Are we witnessing a significant change in the status of women in ultra-Orthodox society? The answer is complex. Ultra-Orthodox women have a special status within ultra-Orthodox society. They are traditionally the main breadwinners, with a large proportion of the men study in seminaries and yeshivas. The discourse on the subject of gender fills many different issues and tensions in the lives of ultra-Orthodox women: for example, the tension between preserving their unique way of life and the many changes affecting the community at home and abroad; the tension between the communal structure and the traditional role of wife and mother; and the tension between the possibilities that the modern world offers ultra-Orthodox women and the many complex challenges facing them in contrast to their characteristic strength that characterizes ultra-Orthodox women.
The position of ultra-Orthodox women in between preservation and change is reflected in the data from the past decade. The 2017 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel of the Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Studies presents two parallel trends. On the one hand, ultra-Orthodox women marry at the young age of 21 (on average), have high fertility rates of almost seven children, and while also working, they run households under difficult economic conditions with 45% of the ultra-Orthodox community living below the poverty line. On the other hand, there are various perpetuating social mechanisms; some of these are reflected in the data, such as the low number of women who have a driving license (29% in contrast to 72% of their non-ultra-Orthodox counterparts), which results in the majority of ultra-Orthodox women using public transportation to commute to work; others lack quantitative data but remain key to preserving the ultra-Orthodox social discourse and its gender-based aspects , such as shidduchim and women’s roles in the family and in the community.
However, there is currently a whole series of processes promoting change: for example, more than half of ultra-Orthodox women now take matriculations exams compared to 30% less than a decade ago; more than two-thirds (72%) of ultra-Orthodox higher education students are women; and the percentage of ultra-Orthodox women who use the internet has almost doubled. Moreover, working ultra-Orthodox women are moving away from their traditional jobs, with, most significantly, a gradual decline (from 64% to 42% between 2001 and 2005) in the number working in education. This process of change is the result of a shortage of teaching jobs, but also the result of the establishment of an alternative training program in the ultra-Orthodox seminaries for girls that includes computers, economics, graphics, and other fields of study. This plan was the result of the initiative and combined efforts of third sector organizations, the government, and the ultra-Orthodox community itself.
And this is the key to the subtle change. In the coming years, it is reasonable to expect an increase in the average salary and the access of ultra-Orthodox women to resources that until a few years ago were considered to be only for men as well as a narrowing of the gap between them and non-ultra-Orthodox women in Israel. Against this backdrop, we must examine what is the right academic platform for the advancement of ultra-Orthodox women in their quest to acquire higher education and work in high quality and meaningful jobs while also preserving their way of life. What should the state do to adapt to these changes? It must update not only government policy toward the advancement of ultra-Orthodox women in the labor market and higher education but also invest resources in relevant tools such as academic tracks and adapted employment spaces. This adaptation to changing realities through cooperation between government ministries, the business sector, the third sector, and ultra-Orthodox women themselves will benefit us all on three levels: it will increase social cohesion, reduce social gaps, and improve the Israeli economy.
Denied slot in Haredi factions, trio announce 'Bezchutan' party for Knesset run; chairwoman had petitioned High Court against discriminatory lists
Times of Israel, MARISSA NEWMAN, 20 January 2015
Bezchutan party leader Ruth Colian
(photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
A trailblazing ultra-Orthodox female protest party, headed by a social activist, was unveiled on Monday and was set to run in the March 17 elections.
The party, named “Bezchutan” (In their merit), was launched in protest against the exclusively male ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. On the party list are activist Ruth Colian; Noah Erez, a clerk at the State Attorney’s Office; and Keren Mozen, a 21-year-old business student.
“After years of watching talented women be pushed aside, and not be appointed since they are women, we decided to stop watching from the sidelines. Our conscience won’t allow us to continue to remain silent, to go on with our lives as if this has nothing to do with us, and think that someone else will finish the job,” Colian said in a press conference on Monday, according to the Hebrew NRG website.
The party leader said that if the ultra-Orthodox parties agree to include female candidates on their lists, they will drop their campaign, Israel Radio reported.
It was not immediately clear when “Bezchutan” registered the party with the Knesset, as the deadline to add a new party passed several weeks ago.
Colian was previously loosely affiliated with the Shas party, but after she was turned down by the party to run in the municipal elections in 2013, she petitioned with the High Court — unsuccessfully — to cut funding to political parties that discriminate against women. She also sued the Shas party for distributing on a CD a song she wrote about the death of Shas spiritual leader Ovadiah Yosef without her permission. The 33-year-old mother of four was also a vocal proponent of animal rights, protesting the Tnuva dairy company after it was charged with mistreating cows, and appealing to Kashruth authority Shlomo Mahpud to pull the kashruth certification from companies that abuse animals.
The Bezchutan party is not linked to a campaign by Haredi women to boycott the elections if no female candidates are added to the ultra-Orthodox party lists. A statement from the “No Representation, No Vote” activists said it would continue to press the Haredi parties to incorporate female candidates.
No ultra-Orthodox female candidates have ever run on the Haredi parties’ lists, but Tzvia Greenfeld ran on the Meretz party list in 2008, becoming the first female ultra-Orthodox Knesset member.
Haredi Demography – the United States and the United Kingdom
Haredi Judaism - Wikipedia
The State Within a State of Israels ultra-Orthodox Jews Haaretz
Planned government oversight threatens hundreds of so-called charitable funds that function as the ultra-Orthodox community's financial lifeline.
What Happened to Israel’s ‘New Haredim’?
Integration of the ultra-Orthodox into modern Israeli society—jobs, schools, the IDF— has stalled, but experts say further progress is inevitable
What You Don’t Know About the Ultra-Orthodox
The least understood and most insular American Jews have much to teach us.
JACK WERTHEIMER / JULY 1, 2014
IN ISRAEL, JEWS ARE UNITED BY HOMELAND BUT DIVIDED INTO VERY DIFFERENT GROUPS
Pew Research Center, BY KELSEY JO STARR AND DAVID MASCI, March 8 2018
Nearly all Israeli Jews identify with one of four categories:
Haredi (commonly translated as “ultra-Orthodox”),
Masorti (“traditional”) or
(See also THE HASIDIC WORLD, below)
Haredim are the most religiously devout group in Israel, with 96% saying religion is very important in their lives, compared with 30% of all Israeli Jews. The word “Haredi” literally translates to “trembling” or “fearing God,” and most Haredim live their lives secluded from the rest of society. They have few close friends outside their own group, and they generally oppose intermarriage with other Jewish subgroups. Haredim tend to dress more conservatively, often including large black kippas and shtreimel or fedora hats for men and wigs or other head coverings for women. Haredi men are much more likely to attend religious educational institutions (yeshivas), which also has traditionally exempted them from the mandatory military requirements that other Israeli citizens face – something that has been a recent topic of controversy in Israeli politics. Fully 83% of Haredim favor keeping these exemptions, but less than half of all other Jewish subgroups agree. Haredim are more ambivalent about the state of Israel than other Jews in some ways, because some have long felt there should not have been the establishment of a formal Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah. For example, Haredim are far less likely than other Israeli Jews to identify as Zionists.
Datiim are nearly as religiously devout as the Haredim. About nine-in-ten of those surveyed from both groups say they are absolutely certain in their belief in God, and nearly all surveyed from either group say they do not travel by car, train or bus on the Sabbath, in accordance with Jewish law. However, Datiim – sometimes described as modern Orthodox Jews – are much more integrated in modern Jewish society. For instance, Datiim are more likely than Haredim to say they value career success and world travel. And Dati men are much more likely to serve in the Israeli military than Haredi men. Dati citizens also tend to be active in Israeli politics. A majority among Datiim describe themselves as part of the political right, and fully 71% agree that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, significantly more than any other Jewish group. They also are more likely than those in the other three groups to say building Jewish settlements in the West Bank helps Israel’s security.
Masortim are the most diverse of the four Jewish groups. They encompass a large middle ground between the two Orthodox groups and secular Jews. About half (51%) say religion is somewhat important in their lives, as opposed to very important (32%) or not too/not at all important (16%). While the three other Jewish groups often have strong opinions on one side or another on many issues relating to religion and public life, Masortim are generally much more divided. For example, while strong majorities of both Haredim and Datiim favor shutting down public transport during the Sabbath and over nine-in-ten Hilonim Jews oppose it, Masorti respondents are split on the issue (44% are in favor and 52% oppose). Masortim also are more likely to have Jewish friends from outside their group than the other three who, for the most part, socialize with members of their own community. According to surveys conducted over time, Masortim may be declining somewhat as a percentage of Israeli Jews.
Hilonim, who tend to be secular in their outlook, are by far the largest Jewish group in Israel, making up roughly half of Israeli Jews. Only 18% are absolutely certain in their belief in God, and 40% do not believe in God at all. Hilonim strongly favor the separation of religion from public life in Israel. For example, they overwhelmingly oppose shutting down public transportation during the Sabbath. Hilonim are the only Jewish group in Israel among whom a majority (59%) say their Israeli identity comes before their Jewish identity. At the same time, overwhelming shares of Hilonim say they are proud to be Jewish and believe a Jewish state is necessary for the survival of the Jewish people. Large majorities of Hilonim say they partake in Jewish rituals, but these include events that could be seen as cultural rather than religious, such as lighting Hanukkah candles or attending a Passover Seder. These views reflect the fact that 83% of Hilonim see being Jewish as a matter of ancestry and culture rather than as a matter of religion. Hilonim also overwhelmingly say all or most of their close friends are like them (secular), and they are also especially likely to marry within their own group.
Wikipedia Haredi Judaism (Hebrew: חֲרֵדִי Ḥaredi, IPA: [χaʁeˈdi]; also spelled Charedi, plural Haredim or Charedim) is a broad spectrum of groups within Orthodox Judaism, all characterized by a rejection of modern secular culture. Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox in English, although the term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered pejorative by many of its adherents. Haredim regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, although this claim is contested by other streams.
Haredi Judaism is a reaction to societal changes, including emancipation, enlightenment, the Haskalah movement derived from enlightenment, acculturation, secularization, religious reform in all its forms from mild to extreme, the rise of the Jewish national movements, etc. In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, which hastened to embrace modernity, the approach of the Haredim was to maintain a steadfast adherence both to Jewish Law and custom by segregating themselves from modern society. However, there are many Haredi communities in which getting a professional degree or establishing a business is encouraged, and contact exists between Haredi and non-Haredi Jews.
Haredi communities are primarily found in Israel, North America, and Western Europe. Their estimated global population currently numbers 1.5–1.8 million, and, due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, their numbers are growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted by a substantial number of secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle as part of the Baal teshuva movement.
ULTRA ORTHODOX/HAREDIM (HASIDIC, YESHIVISH/LITVISH) AND ORTHODOX:
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
THE HASIDIC WORLD, NOVEMBER 11, 2016
Hasidic Vs Orthodox. What’s the difference? Let me get right down to it: Hasidic Jews are a sect/movement within Orthodox Judaism. All Hasidic Jews are Orthodox, but not all Orthodox Jews are Hasidic. There are various sects within Orthodox Judaism and the Hasidic movement is only one of them.
If you are not very familiar with Orthodox Judaism, I will try to give a brief breakdown of the different sects (by the way, Orthodoxy is only one sect within Judaism as a whole). This is a bit of a simplification, but there are three major types of Orthodox Jews: Hasidic, Yeshivish/Litvish, and Modern Orthodox.
Let’s start with Hasidic. The Hasidic movement was founded in the 1700’s by the Baal Shem Tov. At that time, Orthodox Judaism had become an elitist movement that valued Torah learning and intellect. Those that were not Torah scholars often felt out of place and received little respect within the Orthodox world. The Baal Shem Tov tried to counteract that notion by emphasizing the value of each and every Jew, even those that had little time or ability to learn Torah. Instead, he emphasized fervent prayer, song, and the connection with a Rebbe (the leader of a Hasidic sect).
Today, Hasidic Jews are the strictest and most insular sect within Orthodox Judaism. They have many children, often learn Torah full-time, and live within very insular communities. Major Hasidic communities include Williamsburg and Monsey in the US, Antwerp in Belgium, and Jerusalem and Bnei Brak in Israel. Hasidic Jews have a very unique way of dressing. Almost all Hasidim wear long coats, black hats, and have side curls.
To make things even more complicated, within Hasidic Judaism there are many different sects, each with its unique style of dress and practices. Some of the major sects within Hasidic Judaism include Satmar, Chabad, Gur, Breslov, Toldos Aharon, and Belz.
Wikipedia Chabad, also known as Lubavitch, Habad and Chabad-Lubavitch (Hebrew: חב"ד), is an Orthodox Jewish, Hasidic movement. Chabad is today one of the world's best known Hasidic movements and is well known for its outreach. It is one of the largest Hasidic groups and Jewish religious organizations in the world.
Founded in 1775 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the name "Chabad" (חב״ד) is a Hebrew acronym for Chochmah, Binah, Da'at (חכמה, בינה, דעת): "Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge", which represent the intellectual underpinnings of the movement. The name "Lubavitch" is the Yiddish name for the originally Belorussian village Lyubavichi, now in Russia, where the movement's leaders lived for over 100 years.
In the 1930s, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, moved the center of the Chabad movement from Russia to Poland. After the outbreak of World War Two, the sixth Rebbe moved the center of the movement to the United States.
In 1951, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the seventh Chabad Rebbe. The seventh Rebbe transformed the movement into one of the largest and most widespread Jewish movements in the world today. Under Rabbi Menachem Mendel's leadership, the movement established a network of more than 3,600 institutions that provide religious, social and humanitarian needs in over 1,000 cities, spanning 100 countries and all 50 American states. Chabad institutions provide outreach to unaffiliated Jews and humanitarian aid, as well as religious, cultural and educational activities at Chabad-run community centers, synagogues, schools, camps, and soup kitchens.
The movement is thought to number between 40,000 and 200,000 adherents. In 2005 the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reported that up to one million Jews attend Chabad services at least once a year. In 2013, Chabad forecast that their Chanukah activities would reach up to 8,000,000 Jews in 80 countries worldwide.
Yeshivish/Litvish Jews are another very strict sect within Orthodox Judaism and like Hasidim, are also referred to as “Haredi” or “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews. The movement started in Eastern Europe as a reaction to Reform Judaism. The Rabbis that started the movement were “The Chasam Sofer” and “The Vilna Gaon.” Both were tremendous Torah Scholars.
Litvish Jews emphasize Torah learning more than anything and many learn full-time. Major centers of Litvish Judaism include Lakewood in New Jersey, Brooklyn in New York, and Jerusalem and Bnei Brak in Israel.
The picture above is of Litvish Jews in Jerusalem. Notice that the men are not wearing long coats and their hats have a completely different style than those worn by Hasidim.
MODERN ORTHODOX JEWS
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a sect within Orthodoxy that believes in combining Orthodox Judaism with the modern world. They believe in receiving both a Jewish and secular education. Most Modern Orthodox Jews have full-time jobs in the secular world and only learn Torah at nighttime or on weekends. In Israel, Modern Orthodox Jews serve in the Israeli army, unlike most Litvish or Hasidic Jews. (Editor’s Note: Many are members of Orthodox synagogues for ‘help with funeral arrangements’ and only attend services during Jewish festivals)
(A ‘yarmulke’ is a skullcap)