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Feb 11, 2010

Is the State preventing Haredim from working?

At a conference for accountants by the Dead Sea, Moshe Gafni accused the State of not allowing haredim into the workforce. According to Gafni, the Haredi public has undergone dramatic changes and realizes they need to be a participating factor in the State of Israel, yet the State does not allow them to enter the workforce..

Does anybody have any idea in what way the State prevents anybody from working? How do they prevent Haredim from working/ Aside from being a bad economy and it is tough for anybody to find a decent job right now, how does the State prevent anybody from working, and how do they specifically target Haredim and stop them?

Does he mean the State has not given haredim a special tax break? I haven't heard of such a request, but if there was such a request and it has not been approved, they would still only be on equal footing as everybody else, and not targeted.

Is there a law haredim cannot work? I am not aware of one. And as Gafni himself says, more and more Haredim want to join the workforce, and as he only implies, more and more are doing so.

Is it because of the requirement to do army service? they are still only on equal footing with everyone else, but they (the majority of them) refuse to fulfill the requirement while others do.

Is it because of education, or lack of? Again, what does the State have to do with that? Is Gafni insisting people hire Haredim who are not educated and trained in the various fields of business, just because they are Haredim? When the State insists on adding curriculum to the general education, the Haredi politicians always refuse and get the haredi schools exempted? Does he expect the State to certify them as lawyers and doctors or accountants without getting the adequate education relevant to the field?

Is he talking about personal bias that maybe some employers have against hiring Haredim? What does this have to do with the State? Just like some people are biased against hiring Haredim, some people are biased against hiring fat people, others are biased against hiring women, others are biased against hiring anybody older than 25, etc.

Again, I don't see how Gafni differentiates the Haredim from anybody else in how they can or cannot be in the workforce, and how the State is at fault for it. Anybody who wants to go to work has the ability to apply for the relevant licenses and open a business, or submit his cv to employers in whatever field he wants and apply for jobs. I am not sure how the State prevents anybody from going o work, other than by giving them too much incentive (in the form of subsidies) to prefer to stay home and decide why bother working..


  1. Many Hareidim can't get work (legally) because, according to the law, they are evading conscription.
    The only acceptable exemption from the army is full time study in Yeshiva. Working is not considered a reason for exemption.

    So Haredim who do not want to serve in the army, but are willing to work, are caught in no-mans-land.

    The Tal Commission was tasked with sorting out the relationship between Hareidim, the Army and Workforce.

    The Tal Law was supposed to improve the situation, however, it's failed.

  2. David - true, but still the haredim are in no different situation than anyone else. if a secular guy wants to work instead of going to the army he also can't. The difference is the secular guy does what he is obligated to do and moves on with his life. The haredi guy doesnt move on and blames the govt.

    The haredi situation is no different than anyone else's. The govt is not preventing the haredim from working, they just have to fulfill the same obligations everyone else has to

  3. Rafi - since when have Chareidi politicians (and Askanim) allowed the facts to get in the way of a good arguement?

  4. I think the charedim see themselves as a distinct society that does not believe in army services -- even if there are those within the society who choose to serve. It would be similar to other subgroups in Israeli society who do not have a requirement to serve, such as Arabs. Arab Israelis can enter the workforce without being conscripted, and charedim think the State is discriminating against them since they are forced to serve.

  5. Where is your post demanding Israeli Arabs serve in the army.

    How about forcing secular Israelis who evade the draft like Bar Rafaeli into the army.

    The fact is the Israeli army doesn't even want religious zionists in the army which is why Barak is trying to shut down the hesder system.

    The real question is would Israel prefer the haredim working and dodging the army or on welfare or dodging the army. Allowing them to have an official exemption helps the entire country.

  6. I think you are all missing the point. Seculars do discriminate against hareidi workers. There is something about a guy turning up for an interview in a black hat and jacket, with tzitzis sticking out that just terrifies the seculars. Most of it is from plain old media bias, but it has to do with the fact that the seculars feel that they will have to be on their "best behaviour" with a "Rabbi" around the office. I've discussed this with many secular workmates. Luckily where I work, the management is religious which made things easier, but I know of one place where a neighbor went for interview and he was told he had the job if he changed to a knitted kippa and tucked his tzitzis in.

  7. mordechai - I dont demand anything of anybody. People do what is good for them. I dont demand haredim go to the army.
    However, the army in Israel is a law that everyone has to do. If someone is not learnign full time, or wants to go to work, he has to do the army.

    If you have a way out of it, more power to you. But to say the State doesnt want you to work just because you dont want to fulfil the same obligations everyone else has to fulfill is blaming the wrong people. My dati leumi neighbor also doesnt want to spend the best 3 years of his life in the army. he would like to go to school and get a jump start on his career. but he cant. He chooses to delay that and fulfill his obligations, rather than sitting around and blaming the State.

  8. mord: so the haredim and israeli arabs are equally safe and trustworthy to be in the army? Because the israeli arabs can't get out of service, they are not allowed to serve. Which is one of the reasons that israel they feel israel is undemocratic and racist, for not letting them serve. But here, you think the state is racist for demanding that haredim serve. At least the two groups are united in their view of the state and their trustworthiness.

    Shalom: I don't know many people who are on good behavior because harediim are around, except maybe other harediim. most jews I know and the literature and discussions show that harediim are no longer respected but instead have become the butt of the joke. And behavior like stealing dead bodies and protesting the arrest of the body snatcher is a good example of why most jews nowadays look down at harediim.

  9. Shalom: I think you are all missing the point. Seculars do discriminate against hareidi workers.

    Wasn't the "point" of the original piece that the *STATE* discriminates against Chareidim who want jobs?

    Shalom's description sounds more like a PR problem the Charedim need to address for themselves, no?

  10. The charedim are the blacks of Israel. The bagrut has sections that require zionist education (like full philosphy quiz on Hertzl) that the charedim simply aren't going to teach - therefore the bagrut isn't "full".

    Until Nachal Charedi, the army environment was in many ways actively anti-religious, going in was definitely a risk to the neshama. Though both the army and air force are now running special units for charedim, the change in the army's hashkafa hasn't really filtered into the community (it will after these soldiers are 10 years out of the IDF with better parnosa opportunities having taken them farther and still stayed just as religious or even improved from their experience.)

    Many professional or civil service positions require specific certifications which previously (and some still are) taught only in mixed situations in Tel Aviv. (Organizations like the Charedi Institute for Technological Studies are changing this.)

    And yes, when I walk into offices in Tel Aviv with a long beard, big black kippah, and tzitzit, it get's a lot of pause and sometimes automatic discounting of my abilities - just like a black job candidate 20 years ago in the US...not obvious discrimination but just an clear but unconscious discomfort on the part of the manager.

    (I even had a managers-insurance agent ask me "what are you doing here?", me "working?", him "but, umm, you people don't work", me "clearly I'm here working and feeding my family just like you.")

    What's MK Gafni saying? While the direct organs of anti-charedi discrimination have been reduced or eliminated, the feelings haven't and the opportunities haven't been opened. Some affirmative action for a generation (time limited and/or result limited - when it reaches it's goals or after a certain time it's done) is required.

  11. ...the change ...hasn't really filtered into the community (it will after these soldiers are 10 years out of the IDF with better parnosa opportunities having taken them farther and still stayed just as religious ....
    Some [time-limited] affirmative action ... is required.

    Wow Akiva thank you that's very insightful.

    I don't know how to get around the zionist philosophy problem; Arabs are at the same disadvantage, also by choice.

    But Israel should be a place that can offer a modified environment for courses.

    Affirmative action? Look where it got the blacks in the US.

    Better to have privately funded programs that push the Charedim who *want* to be in the workforce, and perhaps have more potential to get and succeed there, and support them as they meet resistance.

    Then we will get the trickle-down effect you mention at the start, with both chilonim and Charedim knowing that jobs are earned by merit and not entitlement (which is not a problem with many individual Charedim, but is a communal philosophy).

  12. ironic - just last night I read an article from this past weeks Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew). They put together a panel of the "top 5" leading haredi lawyers in Israel and discussed many issues.

    One of the points that kept coming up is whether they feel they are treated differently because they are haredi.

    Near the end of the article, the question is answered definitively by one of the lawyers and they all agree for the most part.

    The lawyer said that they might have been considered an attraction a long time ago when there were very few haredi lawyers, but no longer. At other points in the article they say that the only time they feel they are treated with curiosity is the first few minutes of a case. After the first few minutes they are no longer looked at differently and are judged by the content fo their arguments and claims.

    They basically agreed that they are pretty much accepted everywhere just like anybody else, and treated no differently. When they are treated differently it is usually with more respect.


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