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Nov 7, 2010

Support Haredi Education Of Leave Them In Kollel

On the one hand everyone wants the Haredim to join the workforce, on the other hand almost nobody is willing to take the steps to create programs that will allow and facilitate that.

We have seen in recent years the increase in the number of Haredim joining the workforce, and joining educational and vocational training programs to prepare for joining the workforce.

There is an inherent problem though with expecting Haredim to join the workforce. It goes against the social culture, and perhaps more importantly it is in actuality very difficult as many times the men looking to find work do not have qualifying skills to get a decent job, and they often are not in a financial situation to be able to afford acquiring the education needed to get those skills.

It is clear that whatever programs the government comes up with, they need to develop and [at least partially] subsidize such programs, and direct funding toward encouraging the avreichim who are prepared to leave kollel and join the workforce to actually do so.

Yet, when the government presents programs to do just that, the same people who protest the stipends that seemingly encourage the avreichim to stay in kollel, or at least dissuade them to a certain extent as to the necessity of leaving, are now protesting the governments plans to encourage them to join the workforce.

According to a Ynet report, the Ministry of Education has created a program that will fund, and thereby encourage, avreichim to join educational programs, with the goal being their joining the workforce. They designated 5 million shekels to the program, and the condition of the stipend that would be received by those joining the program is that the person in question conducts his studies at one of the certified institutions (of which there are currently two) that operate upon the separation of gender - men and women do not study together.

Such a condition is vital to ensure that the students receiving the stipend are haredim. The purpose of said stipend is to encourage haredim to study and eventually join the workforce. Most haredim who do so, join one of the haredi programs designed for this. It is unreasonable to expect that after a lifetime of living in one culture thy will suddenly throw the yokes of their society off and be willing to join universities like Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and others, where they will have the culture shock of dealing with mixed environments and study sessions.

Even if you and I think it is not such a big deal, and challenges are there to be overcome, that is not how it really works in this society. Ergo, they have to be encouraged without breaking too many of the rules of their own society. You force them to go to Hebrew U, and all rabbinical support for any of these programs will quickly be erased, and most of those considering joining will pull their applications. that is just the way it is.

So the government came up with such a program and is willing to throw money at it. Yet now the protests have changed saying the stipends are unequal. How can the government fund separate gender studies? The fact is they do so already by funding Talmud Torahs, Bais Yaakovs, even religious public schools, yeshivas, hesder yeshivas and kollels, but that is besides the point.

Even if it would be something completely new and even if it was unequal in this manner, sometimes it is the lesser of the evils and must be done. If they make the stipend equal, they might as well cancel the program, because nobody will sign up for it.

Affirmative action was not equality, but it was needed to give a boost to the African Americans who had been maligned until then. So even though it was unequal by promoting African Americans specifically, it was really the lesser of the equals, because without it there was no way the colored folk (as my Oma used to say) would have ever achieved the eventual equality (more or less) that they eventually have achieved.

You cannot protest that the avreichim are not joining the workforce and then knock down any plan to encourage them to do so. Sure, it might not be perfect, but it is better than anything else and should be encouraged, in addition to finding other, and perhaps better, solutions as well.


  1. Absolutely - I agree with you 100%

    It is important for the future of Israel that we find ways to integrate Charedim into the workforce and army (or National Service) without compromising their values.

    This means we have to provide environments with gender-separation, Mehadrin food, etc.

    There is no alterntive, as far as I can tell.

    Whether people outside the Charedi leadership think that learning in a separate-gender envionment is required, poreferable, or a negative idea is irrelevant.

  2. How about instead of getting the government to create programs and whatnot, get their schools to teach some things other than religion? Basic things like maths, science and history.

  3. Yasher Koach on a post which is well composed and makes the important point that programs to integrate Chareidim into the workforce have to practically implementable!

  4. anonymous - I agree that that is needed, but that is a solution for the future, not for avreichim now. In addition to that, they need to find solutions for avreichim who are right now willing to prepare to join the workforce.


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