Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Social Fear?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(Maskil) On the one hand, the Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Judaism ... has become increasingly divorced from mainstream Israeli society, while at the same time its massively subsidized demographic growth continues at the expense of the host population. The Haredi sector is distinguished by its lack of participation in the workforce, its refusal to perform military service, its separate, mind-numbingly backward educational networks, disproportionately small contribution to the tax base and excessive draws on the welfare system. This massive shift of the private burden onto the public system, coupled with an ideological emphasis on large family sizes will eventually transform Israel. Perhaps into a state based on Halacha... In the interim, Israeli society will be crippled internally and far less able to resist the external forces arrayed against her. It has in effect hijacked Israel’s domestic policy.

Most people superficially examine Israeli's social problems and fall into these standard secular canards. However, lets examine these a little more closely...

-- the Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Judaism ... has become increasingly divorced from mainstream Israeli society.

The ultra-orthodox have been under cultural attack by secular Israel since it's founding. It got so bad in the 50's that secular Israel literally implemented a formal program to strip Judaism by ripping new immigrant children from Yemen from their parents and forcing them into secular schools. Ultra-orthodox society has build walls and become intensely suspicious of secular society FOR GOOD REASON. Israeli secular society has had a goal of creating the "new Jew", strong with strength of his own arms and no ancient Jewish stuff holding him down - a goal antithetical to Judaism.

-- massively subsidized demographic growth continues at the expense of the host population.

Israel pays approximatey $300 per month for religious studies (after high school). Large families (5 or more children) get a stipend of around $500 per month. That's $900 per month to food, rent, utilities, clothes, etc, for a family of 7 or more. Guess what, no one is living on that. Whether as a society we support each other, those with resources support those with less, or lots of less apparent economic activity is going on (or all the above), $900 per month is NOT 'living off the host population'.

-- The Haredi sector is distinguished by its lack of participation in the workforce.

Strangely, one finds this is only an Israeli thing, not a Jewish religious thing. In the US, you find ultra-orthodox doctors, accountants, politicians, business owners, etc. Turns out Israeli society has created specific barriers that prevent the ultra-orthodox from achieving the credentials without compromising their religious standards. Such barriers DO NOT exist in the US.

-- its refusal to perform military service

The IDF _could_ have created religious units designed to accommodate the needs of the ultra-orthodox 60 years ago. They didn't create such units until 4 years ago. So far, the ultra-orthodox units are being wildly successful. However, after 4 generations of "avoid the army that will culturally destroy you" it will take time for the public to adjust to the new option.

-- its separate, mind-numbingly backward educational networks

Classically written by someone who's never visited an ultra-orthodox school. Practically, the Israeli secular school system is in bad shape, with graduation rates under 56%, high rates of drugs and violence. Ultra-orthodox graduation rates are MUCH higher, violence MUCH lower, drugs almost non-existent, and they are only funded at 60% the rate of the secular schools!!! Yet indeed, they refuse to include topics required for the Israeli graduate diploma (the bagrut), such as the history of zionism or classic greek literature. Because the diploma system _requires_ subjects which are arbitrary but unacceptable to the ultra-othodox community, they refuse it and therefore don't qualify for the state diploma (with the attendant problem of not qualifying for professional track careers!).

Note this is NOT a problem in such ultra-orthodox systems located in ANY OTHER Western country. The Israeli diploma is designed to include topics unacceptable to the ultra-religious, a barrier to entry into the system.

-- small contribution to the tax base and excessive draws on the welfare system.

As mentioned above, barriers to entry to good career paths prevent most of the ultra-orthodox from having high tax possibility careers. However, being the community continues to survive - and the Israeli welfare system is a joke (no one can live off it) - clearly they're either supporting themselves or bringing in donations from outside Israel to do so. That money doesn't disappear but rotates through the economy. It may not be income taxed, but it sure is sales taxed.

It's worth noting 6 years ago the secular system cut national child payments by 50%. Ultra-orthodox communities did not collapse. 4 years ago the secular system cut religious studies payments by 50%. The ultra-orthodox did not collapse. Methinks that's clear proof State support is much less significant that many ASSUME.

American society in the 60's took a difficult but ultimately society saving step. They declared the under-class equal, and creating ways of promoting the under-class into opportunities even though they weren't qualified according to the standards of the time. Affirmative Action broke the cycle of barriers, some intentional and some unintentional, that locked the under-class into their situation.

Rather than sneering at the ultra-orthodox, who serve as the primary Israeli underclass, people should accept them as equals and consider how to promote them into effective members of society. There is a REASON there are no ultra-orthodox policemen, government officials, or professionals. Serious barriers are in place to make sure they cannot enter the system. Yes, some are self imposed, but many are externally imposed.

And with the growth of this underclass, action to provide them a future must happen SOON.


  1. Are you proposing that the Hareidim experience: "barriers to entry to good career paths prevent most of the ultra-orthodox from having high tax possibility careers" BECAUSE OF EDUCATION and INSULARITY?

    Are you also proposing that Israel adopt the "60's equality for the under=class? (i.e. emancipation?)

    How can you emancipate a people that don't understand what that means? In America, the 'under-class' were hyperventilating for emancipation.

    The old-time Israelis didn't have any animosity toward the ultra religious (as I understand it), but somewhere along the line the 'ultras' antagonized and the 'leftist elements' developed venomous behaviour. I think we still have a similar division, but the divide has gotten wider and more hateful.

    Emancipation in America helped alot of people, but the troublemakers saw this as an oppotunity to GET EVEN, and we are feeling this now.

  2. A nest with two eggs. Both hatched at the same time, but one bird was a little smaller than the other. Which of two eventually fell victim to fratricide? The assimilated want a secular utopia and the observant don't. Will history repeat itself? Is it wise to put all of one's eggs into a single basket?

  3. Neshama,

    Absolutely wrong. They took and forced children of immigrants into secular schools. The army PREVENTED observance of Shabbos, wearing of tzitzit and putting on of tefillin. They attempted to open restaurants and theatre's in the middle of religious neighborhoods.

    They tried to prevent religious schools from opening, and then undermine them by forcing in not basic curriculum but philosophical curriculum.

    Secular Israeli society, the New Jew Zionists, as been trying to encourage the "old backward religious Jew" to die off since the beginning of the State.

    Not all the country, not all the people, just the power-elite leadership setting the tone.

    Now, 4 generations later New Jew Zionist philosophy has died off. But the cultural offenses and the cultural defenses put in place by both sides have not.

    The good news is there are attempts, on both sides, to move forward. The bad news is there is much inertia in place.

  4. A very relevant tweet from this morning...

    KolYisroel - Number of Charedim (ultra-orthodox) joining Nachal Hacharedi (the new IDF ultra-orthodox battalion created 5 years ago) is growing so fast the IDF is planning another ultra-orthodox division and is now creating an ultra-orthodox reserve division.

    --So I ask, why wasn't an ultra-orthodox accommodating division created 20 years ago??? Regardless, it's a good thing now. Report doesn't note a report that the IDF Air Force started an OLDER-men ultra-orthodox recruiting program last year and is THRILLED with the lowest turn over and highest request-for-officer training rate ever. (Older means they are recruiting 25 year old married ultra-orthodox men.)

  5. Akiva,
    You reacted to my “old time Israelis” as being the “cold hearted leftists from 48”. That is not what I am referring to. As I view Israel, there are (not exact, as I don’t know the statistics):

    10% Ultras
    10% Cold-hearted Leftists (incl media)
    80% Others, from very observant (Orthodox) to slightly observant (Rosh Hashana-YomKippur Jews).

    The gamut inbetween varies greatly.

    The two 10%-ers are very venomous toward each other, extremists in their ‘own’ outlook, and not at all the peacemakers, they refuse to let-go of old hatreds, and this is impeding the geula. Both sides have to give (not give up halacha) and stretch and open the mind a little. This is the group that need emancipation!!

    BTW I think the Ultras will have egg on their faces when IY”H the court case finishes. Most people don’t understand ‘why’ and react strongly about child abuse; there have been many cases, but not all of them get the ultra-treatment!

    If I may, I sense a conflict of sorts in your writing seems reflective of the “reality of aliya” stage, reflecting a clash of dichotomies between ‘moving to a Jewish Homeland’ and actually ‘living in the Homeland’.

    One must struggle against the Satan fiercely in the area of bitachon and emuna. The way the satan attacks a person after he/she performs a mitzva (with doubt) is the same as the attack on the Jewish Neshoma when it returns to its Biblical Homeland, only stronger and more fiercely, because it’s a greater mitzva.

    A very nice person sent this (timely) to me:
    וחזרו ובאו למקומם אמרו ישיבת א"י שקולה כנגד כל המצות שהתורה

    תוספתא מסכת עבודה זרה פרק ה
    ישרה אדם בארץ ישראל אפילו בעיר שרובה עובדי כוכבים ולא בחו"ל אפי' בעיר שכולה ישראל מלמד שישיבת ארץ ישראל שקולה כנגד כל מצות שבתורה

    291. Rabbi Shimon was cleansing the marketplaces of Tiberias. He
    dug out all the dead that were there, and cleansed the land. We have
    learned that it is written, "But when you entered, you defiled My
    land" (Yirmeyah 2:7). Rabbi Yehuda said: Fortunate is the portion of
    he who deserves during his lifetime to make his dwelling in the Holy
    Land. All who merit it will cause the dew of the heaven above to
    continue to descend upon the earth, so all who deserve the Holy
    Land in this lifetime will later deserve the higher Holy Land,

    זוהר חלק ג דף עב/ב
    רבי שמעון הוה מדכי טורי (ס"א שוקי) דטבריא, וכל דהוה תמן מית הוה סליק ליה, ומדכי ארעא
    תאנא, כתיב (ירמיה ב ז) ותבואו ותטמאו את ארצי וגו', אמר רבי יהודה, זכאה חולקיה מאן דזכי בחייוי למשרי מדורא בארעא קדישא, דכל מאן דזכי לה, זכי לאנגדא מטלא דשמיא דלעילא דנחית על ארעא, וכל מאן דזכי לאתקשרא בחייוי בהאי ארעא קדישא, זכי לאתקשרא לבתר בארעא קדישא עלאה

  6. " Large families (5 or more children) get a stipend of around $500 per month"

    WHOA!! I live here, and have 5 children. Please explain how to get $500 per month. I assume you mean bituach leumi, of which I get $200 per month.

    Aside from this, maybe all the secular people can kollel bashers can take a look at other countries - US or England - how much does each family get there?

    Where is the thanks that the chareidim should get for bringing in MILLIONS of dollars in foreign donations per MONTH. Thats right. Month. Mir. Ponevezh. Sorotzkin. Yeshivas HaRan. Brisk. These Yeshivos are not funded totaly from the government or tuition. Certainly Kollel stipends need to be paid. All that money pumped into the Israeli Economy

  7. "-- The Haredi sector is distinguished by its lack of participation in the workforce"

    This doesnt even warrant a response, as its NOT true.

    Well, it is "distinguished" in this way - but its not based on facts.

  8. I agree, Akiva. The government ought to be commissioning various studies, based on lots of interviews and statistics, figuring out the extent to which the Haredim are and aren't integrated into Israeli society, and then work with the Haredim on figuring out appropriate ways to encourage them to participate more in the Army (or other national service) and the workforce.

    But isn't it true that the Haredim have already started working more than they have in the past?

    Regardless, it shouldn't necessarily be our goal that lots of Haredim are accountants or lawyers, since there are so many ways to make a living, and it's up to individuals and communities to figure out what career paths are most attractive to them and appropriate for the beliefs and lifestyle. For example, I would assume that for many people the less time in secular universities, the better, so things that require no university education (like many small businesses and trades) or just bachelor's degrees (like engineering) might be preferable to things involving long periods at university. On the other hand, there's no reason why you can't spend lots of time in grad school if that's what you want to do -- American Breslover Rabbi Avraham Bloomenstiel, for example, is an impressive Haredi rabbi who also, I believe, has graduate degrees in musicology and music theory!

  9. You raise several good points, but I think that your argument about the haredi Education system is misleading.

    To the Best of my Knowledge, almost all Haredi Yeshivot (High SChool age) in this country have no secular studies at all.
    The problem isn't that they don't teach History of Zionism or Classical Greek (which I don't think is common anywhere), rather that they don't teach subjects like English, Science, and Math which a pretty much required to get into the workforce.

    This is NOT the case in Chutz L'Aretz where (except for parts of the Hassidic community), most Yeshivot include at least basic math, science, and English as required by State Law.

    This leads to a higher participation in the work force, a higher standard of living, and less reliance on social welfare.

  10. Nahal Haredi - please review your stats. The unit is growing but the percentage of Haredim is dropping, instead replaced by Hardalim or other hesder 'dropouts'.

    I agree with you on the other things. One thing the secular media never seems to reveal is if all Haredim are such a burden on Israeli society, where does the money come to buy so many homes?

  11. secular zionism led by hertzyl is a secular jewish messiah no Torah just nationhood , thats what the satmar rebbe despized . I believe the jewish people despite nationhood are a sick people nebek all the tochacha of the prophets is true .

  12. There are Hareidim that are integrated into society, there are many many religious girls/women who learn, and I agree with Michael S that the boys (who are not gemara kups) need to be brought up to par and taught math, (some) science (chem. med, nursing, sociology) to be able to contribute to society. They can have an AM seder and a PM seder in gemara/shas/etc.

    The Satmar Rebbe taught his chassidim to be self-sufficient, to go into business, not to depend on others. That's the ethic the ultras need to adopt. Not courses on stone-throwing, trash-burning, and 'insulting-language' courses.

    AND I agree wholeheartedly about the horrible treatment the religious were subjected to in those early days, and even thebut 60 YEARS have run under the bridge.

    One EARNS respect, one does not demand respect.
    The leftists and the media are an Israeli problem that definitely need to be solved. But I don't believe that Jews should be hurting/fighting Jews!

    Listen to Bibi here: http://wejew.com/media/5625/Prime_Minister_Netanyahu_Welcomes_Olim/

    Israel is our physical Liferaft and we MUST GET ALONG! And Hashem is our spiritual liferaft!

  13. I'm sorry but,
    Where is the hakoras hatov for building a nation in 60 years, with delicious gorgeous fruits and veggies, blue skies most of the year, clean clean stones underfoot at the Kotel, flowers galore, wide open spaces, pages out of biblical times to visit and antique sages to visit and pray near their resting places, rain that is sweet to drink, and the cherry on the top: Hashem watching over you 365/7. Where is it?

  14. Boker Tov.
    Neshama, I especially felt your words in the next-to-last post regarding the Satmar Rebbe. Such is the concept outlined in Pirke Avos
    2:2 Rabban Gamliel the son of Yehudah Ha Nasi said "Admirable is study of Torah with an occupation," and "All Torah study that does not have accompanying it labor will in the end cease and will bring sin."
    Such does not mean that tzedekkim must cease being tzedekkim. It means it is to be as of the days of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Akiva...they followed trades and taught beneath the shade of the trees during midday, or in the cool fields of grasses before ma'ariv, as the sun was setting.
    To share in one another's daily enterprises...as these great men I so admire...shoulder to shoulder with disciples, with Am Yisrael. Teaching, and showing that humans could teach and labor, learning together. Being close to one another, to the land, as G-D intended it.
    Such a concept we should tell others of; then, others must see us live by example. Each individual must accept the truth and speak the truth to others and in his own heart. For all of us must help one another.
    In no way do I detract from what the Hasidim do; may my suggestion complement their studies and well-round them in the manner that our Fathers taught and intended. Indeed, those residents of the Mea Shearim fought as valiantly as the IDF for Yerushalayim.
    We must remember Sukkhot: the four species. Let us not just wave them for one week, but each day: having compassion on all of our people, regardless of their levels of observance.
    Also, please pray for my wife; her surgery is in another three weeks, Baruch HaShem.
    Shalom, v'ahavat,
    Yeshayahu Galluzzo

  15. We all make mistakes and need to improve. But we are still fellow Jews. I think what people should do is bring the secular and religious together through learning, so we can unite and continue our legacy
    People don't understand that Torah is what protects us. Besides physical protection, we also need spiritual protection. The spiritual energy from Torah helps the economy is, brings rain, protects the land, etc.


Welcome to Mystical Paths comments. Have your say here, but please keep the tone reasonably civil and avoid lashon hara. Due to past commenting problems, all comments are moderated (this may take a few hours.)

Your comments are governed by our Terms of Use, Privacy, and Comments policies. We reserve the right to delete or edit your comments for any reason, or use them in a future article. That said, YOU are responsible for YOUR comments - not us.

Related Posts with Thumbnails