Monday, December 23, 2013


Ultra-Orthodox Service in Israel

I was having a conversation with a co-worker about the ultra-orthodox doing, or not doing, army service in Israel.  I pointed out a few statistics for which they responded in shock, worth sharing…

Government statistics say ~8,000 young ultra-orthodox men are eligible for service in Israel every year.  Their reports also tell us that 2,000 are doing service in Netzach Yehuda / Nachal Charedi, and a service announcement last week told us that 1,200 are in “national service” programs.  Another 500 are in Shachar long term army service programs.

2,000 + 1,200 + 500 = 46% of available young men providing service to their nation.  Since the national rate is 70%, the national argument in Israel is actually over 26% of the available young men not doing service due to religious and cultural reasons.

(BTW, of Arab Israeli citizens, less than 10% do army service and less than 20% do national service – but no one is complaining about their lack of commitment.)

But wait, my calculation has an error!  That’s 8,000 young ultra-orthodox men eligible every year.  Since the normal service period is 3 years, that 24,000 young men.

The new service law allows 1,800 ultra-orthodox young men to be excused from service for religious/moral studies per year.   So 5,400 are excused, plus our 2,000 in infantry, 500 in intelligence and hi-tech maintenance, and 1,200 in national service. 

5,400 + 2,000 + 1,200 + 500 = 38%

So in this calculation, we’re arguing over 32% of the religious young men.

Not 90% are avoiding service, not 75% are avoiding service.  Depending on how you look at it, either 26% or 32%.

And that changes the conversation significantly.  However, everyone wants to pretend we’re talking about 95% and have a culture war.

Politics and attacks on the “other”.  It’s never pleasant, and rarely involves any look at the truth or even statistics.

Hashem Yishmor.


  1. Why the term "ultra-orthodox"? Orthodox is bad enough. "It was not the 'Orthodox' Jews who introduced the word 'orthodoxy' into Jewish discussion. It was the modern 'progressive' Jews who first applied this name to 'old', 'backward' Jews as a derogatory term. This name was at first resented by 'old' Jews. And rightly so. 'Orthodox' Judaism does not know any varieties of Judaism. It conceives Judaism as one and indivisible. It does not know a Mosaic, prophetic and rabbinic Judaism, nor Orthodox and Liberal Judaism. It only knows Judaism and non-Judaism. It does not know Orthodox and Liberal Jews. It does indeed know conscientious and indifferent Jews, good Jews, bad Jews or baptized Jews; all, nevertheless, Jews with a mission which they cannot cast off. They are only distinguished accordingly as they fulfill or reject their mission. (Samson Raphael Hirsch, Religion Allied to Progress, in JMW. p. 198)[7]
    Thanks, Yisrael Tzion

  2. JPS
    2 Kings 1:9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him; and, behold, he sat on the top of the hill. And he spoke unto him: `O man of God, the king hath said: Come down.'

    1:10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty: 'If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty.' And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

    1:11 And again he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him: 'O man of God, thus hath the king said: Come down quickly.'

    1:12 And Elijah answered and said unto them: 'If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty.' And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.


    I'd leave the Men of ELoHIM to their task!

  3. Are you trying to confuse us with facts?!?!? Shame!

  4. Your math does not add up. You are mixing per year and cumulative numbers. We are actually talking about 75% avoiding the draft


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