web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim

Sexist and often violent, corrupt and even anti-Zionist Haredim in Beit Shemesh capture an unfair image of the city.
Haredi women work at Concept Creative Technology, a subsidiary of Beit Shemesh-based NetSource.

Haredi women work at Concept Creative Technology, a subsidiary of Beit Shemesh-based NetSource.
Photo Credit: Barry A. Kaplan

Amid the buzz surrounding issues of religious-secular tension—such as proposed Israeli legislation to mandate Haredi enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and a recent rally where hundreds of thousands of people protested the bill—Haredi entrepreneurship in the Jewish state doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Critics lament the lack of Haredi integration into both the military and the Israeli workforce, but  Beit Shemesh, located 20 miles west of Jerusalem with a population of 100,000 people, is home to innovators like Rabbi Joel Padowitz, whose ventures have a direct relationship with the Haredi community.

Padowitz, 36, is co-creator of what he believes is a “game-changing” product for Israeli tourism and business called the “Israel App.” Originally from San Diego, Padowitz made aliyah in 2009 and lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children. He teaches Mishnah every day at a men’s kollel in Beit Shemesh, is an avid mountain biker, and is the founder of a Manhattan-based investment bank. He has rabbinical ordination and an MBA from Bar-Ilan University, and he now is now pursuing a BA in social science from Harvard University.

The co-founder and manager of the Israel App is equally eclectic 28-year-old Yaakov Lehman, formerly from Tucson, Ariz., who is married with a newborn child. A part-time rabbinic student and part-time social entrepreneur, he has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in global studies, an MA from the London School of Economics in economic history, and an MA from the University of Vienna in world history. He came to Israel in 2008.

“The reason I founded the Israel App is because people come to Israel and do not get a legitimate or even meaningful presentation of this incredible country,” Padowitz tells JNS.org. “We cater to the majority of tourists who don’t hire human tour guides. We want to give them a way to appreciate more deeply all that Israel has to offer.”

The Israel App, which currently has about 6,000 users, contains GPS-guided tours for any tourist who needs to find sites or hotels or restaurants, a virtual concierge for making reservations, coupons, and background content like an “Israepedia,” a glossary covering a wide variety of historical information. Tourists can use the app without roaming charges as they travel around the country.

When Padowitz and Lehman initiated their project, they began looking for a programming team. They happened upon NetSource and its subsidiary, Concept Creative Technology, a service provider of software development. “We liked the service, the price, and their work environment,” says Lehman.

NetSource’s 48-year-old CEO, Mazal Shirem, is a divorced mother of three who grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, where she lived until the age of 20. After 16 years with Intel and a stint in Munich, Germany, she found a business partner for her new venture whose mission “was to get Orthodox people into the employment market and give them the tools they need to learn the work environment.”

NetSource was launched in 2010 and today employs 200 people—90 percent Haredi women and 5 percent Haredi men—almost all living in Beit Shemesh. According to Shirem, the company operates so that the employees “receive the full respect of their lifestyle, including the on-site kosher kitchen, flexible work hours, and even proper subjects on which they work.”

Tamar, a 26-year-old Haredi mother of a two toddlers, is consulting with Shirem in her office. She started work there a year and a half ago as a secretary and worked her way up to an account manager.

“I really like to work here,” she says. “The girls are very nice and it’s convenient for me to work in this company because I find all the conditions which I need in order for me to go out and do my job in an appropriate environment.”

About the Author: www.JNS.org is an independent, non-profit business resource and wire service covering Jewish news and Israel news for Jewish media throughout the English-speaking world.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim”

  1. Saul Yarmak says:

    Positive direction

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
PA/PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addresses Central Committee convention in Ramallah.
PLO Votes for Suicide by Voting to Cut Security Ties with Israel
Latest News Stories
PA/PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addresses Central Committee convention in Ramallah.

The decision could lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

A snow storm with freezing rain struck the New York area, turning the roads and runways into skating rinks.

A plane crash and snow storm all but paralyzed LaGuardia International Airport in New York on Thursday; one runway opened the airport by evening.

Actor Harrison Ford is in fair condition after crash-landing a private plane on a golf course in Venice, CA, Thursday afternoon.

A ZAKA team in action.

An abandoned Jewish soldier who died for Ukraine was rescued and given a proper Jewish burial by ZAKA. Their story.

The race for nuclear power has begun in the Middle East in response to fears of an Iranian nuclear threat.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Megillah reading, which tells the story of the Jewish festival of Purim, inside the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem on March 05, 2015. The festival of Purim commemorates the rescue of Jews from genocide in ancient Persia.

A hitchhiker pulled out a gun and stopped the attack.

Israel was the sixth-highest source for tourists to Germany in 2014.

Eshed said that a smart meter can run for as long as 10 years if it is equipped with this chipset.

US Amb to South Korea attacked at event in Seoul, slashed face and hand.

On Saturday, the French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday, citing intelligence sources, that Khamenei would likely live only two more years.

COGAT chief hopes Hamas “would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses.”

Israel’s Channel 2 television network thought Herzog’s remarks constituted elections propaganda.

The house, which is made up of simple mortar and stone walls that was cut into a rocky hillside, was first discovered in the 1880s by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent.

Ron Dermer responds to Netanyahu critics following Netanyahu’s speech.

Secy of State John Kerry updates media on the progress made in talks with Iran in Switzerland before leaving for the US; talks resume on March 15.

More Articles from JNS News Service
Israeli Flags in Germany

Israel was the sixth-highest source for tourists to Germany in 2014.

Eshed said that a smart meter can run for as long as 10 years if it is equipped with this chipset.

COGAT chief hopes Hamas “would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses.”

Israel’s Channel 2 television network thought Herzog’s remarks constituted elections propaganda.

The Jewish welfare organization Colel Chabad this week hosted a Bat Mitzvah celebration  in Jerusalem for 36 girls who have lost a parent. Most of the parents died from illness or terror attacks, and one Bat Mitzvah girl’s father was the first Israel Defense Forces casualty during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas. “Family […]

The Israel-based Dan David Foundation has awarded this year’s Dan David Prize for scientific, technological, and cultural accomplishments to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, among other prominent honorees. The three annual $1 million prizes are administered by Tel Aviv University and named for late philanthropist Dan David. In the past, it has been awarded to former […]

It’s a safe bet to say that the overwhelming number of American football fans in Israel cheered on the Patriots.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/americans-in-beit-shemesh-present-the-better-side-of-haredim/2014/03/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: