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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘IDF Draft’

Haredi Youth Conclude First Pre-IDF Course

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

96 youth from the Ultra-Orthodox community concluded last week the first ever pre-IDF course offered to the community members. The course, offered by the Ministry of Defense, was aimed at exposing the youth to the IDF and the special Haredi battalion and boosting the motivation of Ultra-Orthodox youth to enlist in the IDF.

Coming from Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Sefer and other Haredi communities, the participants experienced, during the week long course, a military like environment similar to basic training. Together with the forced marches and maneuvers, weapons training and Krav Maga, they heard lectures from rabbis and military officers and encountered the experiences of Ultra Orthodox soldiers who have enlisted before them.

All activities were tailored to meet the halachic requirements of the participants, including Glatt-Kosher Mehadrin kosher food.

Tsuriel Piltz, coordinator of activities at the Ministry of Defense for Haredi youth, explained that these unique preparatory days were conducted in a manner that respected the sensitivities of the participants, during which they learned that they can serve in the IDF in a meaningful fashion while fully maintaining their religious lifestyle. “The number of participants this year has given us much hope for upcoming inductions and the possibility of integrating Haredi youth into the IDF.”

Haredi Pre-IDF Course 2

The IDF has recently marked 15 years since the establishment of the Netzach Yehuda Battalion, the Ultra Orthodox battalion that enables Ultra-Orthodox Israelis to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant. The unit started off with only 89 soldiers; Over 800 joined up during 2013.

Amikam Savirsky, of the Ministry of Defense stated: “The IDF and Israeli society are currently in the midst of a gradual historical process in which the number of Haredi soldiers enlisting constantly grows. The Ministry will continue to encourage this process in various methods, preparing the youth for their induction into the army.”

Udi Dror, another Ministry of Defense official, added: “This program is another milestone in the endeavor to enlist Ultra Orthodox youth into tracks that will create new leaders. The contribution is twofold, to the IDF and the Israeli society and economy.”

Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim

Monday, March 10th, 2014

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.”

Social Engineering at the Agudah Convention

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

The bi-annual Midwest Agudah Convention was held in a Chicago suburb over the weekend. I was unfortunately unable to attend. But I have been told what some of the discussion was about. And it was no surprise to me that one of those subjects was about what is happening in Israel. I fully expected that to be the case.

One of the speakers who is a member of the Agudah Moetzes made the claim that the Israeli government’s attempt to draft Charedi Yeshiva students into the army and all the other things they are planning to do to is nothing more than a cynical attempt at social engineering.

I’ve heard it so many times: ‘Drafting Yeshiva students into the army has nothing to do with military need.’ This fact is used as proof that the government is out to destroy the Charedi world. Which Charedim define as the sum totality of Yiddishkeit. Everything else is secondary (B’Dieved) or ancillary. A world without Charedism is a world without Torah. This is why they call it a Shas Shmad.

What about Yeshivos Hesder or the various versions of Nachal Charedi? Not good enough. Those are all B’Dieved at best! The ideal of full time Torah study for everyone for as long as possible is the only thing that is recognized as God’s primary path for us.

I find it curious that they use the term social engineering in a pejorative manner. Because Charedim have been doing exactly that for the nearly seven decades since the Holocaust!

Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of a group of people into doing things they otherwise might not do. The Charedi world that I grew up in was very different than it is today. My formal religious education began in the mid 1950s in Detroit’s Yeshiva Beth Yehudah. This was an Agudah oriented Yeshiva led by pioneering educators sent by Torah VoDaath Rosh HaYeshiva, R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. Although the term Charedi was not in use then, this day school was clearly in that category.

But the Charedi world then looked nothing like it does now. There were no black hats then. The clothing worn by the students in both elementary and high school those days were not black pants and white shirts but the same as everyone else’s. The idea of full time Torah study was not pushed on everyone. It was reserved for the few who had the intelligence, drive, and desire to do it. Everyone else was expected to become a Frum Bal HaBos (layman) and support his family. Although Torah study was clearly advocated as a most important Mitzvah it was never promoted as the only Derech (path) for a Ben Torah to the exclusion of all else.

The community Kollel did not exist. Lakewood Yeshiva was in its infancy. And even its founder, R’ Aharon Kotler never expected it to become what it is today. All he wanted to do was recreate intact – the European model. Which consisted of an elite group of students that would dedicate themselves to full time Torah study.

What has happened since then can only be defined as social engineering. Somehow Lakewood became the model for every single student in every single Yeshiva in America. No one was forced to think this way. But psychological pressure has resulted in the world we live in today. A world that was socially engineered by Mechanchim who saw R’ Aharon Kotler’s Hashkafos of full time Torah study as the utmost fulfillment of the word of God – and implanted that idea into the brains of their students.

The Charedi metamorphosis in Israel was quite similar. But it had some additional baggage which made the their lifestyles even more married to this ideal. When the Chazon Ish and Ben Gurion agreed to exempt full time Yeshiva students, the numbers were indeed small representing the elite of elite in Charedi Israel. They numbered in the hundreds. There is also the fact that the Chazon Ish (with some justification) saw the draft destroying that small community of Torah students -thus destroying the very concept of full time Torah study. He felt (again with some justification) that the mindset of those early pioneers was to assimilate all factions of Jews into a prototypical Israeli – which did not necessarily include being observant. The Chazon Ish rightly believed that this agreement saved the system from extinction.

God’s Army

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

You might think the army is the single most effective tool for bringing everyone together in Israel. It is a brilliantly successful citizen’s army designed to protect the nation, an army of the people, by the people, for the people. After all, the struggle to survive is the most primordial of human motivations. Surely we can all agree that we need to ensure survival? But no, sadly, we cannot.

Many religious Israelis strongly believe that sitting and studying Torah all the time is the best possible defense against our enemies and that there is no need for an army because God will protect us.

Others believe there might be a need for an army, but let other people endure the hardships, risks and time, while they pursue a scholar’s life, regardless.

Some agree to a compromise; genuine scholars ought to be granted the privilege of devoting their lives to study but less motivated young men might do well to have some army training and enhanced prospects of getting a job.

And there are, of course, other completely committed religious Jews willingly serve, and they do remarkably well, too. Increasingly, the elite soldiers are coming from the religious nationalist sector of the community, committed ideologically to defending the land, the religion, and the ancient borders promised by the Bible.

Don’t think that secular Israelis are not just as divided.

Some are eager to join the army for its camaraderie and training that in some areas equips them to be captains of industry and internet entrepreneurs.

Many argue that the army is an important tool of education and socialization and the reason that Israel has done better than any other state in integrating such a huge proportion of new immigrants from such diverse languages, backgrounds, and cultures.

Others think it imposes a simplistic, false ideological sense of militarism that conflicts with their sense of morality.

Some refuse to serve because they prefer to spend their time on sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Some are cowards.

And some oppose occupation and object to settlements. They do not wish to serve in what they see as the armed wing of corrupt politicians or of governments whose political position they find offensive.

Some Israelis think it intolerable that all Charedi men do not serve in the army and play their part in defending their land.

Others think it’s a jolly good thing they don’t because we all know what happens when fanatics get hold of guns. And no army can allow its officers to be dictated to by rabbis. And it would affect the current role of women in the army. Besides, many of them are simply not army material.

Some argue that an elite voluntary force would be better than forcing people into conscription. Modern warfare needs fewer bodies in boots on the ground and more technical brain power. Others say that brain power is the key nowadays and Talmudic academies are well known for increasing brain power.

And we should not forget that there is a middle option of community service. After all, a similar divide over women serving in the first place was resolved by allowing Orthodox girls to serve in more protected and homogeneous groups.

In addition to the variety of opinions, misinformation and mistrust abounds. Many secular Israelis believe that no religious Jews serve in the army altogether. 30% currently do. Most religious Jews think all secular Jews are Godless atheists. Each side tells lies about the other, and each side’s press churns out half-truths and false rumors about the other. The more one side pushes back, the more aggressive the other gets.

This past week we have read about Charedi soldiers being attacked when they returned to their communities wearing army uniform instead of black hats. There was a story about Charedi protesting against other Charedi young men attending a military passing out parade. On the other hand, there are stories about secular commanders making life difficult for religious conscripts: refusing to address their religious concerns and victimizing them. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. This inter-community tension has always been a significant feature of Israeli life.

Whether one agrees with one side or the other, there is a genuine cultural conflict of values and attitudes. Secular Israelis have a value system closer to Hollywood than Jerusalem. Charedi youngsters are brought up segregated and protected enclaves. Their leadership fears that if they are suddenly throw then into a mixed secular environment only the strongest would be able to resist the seduction of a liberal society. But of course one could ask why are there so many brought up within the walls of the Charedi ghettos who still succumb to temptation even without going into the army.

Lapid Threat: On Haredi Draft It’s ‘Equal Burden’ or New Elections

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid warned on Monday that if the government wants to stay in power, it will have to approve a committee’s recommendation on “equal burden,” including criminal actions against draft dodgers.

“If anyone thinks I entered politics only to solve the economic disaster that the previous government left in behind, they are making a big mistake, said the finance minister.

Lapid is proving himself to be a smart politician. He has the secular anti-Haredi public’s vote in his pocket, no matter what. He can scream to the rafters over compromises on the “Peri Committee” recommendations for equal military service for citizens  - well, at least for Jews – and can still agree to a compromise.

His threat to “dissolve the coalition” is real, but neither he nor the anti-Haredi public will mind if a small compromise is made because they know that a political bird in the hand is worth two doubtful birds in the bush. The alternative is a new coalition – probably one with Haredim – or new elections. Both options are really non-starters.

His party took home 19 seats to catapult his fledgling party into the number two spot, behind Likud Beiteinu, on the strength of his demand for equal burden in the draft, a break for the middle class and concessions to the Palestinian Authority for the sake of a peace agreement.

In fact, he has taken positions four-square against the demands of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Lapid even has sounded like a mild nationalist, stating that Jerusalem cannot be divided and making the totally impractical suggestion that Abbas take a step back and agree for interim borders for a new PA state. He even has approved funding for Ariel University located in central Samaria.

Concessions to the Haredim on the military draft is his red line, as he made clear on Monday after Naftali Bennett, chairman  of the Jewish Home party, argued against the Peri panel’s recommendations for criminal charges against draft dodgers.

He said he “does not want to see a police battalion” storm Bnei Brak to arrests Haredim draft evaders.

As with most apparent political crises in Israel, the hot air is a warning to the other side not to try to throw too much cold water on an issue, which in this case is the draft. After all of the thunder and lightning, some kind of compromise will be reached, such as changing the tone of the clause requiring criminal action against draft dodgers in return for extending the military draft for Hesder yeshiva students.

All of the noise has another advantage. It drowns out any mention of the massive draft dodging among many secular Israelis, the ones who voted for Lapid.

The drum beats for dissolving the coalition and risking new elections also silences any reminder about any obligation for the Arab sector.

If Bennett does not want to see a police battalion deployed in Bnei Brak, Lapid would fall over himself before allowing a police battalion to enter Umm-al-Fahm, home of the northern branch of the radical Islamic Movement.

Likud Beiteinu Tourism Minister Uzi Landau asked on Sunday why the Peri Committee did not recommend forcing Israeli Arabs to fulfill a duty of national service.

One obvious reason is that while there is a political benefit from taking aim at the Haredi public, no one is going to switch political support for someone who makes demands of the Arab sector.

Besides, the police would not dare storm Umm-al-Fahm.

And Lapid knows that Bnei Brak would not be a piece of cake, either.

3000 Chareidim to be Drafted in August

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Reshet Bet reports that 3000 Chareidim who previously received deferrals for Torah learning, will receive their draft orders starting in August. This will be the first time that thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews are drafted into the IDF.

General Orna Barbibai, head of the IDF human resources division said that 25% of Israeli men and 50% of Israeli women (and not just Chareidim) are not drafted into the army.

She added that due to the increased needs of the IDF, there will be no shortening of the service time as had previously been considered.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/3000-chareidim-to-be-drafted-in-august/2013/01/03/

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