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{Originally posted to author’s blog, Emes Ve-Emunah}

One of the most important achievements of the last Keneset in Israel is that it provided mechanisms for the Charedi world to enter the workforce and thereby better provide for their families and contribute to the overall economy.


Some of these mechanisms are controversial by Israeli Charedi standards. Such as requiring Yeshiva elementary and high schools to offer a core curriculum in order to be supported by the state. But there are other incentives which have been established outside the state that are less controversial. Like programs in Machon Lev, and Kiryat Ono, and Adina Bar Shalom’s Charedi College. Additionally there are a variety of smaller programs designed to help Charedim. Like Kemach.

The requirement of all Israeli citizens for army service before going to work is being satisfied by programs like Nachal Charedi. Perhaps the biggest incentive of all is the exemption of Charedim from army service if they reach a certain age before 2017… when the new draft laws are in place. That has freed up thousands of Charedim to materially improve their lives and those of their families.

There is a lot of work still to be done in this area. Not to mention the fact a there will be a new Keneset in place that will surely include the Charedi parties. And they may very well try and roll back some of this progress. In the meantime, though, it appears that more Charedim than ever are entering the workplace.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. One that is very disturbing and can wreck the entire thing. From Arutz Sheva:

Haredi men and women who do complete a form of National Service or university studies are stunned to find that employers shun them, Walla! News reports Tuesday, as the workforce is increasingly entering the catch-22 of requiring a broad range of experiences for entry-level jobs.

According to a March 2014 survey, commissioned by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there is significant discrimination against haredi workers. 30% of respondents expressed reluctance to work with a haredi man and over a third of employers (37%) expressed a reluctance to employ haredi men.

I was disheartened to read some of the comments by Charedim that have been mistreated along those lines. Here is just one of them:

“When I get an interview, they always look me over from head to toe, like I’m a strange bird,” Shmuel, a 33 year-old from Ashdod, stated to the news agency. Shmuel served in the IDF and studied electrical engineering, despite some resistance from family and friends.

“Even my previous employer, who made me responsible for production workers, made sure I would feel uncomfortable and signaled me to leave,” he lamented. “The feeling is hard: you want to fit in, but no one wants you.” Shmuel feels helpless… he does not understand the complaints against him and the haredi community for not going to work – because he himself can barely eke out a living despite his choice. “I feel like I’ve wasted my time…”

If there is anti Charedi discrimination in the workforce, something ought to be done about it. Their civil rights should be no less protected than any other minority class that has experienced discrimination. Whether that discrimination is based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. These are all protected minorities that have experienced wholesale prejudice. Charedim deserve no less protection. I can think of little that upsets me more than a class of people trying to do the right thing and being rebuffed by pre-existing prejudices.

That said, we ought to examine that bias and see if it has any merit. In some cases reluctance to hire a Charedi individual may be because of legitimate concerns. I recall one entrepreneur in Lakewood who was sympathetic to the poverty so prevalent in that world. He went out of his way to hire former Lakewood Avreichim.


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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at [email protected].