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Helping Israeli Haredim Join the Workforce rss

Posted on: September 11th, 2013

In Israel, Haredim are a rapidly growing part of the population and many of them live below the poverty line. Haredi men often continue their yeshiva studies instead of serving in the army, and that, combined with other factors, can make it harder for them to find jobs to support their families.

Haredim jobs in Israel

One of men who participated in Shachar, where many of the men gain skills in computers and electronics. Photo: JDC

The army is a place where many Israelis gain education, skills, and connections that act as a launch pad for jobs after they finish university; the army is also the glue of Israeli society, the experience shared by most men and women over the age of 18.

In recent years, a program called Shachar has been working with both the army and interested members of the Haredi community to enable these men to serve in a way that is compatible with their religious and familial obligations. Shachar is supported by UJA-Federation of New York through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

“The most rewarding part was the pride I felt in representing my community and contributing to the army,” says one participant, Yakov Fishman. After Fishman graduated from the program, he got a job working at Elbit Systems, a defense electronics manufacturer. “Before the army I did unskilled work; today I am supporting my family, earning double my pre-Shachar salary,” he says.

The staff of Shachar provides career counseling to soldiers after they graduate from the program and works with Israeli employers on sensitivity training. The program was designed in 2007, and since then it has had 2,500 current and past participants, and 90 percent of graduates from Shachar have integrated into the Israeli workforce.

“We’re looking to increase access to higher education and then to help [Haredim] get jobs,” says Roni Rubenstein, chair of UJA-Federation’s economic empowerment committee. “It’s about creating a dialogue of understanding and respect, a more cohesive Israeli society, and using employment as a way to do that.”

To read more about this important work that we support, check out The New York Times‘ article on the subject.