Monday, August 18, 2014

Discrimination against Chareidim in the workplace by Allan Katz

Here is a short summary of   an   article from The Marker '   dealing with Discrimination against Chareidim in the workplace' and then my response.

My initial reaction to the title of the article describing the difficulty a graduate of the sought after elite Hi- Tec 8200 unit of the Intelligence Corps  to find work because of his Hasidic dress and appearance, was that a man with a chasidishe style dress, uncut beard, pe'yos etc would be at a big disadvantage as people normally don't like to be with people different to the themselves. But the people who complained about discriminationin the article  - just because they are chareidim -  were modern chareidi, no beard or suit, and who had went to the army – and this surprised me. Chareidi women have another obstacle in their path. They are asked when they intend to fall pregnant again. Although the % employment rate for women in Israel is 66.3% and for Chareidi women a close 61.2% we must keep in mind that often they are the sole breadwinners. Other obstacles in the path of Chareidim is the lack of training and qualifications, English and Maths, the degrees or non-academic diplomas  from the Chareidi colleges are not so competitive, and in the case of men they expect higher salaries because they enter the market at an older age and with a big family to support. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has a program to help absorb more Chareidim in the work force by opening employment centers, providing professional development and training, and offering incentives to employers to take on Chareidi workers. The spokeswoman said that employees were afraid of employing Chareidim because of their perceptions of demands for separation between the sexes and kosher food. She was hopeful in the long run as Chareidim become more open to working in a secular environment and employees reap the benefits of serious and dedicated Chareidi workers.[...]

The problem imho is the message conveyed by the politicians – both chareidi and secular. The chareidim would prefer not to work but remain in learning and live on hand outs and not integrate into Israeli life by going to the army etc. . . . So a private employer would ask himself – why support a community that discourages its men to go out to work or make a contribution to the country by going to the army. I think it was before the last elections that a friend of mine - studying in a Kollel and doing hours of she'rut le'umi with the intention of studying dentistry asked a  ' Gimmel ' - Agudah politician the following question. Why they did not join others defending the existing rights that 'she'rut leumi' offered to those who wish to study and enter the workforce.  The politician gave various excuses but when pushed, he said that Agudah cannot be seen to be encouraging young men to leave Kollel and go out into the workplace. The same negative attitude is to employment and parnassa is also expressed in the context of education. A kollel for young men who wanted to work and learn seriously in a Kollel framework was forced to close down.  A school offering kids to graduate in one year and do other courses afterward together with a learning program was severely criticized in the name of ' pure haskafos'.  It seems that issues of poverty have no place in ' hashkofos'.It seems that nothing has changed in the 60 years since Rav Dessler passed away? Rav Dessler had the view and belief ...... that  Yeshivah students should be encouraged to pursue full time learning and be denied the chance to get an academic qualification. Only in this way, could Yeshivas produce a large student body,  needed to  produce  Talmidei Chachamim and Ge'dolei  Yisrael. The negative impact on the lives of those not suitable for full time learning was a worthwhile sacrifice for this goal.The issue now is whether the system would not be better served by altering the single focus to one that allows a multiple tier educational system. [...]


  1. But many "gedolim" are self taught, home schooled. Not yeshiva educated.

  2. There is a clear pesak in the gemora and the Shulchan Aruch that it is forbidden to learn all day and not work. See Orach Chaim 155 that after doveing in the morning one should go to Beis HaMedrash and learn Torah for a while, and in the next chapter in Shulchan Aruch it says, "Afterwards one should go to work because all Torah that is not combined with work will end result in batolo, nothing and waste." The Zohar Chodosh has a length discussion of this in Beraishis that one who does not work and only learns "has taken paganism for himself." If we find that in the generations around WWII Yeshivas did not have any program for earning, this was because the situation was so desperate and there were so few Torah scholars that the few who entered Yeshiva were encouraged to spend all of their learning. The best among them had very wealthy Jews who were looking for a Torah scholar for a son-in-law, and the others could eventually go to work when they married, although this is considered by Rambam a problem, that was the way it was in the world. But today, to denigrate working and to disagree with open Mishneh in Pirkei Avoth and gemoras in the Talmud produces frustrated people and broken marriages.

  3. Meaning Chazon Ish, Rav Elyashuv, Rav Steinzaltz, Lubavitcher Rebbe. just a few examples.

  4. There is a big change in attitude to going out to work and one can see
    it on the ground, but this is from the ' bottom –up ' change. What upsets me , and I refer to this in the full article is that the chareidi community needs a lot of goodwill to help it fight poverty. Education and employment is not enough -
    there is a big need for subsidized housing , health care, nutrition and
    education. Statements expressing 'pure haskafos' – that we must discourage
    people in learning from going into the job market and also getting professional training impacts negatively on attempts at positive affirmative action in the public sector for chareidi employment and other support.

    R' Isaac Sher talks about learning ' al me'nat le'kanter ' - using learning to get at, annoy, or hurt somebody as being learning that has a negative impact
    on others even if there was no intention of the learner and he cites a Gemorrah –
    Gitin 6b

    Those Talmidei chachamim who went to Eretz Yisroel to learn and left their families to suffer in poverty - by their learning they have fulfilled
    the pasuk in Yoel 4:3 and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, and have drunk.

    ו: בני אדם העולין משם לכאן הן קיימו בעצמן ויתנו (את) הילד בזונה והילדה מכרו
    ביין וישתו – יואל ד:ג


    ויתנו (את) הילד בזונה - לפי שהן משתהין
    בארץ ישראל היו בניהם ובנותיהם משתעבדים בשביל מזונות והיינו בזונה בשביל מזונות ועוד
    מפ' כדאמר בירושלמי עובדא הוה בחד שמכר בתו ללמוד תורה והלך למד:

    When kids suffer , the learning is not worth much


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