Efforts to turn Israel’s burgeoning ultra-Orthodox population into soldiers under the new law lifting their long-time exemption from the mandatory two-year stints in the army has had the unintended effect of solidifying a high-tech revolution in Haredi ranks.
The Christian Science Monitor (June 1) reports that “Through a program known as a hesder yeshiva, the men spend their daytime hours poring over religious texts and engaging in vigorous theological debates-—the bedrock of a Haredi man’s often lifelong education. But in the evenings, they apply those critical thinking skills to the 1,000 hours of cyber training required as preparation for their military service” in Israel’s renowned cybersecurity force.
The program “parallels broader efforts to integrate Israel’s burgeoning ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, population into the workplace—many of them into hi-tech positions, one of Israel’s biggest areas of growth and an easier way to support a large family than low-skilled labor.”
Ultra-Orthodox participation is also expanding in academic programs, including at leading technological schools like the Technion. Ninety percent of Haredim in the Air Force already serve in high-tech jobs. In the world of start-up firms the government recently announced a new program to provide Haredi entrepreneurs with 85 percent funding for hi-tech ventures. The field has also been ideal for Haredi women, who often serve as the family breadwinners while their husbands study.