Monday, August 06, 2007

The growing Haredi influence.

Much has been written about the demographics of the haredi population growth.The truth is that long after secular and Reform/Conservative Jews have seen the assimilation of their second,third and subequent generations,the Haredi world will continue,despite poverty to make up for the population losses of the former community.
That is why the exclusion of Haredi and Yeshivish leaders in recent hi-powered conclaves on the future of the Jewish people is a great error.
In truth there can be no future for our people without a Torah way of life.
Having said that,does not mean that we have to kowtow to Haredi demands in two specific areas.
1. Today, 10% of the Israeli population is "ultra-orthodox/Haredi".Yet,as more students leave the State sponsored religious schools,23% of first grade Israeli pupils attend Haredi schools.Parents,are interested in the security of the schools,the Hashkafah-or philosophy that rejects the MTV culture sweeping Israel and so on.Yet since these schools receive State funding, there is no reason in the world,why these schools cannot be forced to teach the basics of a secular curriculum ,including computer technology and its use.
Absent these courses,they should be prohibited from State funding.

I recall a number of years ago,when my friend Prof. Yaakov Neeman was Finance Minister.He made a presentation to a small group at the Jewish Agency ,with slides,graphs and charts.The bottom line,was the economic drain on a small State(Israel) by a growing cadre of uneducated, and unemployable young men on welfare
because they lacked proper training.The bubble of rich parents supporting children,then grandchildren who marry and have many children on their own ,and so on,will surely burst.
2.This brings me to my second point.One quarter of 18 year olds in Israel do not volunteer for the Army.One half of those are Haredi.This drain on manpower is not only dangerous, but brings the Torah Community to ridicule.
Not all these Yeshiva students, are worthy of deferment.Those in the calibre of Daayanim(Judges) educators and so on should be deferred.
The State should designate x number of deferments.A national exam would be given in addition to considering the learning level of the applicant.Those top students will be deferred with State stipends.The rest have a choice of military service,or community service/learn a trade for 3 years.There is no reason they cannot sit in a Bais Medrash at nite and continue their learning,as they serve their fellow citizens.