Up to a month ago, these young haredi men were studying the Talmud. Now, they are engrossed in traffic laws and procedures, as part of their five weeks of training for their new positions in the Traffic Police.
Kollel students – 19 – have for the first time ever been recruited to the police for mandatory service, instead of a military stint.RELATED:Students petition continued payment of kollel stipends
The shortened IDF service for haredi men wishing to leave their yeshiva, lasting between 16 and 24 months and tailored to suit ultra-Orthodox religious and cultural sensitivities, served as a model for the police program.
At the end of their training, the 19 haredim will man the phones of the Traffic Police appeals center, located in the capital.
Following their mandatory service, they will be able to join the general
labor force. Those who are suitable might have the option to stay on
the force; some have already expressed an interest to do so, as head of
the Traffic Police planning and development division Alex Perelman told
The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
To Perelman, who was one of the figures instrumental in implementing the
program in the police, it is a crucial opportunity for haredi society
and the police to gain much needed proximity to one another.
“The police sees great importance in growing closer to the haredi
society and becoming part of it,” he said. “One of the ways to do so is
by simply enlisting them to serve in the organization, like we have
members of all other groups in Israeli society.”
Asst.-Cmdr. Bruno Stein, head of the Traffic Police, said in a statement
that he considered the project a harbinger, and expressed hope that it
would galvanize more haredim to join the police in its wideranging
activities, and serve as “a genuine bridge” between the police and this
Animosity has been known to break out between parts of the haredi
society and police over issues such as opening businesses and public
parking lots on Shabbat, alleged desecrations of ancient graves, and
arrests of haredim, who have repeatedly claimed police brutality against
So how are the former yeshiva students, who do not necessarily have
driver licenses or an acquaintance with law enforcement, faring with the
new subject material? “These are highly motivated men, with excellent
learning skills, mastering fields they were never exposed to,” said
Perelman, noting that beyond the specifics of the traffic regulations,
the recruits were also learning about the police at whole.
“They are putting a lot of effort into it, and it’s yielding excellent results.”
The 19 haredim, aged 21 to 29 and almost all of them fathers, will serve
at headquarters rather than as regular traffic policemen, in part to
avoid clashes with their lifestyle, such as the need to serve shifts
during Shabbat. In addition, this way it is easier to provide them with
special kosher food, and to free them at prayer times – as well as for a
break for a daily Talmud lesson. “In the field, it becomes more
complicated,” explained Perelman, who didn't rule out that in the future
such positions would be open to haredi policemen.
A haredi man recruited to the police manpower division is mediating
between the recruits, hailing from various parts of the haredi world,
and the police force, and Perelman said that the “recruiter” is being
approached by many haredi institutions interested in the unique
opportunity to join the force. Needless to say, the program has the
approval of the young men’s rabbis.
Perelman stressed that the police was not competing with the world of yeshivot.
“Whoever made the decision to leave the yeshiva and enlist is more than
welcome, we are not looking for those who want to stay and study,” he