IDF to open its first Haredi pre-military academy

The program will last four years, including two years military service and two years of yeshiva study.

July 10, 2013 23:22
2 minute read.
Haredi with IDF soldiers

Haredi with IDF soldiers 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

The first haredi pre-military academy to be funded by the Defense Ministry will open this August in the Jordan Valley.

News of the establishment of the Hararei Tzion academy on Wednesday came amid heightened tensions surrounding the issue of haredi enlistment in the IDF, as well as an attack against a haredi soldier carried out by a mob of ultra-Orthodox men in Jerusalem on Tuesday night.

Graduates of the academy will serve as combat soldiers in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the IDF’s Nahal Haredi unit.

Following instructions from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the Defense Ministry, together with the Education Ministry and the Regional Council for the Jordan Valley, published information on Wednesday about the academy.

“We are right now in the middle of a gradual and historic process in which the number of young haredi men enlisting in the IDF is continually increasing,” Ya’alon said regarding the opening of the new academy.

“We are doing this not by brandishing a sword, but gradually, with tolerance, while having recruited leading haredi figures in the ultra-Orthodox community to help us in this important social process, which will contribute to the IDF and Israeli society.”

In the first stage of its operation, the academy will accept 20 haredi youth from around the country, preparing them for enlistment and engaging them in religious studies and community work in the Jordan Valley.

The staff, including the director and instructors, is to be made up of haredim who served as officers and NCOs in Nahal Haredi.

According to a statement by the Defense Ministry, emphasis will be placed on the participants’ haredi identity, while at the same time giving them the tools to prepare for army service and contributing to the state as IDF recruits and Israeli citizens.

The academy will be located at the site of the former Gadi military camp near the Masua settlement.

According to Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani, the buildings at the base were renovated over the past year.

“We are happy to be part of this historic process,” he said.

Although the facility will be the first pre-military academy for haredim to be funded by the Defense Ministry, there already exists a privately funded academy catering to haredi youth. It is wary of publicity out of concern for its activities and students, and thus remains little-known.

On Wednesday, Ya’alon also announced that a Hesder program for haredi men was being opened at Moshav Nehalim, near Petah Tikva.

Hesder programs combine Torah study and army service.

Participants, who are overwhelmingly from the national- religious sector, usually serve 16 months in the army and study for three and a half years in a yeshiva.

The haredi program at Nehalim, which will also offer an emphasis on hi-tech, will be called the Netevei Torah Ve’technologia Hesder Yeshiva.

It is designed for haredi boys aged 17 and upwards who are interested in combining “substantial military service, Torah study and the acquisition of a profession in hitech, which will prepare graduates for integration into the work force.”

The program will last for four years, including two years of military service and two years of yeshiva study.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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