Ultra-Orthodox Jewish youths study religious texts at a synagogue in Jerusalem April 7, 2011..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A new initiative to help Haredim learn English has gained significant interest in the Haredi community.
Avigdor Rabinovich, CEO of Avodot LaHaredim which assists Haredim in finding employment, posted an announcement last week on the whatsapp smartphone application, which is widely used in the haredi world, asking if people from the ultra-Orthodox community were interested in learning English.
Some 950 people signed up within 24 hours and 1,500 signed have signed up so far.
Upon receiving the deluge of applications, Rabinovich turned to former MK Rabbi Dov Lipman for assistance in establishing a project to address these many requests. Lipman was head of a Knesset task force to help Haredim enter the workforce and has remained closely involved in the effort to help Haredim receive training and find jobs.
The project now needs one thing - English speakers who are willing to volunteer and give 15 minutes a day to speak in English with on the phone. No teacher training or education background is necessary. Each volunteer will be matched with a course participant, with a commitment to speak for 15 minutes every day.
“One of the greatest obstacles that haredim meet when they seek employment is their inability to speak English,” said Lipman. “This commitment of speaking the language 15 minutes a day, alongside other projects which we have established, will empower thousands of Haredim to gain this critical skill and will help them enter the workforce.
“I cannot say it in any other way - 15 minutes a day of a someone’s help can in the long term assist a Haredi family to leave poverty and empower parents to support their families with dignity.”
Rabinovich said he anticipated “tens of thousands” of haredi men and women would seek this service. “Haredim are thirsty for tutoring in English as they try to enter the workforce and support their families with dignity,” he said.
English speakers who want to volunteer for this project can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, address, cell phone number, and email address. The staff will be in touch and connect volunteers with Haredim to establish their daily study times.