Female IDF soldier in the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
As more religious women enlist, the IDF has opened up a program that combines their military service with an education in practical computer-software engineering.
The J6/C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate program, called “Marom Yael” after the biblical figure, is done in collaboration with the Education Ministry and ORT Hermelin Academic College of Engineering and Technology in Netanya.
The first all-female class of 23 students began September 1, and after 18 months of studies at ORT Hermlin, the women will receive a practical computer-software engineering certificate. They will enlist in June 2019, when they will serve in positions in the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate related to their studies.
According to Maj. Hagit Kalef, head of the technological academic cadet program in the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate, the IDF will pay a significant amount of the tuition for each woman.
“The army has realized that it is important to encourage religious women to join the army and is investing in it,” she told The Jerusalem Post
, adding that “the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate is one of the most important technological branches of the army, and we try to bring the best minds to this directorate.”
The women who choose the program will serve the mandatory two years, plus another year and a half as a career soldier, Kalef said, “because the army will be paying 80% of their studies at the college.”
Women serving in the IDF (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The women can sign for longer if they choose, she said.
The IDF is “opening a new door for religious women to progress and have an education, and we will take them all the way,” Kalef said. “If she always dreamed of being a commander, she can be a commander.”
While mandatory conscription for females is two years, religious women may apply for an exemption, and in lieu of military service, they volunteer for national or civil service for the same amount of time. While most religious women apply for an exemption out of concern that the military atmosphere will have a negative effect on their faith and way of life, recently there has been a significant rise of those serving.
In May, a study released by the Knesset Information and Research Center found that number of women from the national-religious education system who have voluntarily enlisted has increased to just over 2,000 in 2015 from 930 in 2010.
While there has been significant pushback by the religious community regarding female enlistment, “the religious leadership is open to new suggestions and projects in the IDF as long as it doesn’t bother their way of life,” Kalef told the Post
, adding that some 4,400 religious women joined the IDF in the past year.
Calling it a win-win situation, she said the track won’t only benefit the army but the civilian and religious sectors as well.
“I really truly believe that when there is a benefit for both sides, and there is no problem to be a religious woman, the heads of the religious community will encourage the project because, it helps all of us,” Kalef said.
“It helps our country, and them personally, bringing technology to the religious community, using the minds of these young women to benefit the State of Israel,” she said.
“We are treating these girls like pearls. Everyone is behind them.”