Who’s afraid of Haredi Israelis?

It is important for us to properly understand the ability of ultra-Orthodox society to adapt to contemporary challenges in order to design policy for the future.

By GILAD MALACH
February 5, 2018 20:55
4 minute read.
A young Haredi man outside the IDF enlistment office in Jerusalem

A young Haredi man outside the IDF enlistment office in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Last week, there was much surprise at a major headline in the Haaretz daily concerning a dramatic rise in the average age of first marriage in the ultra-Orthodox community. The surprise stemmed from a widespread perception of ultra-Orthodoxy as a conservative and static society in which marriage is a sacred institution and the likelihood of any change is small. Even those of us who have a professional interest in ultra-Orthodox society, myself included, were surprised by the extent of the phenomenon.

But this is far from being the only surprise. The 2017 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel, recently published by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, identified several other new trends in the ultra-Orthodox sector, including a decline in the growth rate of the ultra-Orthodox school system (down to 3% per annum), a decline in the fertility rate (to 6.9 live births per woman), and a rise in the proportion of students taking matriculation exams in ultra-Orthodox high schools for girls (51%).

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