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%).