MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ultra-Orthodox MKs present during a hearing of the Shaked Committee on haredi
IDF enlistment on Monday repeatedly said that enrolled full-time yeshiva
students who do not fulfill their study commitments and do not study “day and
night” should perform some form of national service.
convened for a lengthy session to discuss proposed legislation to achieve
mandatory military or national service for haredi men by 2017, as well as plans
to better integrate the haredi community into the work force.
widely believed that many thousands of haredi students enrolled in full-time
study, out of a total of approximately 45,000, do not actually fulfill their
commitments, although precise figures are not available.
politicians have frequently repeated the mantra that anyone not studying should
be drafted, several of the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers at the hearing also said
that any yeshiva dean who submits false attendance reports for yeshiva students
harms the Torah world.
“As far as I’m concerned, anyone not studying
Torah day and night should enlist,” said MK Moshe Gafni of UTJ.
Porush, also of UTJ, said “none of the haredi MKs defends someone who gets the
[military service] exemption but nevertheless does not study.”
the hearing from United Torah Judaism were MKs Gafni, Porush and Yisrael
Eichler, as well as Nissim Ze’ev and Ariel Attias from Shas.
did not cooperate at all during proceedings undertaken by the Plesner Committee
– which was established in the summer of 2012 to deal with the same
“We are coming to hearings in order to change [the bill] and to
influence. The text of the bill is not decreed by fate,” said Gafni in Monday’s
Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who was also at the session, said
that all parties were in agreement that anyone not fulfilling study obligations
“There was 100 percent consensus in the room, across all
the parties, that someone who does not learn day and night must go to the army
and that rabbis who sign that a boy is learning to this extent when he is not,
damage the Torah,” said Lipman.
“I hope the rabbinic leaders of the
haredi community will share this message and send all boys who cannot learn day
and night to serve in the army. This will remove all the tension between
the communities and will enable a joint plan to move forward with total
Although accurate numbers on the number of yeshiva students
fulfilling their study commitments are not available, it has been estimated by
several figures that approximately 60 percent of enrolled students do not study
for the required amount of time.
Brig.-Gen. Gadi Agmon, who represented
the IDF at the hearing, noted this phenomenon, saying that there are “thousands
who are not studying in yeshiva,” and expressed dismay that attendance reports
were not honest.
“I want to know how it can be that a yeshiva dean who is
a religious and spiritual leader signs a false declaration,” said
There are currently approximately 7,000 haredi men who turn 18
every year. Proposals made by the Peri Committee, which drew up the legislation
under deliberation, would provide 1,800 full exemptions and funding to
exceptional Torah scholars, comprising 25 percent of the annual
The IDF has expressed willingness to accommodate haredi recruits
and their specific needs by creating appropriate army tracks for such
It is currently establishing an induction center specifically
for haredi recruits at a cost of NIS 16 million.
The Shaked Committee has
not yet begun examining specific clauses of the proposed legislation, but will
start doing so in a hearing next week.
It is hoped that the legislation
will be ready for its second and third readings in Knesset by the beginning of
the Knesset’s winter session in October.
The earlier session of the
hearing, open to the media, dealt with haredi integration in the work
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said during the session
that the issue was one of supreme importance, greater even than that of haredi
integration into the army.
“Entry into the job market will allow haredim
to escape from the cycle of poverty and will help the entire economy as well as
assisting haredim to integrate into Israeli society.
Bennett said that
efforts to increase haredi participation in the work force would focus on three
things: creating a dedicated infrastructure of employment guidance centers
around the country; increasing the demand among employers for haredi employees
by providing financial incentives in places of work; and providing professional
training for haredi individuals.