Yesh Atid No. 2: Haredim can’t support themselves

Shas head Eli Yishai defends haredi community, says State has failed to help integration of ultra-Orthodox into workforce.

Haredi man working 370 (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Haredi man working 370
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Speaking at hi-tech conference for the haredi sector, Rabbi Shai Piron, the No. 2 candidate on Yesh Atid’s electoral list, said that ultra-Orthodox leaders have created an entire generation of people within its community who are unable to support themselves.
The symposium, billed as the “first-ever conference” on hi-tech entrepreneurship, innovation and employment in the haredi sector, took place on Tuesday in Jerusalem, hosted by JVP, a hi-tech venture capital firm, and the Haredi Hi-Tech Forum.
“We are calling out to the haredim because we need them,” Piron said. “Haredi leaders have to stop relating to the State of Israel as an enemy of the Torah,” he continued, arguing that this mentality has “damaged Judaism” and formed “a generation of frustrated people who can’t support themselves.”
Piron added that “it is forbidden for a yeshiva be a ‘city of refuge,’” in order to allow people to avoid participating in the work force.
Interior Minister and joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said, however, that the state had not done enough to encourage haredim to join the workforce or perform national service.
“As someone who wants to implement the integration of haredim into the workforce, the haredi battalion [of the IDF] and academia, I say to you that until today the state has not taken one step or reached out its hand,” Yishai claimed.
He said the haredi sector’s integration into the job market and national service “should be allowed to develop according to its own norms and in its own fashion.”
More than 400 people, the majority of whom were haredim, participated in the conference, which was designed to help form connections between people involved in the hitech field in the haredi sector.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, himself a hi-tech entrepreneur, also spoke at the event, and noted that haredim had a lower chance of gaining employment in the sector than secular or national-religious people because of the stigmas attached to haredi workers. He called on hi-tech directors to employ haredim “who do excellent work.”
Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of JVP and the No. 11 candidate on Labor’s electoral list, said at the conference that Israel could “leap forward” if the haredi sector enters the workforce. Less political capital should be made from societal differences, he said, and sectors should instead concentrate on uniting factors.
Margalit added that there is no reason that haredim should partner with “the extreme Right,” and that a “work covenant” should be formed with the sector that would focus on integration into Israeli society “together with a logical and sane political path.”
The conference itself focused on providing advice on effective ways of raising capital, and also identified successful haredi hi-tech ventures and available government programs for encouraging entrepreneurship in the sector.