College campus for haredim draws 1,000 applicants

Hadassah College’s Strauss Campus will offer ultra-Orthodox students an academic environment tailored to their lifestyle.

311_haredi women at college (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
311_haredi women at college
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Close to half of those who applied to study at Hadassah College’s new Jerusalem campus designed for haredi students applied to study biotechnology, an unusually high demand for a scientific field from the haredi community.
Hadassah College’s Strauss Campus, which opens next month, will offer ultra-Orthodox students an academic environment tailored to their lifestyle. This includes separation between men and women in the classes, which are mostly during the evening, as well as separation from the college’s main campus, located across the street, which is attended by secular students.
The new campus will offer students full undergraduate programs in fields such as biotechnology, management studies, computer science, communications and politics.
“We are amazed at the demand,” said the president of Hadassah College, Dr. Bertold Fridlender.
“Any way you look at it, it’s a vocation. For the haredi community, which is increasingly interested in academic training; for the city of Jerusalem, which wants to integrate haredim into the job market and also for the State of Israel, which understands the importance of providing equal tools and opportunities for everyone in order to reduce the gaps in Israeli society,” Fridlender added.
The deputy director of the Strauss campus, Nati Gamliel, also emphasized the importance of offering higher education for ultra-Orthodox students.
“In two years, we will have taught over 500 haredim in our various academic tracks, allowing them to enter the Israeli job market,” he said.
About 1,000 haredim applied to the different programs at the new school, half of whom are specifically interested in the biotechnology track.
“This is very surprising,” said Yaniv Rosenberg, spokesman of Hadassah College. “They usually tend to prefer other fields than research and science, like computer engineering, account management or education.”
In general, the majority of the new campus’s students will be women, but as far as the biotechnology program is concerned, men showed more interest: the program’s gender ratio is about 65 percent men and 35% women.
In addition, married men enrolled in biotechnology studies are offered a sum of NIS 1,500, which they can use for their studies, housing or any other basic need.
Applicants do not possess a high school diploma or a psychometric test score will be required to take a preparatory academic year in addition to the three-year program.
During the preparatory year, they will undergo training in math, English, academic writing and other subjects necessary for them to learn in order to fill the gap between them and other students.
Fridlender and Shimon Arbel, the head fundraiser at Hadassah College, are expected to travel to the United States in the next few days in order to raise funds for the school in American Jewish communities.
“In the United States, it is very much accepted that haredim go to work and financially support their homes. American Jews, even Orthodox Jews, encourage it and I hope to see this implemented in Israel,” said Fridlender.
The programs offered at the Strauss campus are the same as those taught on the main campus of Hadassah College, which is currently attended by over 2,400 students. They will also be conducted by the same faculty members.