February 9, 2018: Haredi employment

Our readers weigh in.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Haredi employment
With regard to “Number of Haredim in workforce declines” (February 7), statistics can be used to validate any point one wants to make, in this case, concerning stipends.
A shift of 2.7% is too small to show a trend. Possibly, the increase in the number of Haredi men in the working population is actually higher, but the percentage is less due to the gross increase in the number of Haredi men. If the figure that I have seen, of 4% growth per annum in working-age population, is correct, then we actually have an increase in the number employed.
Maybe more Haredim are becoming self-employed and this is not reflected in the figures. When this self-employment is part of the underground economy (I see it referred to in various articles as a “shadow economy”) in the community, the statistics are even more meaningless.
This is a self-supporting community. One family runs a nursery school, another sells pizza from home or offers catering services. Estate agents are another aspect. So is “informal” car-hire or taxi services. Whatever the activity, there is usually a macher in the community, someone who knows how to get things done, to take care of it.
We in the non-Haredi community totally underestimate the dynamics of this society. The same case could be equally used for other population groups. In my part of the country, I have come across many who have an official job for a limited number of hours to satisfy tax authorities and the National Insurance Institute, and something on the side for real income.
Pence’s support
I am grateful to Meirav Jones (“The resurrection of the Jews and Mike Pence’s ‘New Israel,’” Observations, February 2) for her persuasive “recovery” of the theology underlining Pence-Trump foreign policy. However, her opinion that this could have “unfortunate consequences for America and her Jews” seems to me to be a product of the exaggerated fear of Evangelical theology that liberal Jews have had for a long time.
This is ironic because so much of it is Bible-based and the source of Christian Zionists’ support for Israel.
Here are some of the stated elements “recovered” by Ms. Jones that happen to be part of my own beliefs as a religious Zionist:
• The establishment of a sovereign Jewish state with a united Jerusalem as its capital, populated by more than 6 million Jews in the territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, is indeed a fulfillment of a Divine promise predicted by the Hebrew prophets from Moses to Malachi.
• Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones is an appropriate metaphor for the resurrection of the Jewish people from their totally abject condition after two millennia in exile capped by the Holocaust.
• The fact that the ingathering of the exiles has resulted in a nation-state does not make it a “new” Israel (in some theological sense like the New Testament), but rather a reborn Israel, as that was its status in pre-exilic times.
• If Israel is the fulfillment of Divine promise to the Jewish people, then it constitutes a call, indeed a summons to Jews worldwide, to come home.
I, as many others, have answered that call. However, I would not call those who are deaf to this call “mistaken” or even “wrong” – they are simply missing an opportunity to make history instead of being its victim.
Ms. Jones is aghast that the Knesset applauded Vice President Mike Pence, comparing him to Cyrus. The Prophet Isaiah applauded Cyrus for his deeds, not delving into his theology. Pence’s theology is a lot closer to our own than that of Cyrus or even Lord Balfour.
Pence might believe that our story will have a different ending than we do, but I will let Providence decide that issue.
The writer is an emeritus professor of Jewish studies at Bar-Ilan University.