Haredi Jews, or Ultra-Orthodox Jews, refers to a socio-religious demographic of Jewish people that follow strict interpretations of Torah, halachah (Jewish traditions) and rabbinical decrees.
Haredi Jews are not a monolithic group, and have many ideological beliefs and differences sect to sect. Some characteristics that are often shared are cultural. Haredi Jews often wear old shtetl-style black and white clothing with distinct hats, have large families with a focus on the family unit, and live in neighbourhoods with predominantly Haredi families.
Ideologically, haredi Jews vary on zionism, but often believe in separation of genders in public spaces, are against public life and works on shabbat, and are often antagonistic to many manifestations of technology. Haredi youth are expected to learn Jewish scriptures in Yeshivas until they are married.
There are about 1.8 million haredi Jews in the world, many living in Europe, the United States, and Israel. In Israel Haredim make up about 12% of the population. There are haredi parties in the Israeli Knesset, such as Shas, United Torah Judaism, Noam, and Yachad.
One conflict between haredi Jews and other cleavages in Israeli society is military service. In the past there have been protests against the conscription of haredi men into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Laws have previously been passed to compromise and preclude haredi men from conscription. Another point of contention has in the past been haredi representation in the workforce, but the number of haredi Jews integrating into the workforce has been increasing.
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