Education Toward Employment in the Haredi Sector

Haredi Education Toward Employment

 

Education Toward Employment in the Haredi Sector

 

Need: Jerusalem has the largest Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) population center in Israel, and the community is growing quickly. The Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies notes that one-third of the Jewish population, some 200,000 people, including 100,000 children in the Haredi school system, identify themselves as Haredi. Its size and import make the Haredi community in Jerusalem the social and political center of Haredi society in Israel.

The community contributes enormously to the ever unfolding story and spirit of Jerusalem. However, its dedication to Torah learning, has, until recently, not encouraged studies and training that lead to well-paying employment outside the Yeshiva world. As a result, the Haredi sector is the poorest of the city's Jewish population, and participation in the workforce lags far behind that of other sectors. This has created a community-wide financial crisis that is affecting Jerusalem as a whole.

The Jerusalem Foundation seeks to shape a modern, unified and vibrant city by creating opportunities in education for all of Jerusalem’s population groups, especially its most vulnerable populations. It also seeks to provide opportunities for economic growth, including a basis for future employment. Thus, two major programs for which we are seeking funding are higher education scholarships for Haredi students and strengthening Haredi state schools.

Impact: Over the past several years the trend toward vocational training and employment tracks has been growing significantly in the Haredi sector, along the lines of the Talmudic saying, “If there is no bread, there is no Torah.” אם אין קמח אין תורה. Each year, thousands of Haredi students are enrolled in higher education, and most of these in career tracks. The Jerusalem Foundation, too, has been working, together with the Municipality, implementing partners, and leaders from a variety of streams - Belz and Gur, Hassidim, Lithuanian communities, the Torani and Shas - to enable thousands of children and adults to acquire the skills necessary to enter the work force. We have laid the groundwork, but there is much work to be done. We are therefore seeking funding for the following programs:

Strengthening New Haredi State Schools. The Jerusalem Foundation supports Haredi schools, Talmudei Torah (elementary age) and Yeshivot (age 13 and up) that include significant study of math, English and other “secular” subjects (Liba studies) alongside religious studies for both girls and boys. Studies take place at a high level, at least that of other state-run schools that are under curricular supervision of the Israel Ministry of Education. These studies will enable students to reach post-secondary studies in secular subjects, as well as religious subjects. These frameworks are unique amongst the Haredi population in Israel, since most Haredi frameworks offer little or no “secular” studies in their everyday curricula. Today there are 6 such pilot schools in Jerusalem. Our intention is to strengthen and expand this network in light of growing demand.

Pre-professional and Vocational Training Scholarships. Many young adults in the Haredi community face 2 main obstacles to professional training: 1) They lack the prerequisite coursework (especially in English and math); 2) financial difficulty. For several years the Jerusalem Foundation has provided dozens of scholarships to both pre-professional and vocational training programs, and seeks to significantly expand this activity. Scholarships will be available for a number of higher education institutions in Jerusalem, including: the Haredi College, Machon Lev, Lamda Center, Beit Ve’Gan College, Open University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and more.

Partners: Jerusalem Education Authority

Funding needed: 150,000 NIS annually for support for state. 10,000 NIS annually per scholarship.