Ultra-Orthodox Education – Advancing Science and the Humanities

Haredi Education


Ultra-Orthodox Education – Advancing Science and the Humanities


The Need: The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, numbering close to 200,000 with 100,000 children, is the poorest section of the Jewish population in the city. The community, dedicated to Torah learning, has, until recently, not encouraged studies and training that lead to well-paying employment outside the Yeshiva world. 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, providing opportunities for all its populations, especially opportunities for education and for vulnerable populations. In 2007, the Jerusalem Foundation began a program to introduce concepts of science and the humanities to ultra-Orthodox children, especially boys. This program has ballooned from 700 participants in the first year to more than 20,000 today in activities in cooperation with schools and community. While we are beginning to see the impact, there is still much work to be done.


Impact on Jerusalem: Science and history education within ultra-Orthodox schools is extremely limited. The Jerusalem Foundation’s involvement has generated great demand – from educational frameworks seeking to continue and expand activities and from institutions seeking to offer their services. We are now seeking funding to expand this programming:


One-time Introductory Sessions include: visits to a wide variety of historical, cultural, and educational centers, such as:

  • Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem
  • Meyerhoff Youth Center for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University
  • Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
  • Tisch Family Zoological Gardens
  • Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem
  • Ein Yael Living Museum
  • Yad Vashem.



Multi-Session Classes include: 6-10 sessions, depending on the subject, which enable students to delve into further detail and acquire more knowledge. Partner organizations include:

  • Machshava Tova – computer classes, either through a mobile computer classroom or an on-site computer laboratory
  • Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel – workshops in nature and ecology
  • Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem – science activities
  • Halon organization – English instruction


As the program develops, the group activities continue to expand. This enables a significant in-depth study of computers, English and the natural sciences; and demonstrates the integration of both broad spectrum and in-depth work. In addition, in many ultra-Orthodox institutions, the program has become one of the regular enrichment activities offered to students, something which points to the program's long-term influence.


Achievements in 2013-2014 include:


  • Increase in number of participants in group activities, with 51 group activities and 902 students, demonstrating the ability to deepen the first exposure and perhaps begin a transition to a more advanced stage in the program;
  • Expansion of activities outside of Jerusalem, reaching more conservative ultra-Orthodox schools (Hassidic, Lithuanian);
  • Expansion and improvement in English and science studies. The nature activities initiated in the program have become the basis of SPNI’s country-wide activities for the Haredi population;


Partners: Jerusalem Education Authority; Haredi Jerusalem Education Authority; Wellspring of Torah Education


Funding Needed: NIS 200,000 per year