Times of Israel reports: To paraphrase the Haggadah, dayenu – it would have been enough – if Hanita Fridman ran a software development company whose vision was to help the ultra-Orthodox find their place in Israel’s workforce. It would have been enough if she herself were ultra-Orthodox. And it certainly would have been enough if she had set up her company far from the center of the country, the better to bring job opportunities to the north.
As it turns out, she is all three. Along with a partner, Fridman (whose husband studies full-time in a kollel) runs start-up computer software development company Karmisoft, where more than half of the nearly two dozen employees are Haredi men and women, in the Galilee town of Carmiel.
But if that sounds like a rare mix, you’re out of the loop on ultra-Orthodox issues, according to Fridman. “Whenever I hear a debate on public policy regarding how to put the Haredim to work, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said in an interview. “Of course Haredim want to work. It’s just that nobody wants to hire them.”
Fridman spoke to the Times of Israel at the Technology 2013 show in Tel Aviv this week. The show featured the latest in tech for use in industry, agriculture, and manufacturing, representing a further merging of the high-tech and low-tech worlds – with the latter becoming more dependent than ever on the advancement and innovation of the former, show organizers said.
Job opportunities are what it’s all about for Fridman. “Today more than half the Haredim in school are studying programming, but until very recently there were no jobs for them at all. Here in the Galilee, the only jobs open to them were in education. Our vision is to change that. We hire individuals with advanced and basic skills, and they work in-house on our contracted projects, as well as with companies here in the area that need employees. In many cases, those employees stay on with the companies we placed them with and become regular employees there,” she said.
Karmisoft is on top of the latest trends in app development, with employees expert in hot areas like embedded systems, user interface, web apps, and mobile app development. “It’s a little strange to fathom,” she acknowledged, “seeing the Haredi women who work in our office programming for smartphones, when they themselves use phones that don’t even have text messaging capabilities.”
Karmisoft’s staff has done dozens of creative projects, including a remote control card software project for the military, a quality testing tool for embedded system cards with LCD screens, numerous websites, and dozens of mobile and web apps. “We did, for a European company called Grunveld, a security application for trucks, which uses sensors to alert drivers to obstacles in their path when they are going in reverse,” said Fridman. “We did another sensor app for a company called Btline, which gathers data on temperature and humidity in fruit growing areas, and sends the data to a website, where farmers can access it.”
Most of Karmisoft’s projects focus on the area where high-tech methods can solve low-tech issues. But there are some projects Karmisoft won’t accept, said Fridman. “We usually turn down entertainment apps, or projects for websites that are not of the type we would feel comfortable using. In the past, we got a lot of offers from gambling sites to do work for them, but we decided against that kind of work.”
Read more at Times of Israel