While the chareidi public is up in arms against the “draft decree,” figures released by the Israel Defense Forces shows that the year 2012 saw a 25% increase in the number of young chareidi men who enlisted in the army as part of a program called Shachar, which stands for “Shiluv Charedim” – 763 in 2012 compared to 608 in 2011.
An overall calculation of all charedim who joined the IDF points to a more moderate increase of 12.5% – 1,447 in 2012 compared to 1,282 the previous year.
Since the beginning of 2013, the army has received many requests from young charedi men to enlist as part of the Shachar project. The “Shachar Atal” program in the Technological and Logistics Directorate, for example, has already had three draft rounds since the beginning of the year, and another round will be drafted in a few weeks.
The Shachar project began in 2007 after the Air Force decided, in an unprecedented manner, to try to integrate charedim into its technical workforce. The young charedim, who are all married and about half of them have children, were offered unique service conditions, including strictly kosher food, working in a men-only setting, sleeping at home almost every evening, davening with a minyan, and receiving a salary higher than the minimum wage, known in military slang as “family payments.”
In light of the project’s success, the Shachar tracks were expanded, and in addition to the Air Force program, the program has also been introduced in the Navy, the Personnel Directorate, the Technological and Logistics Directorate and the Intelligence Corps.
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