Exclusion of Charedi Jews From Workforce Could Cost Israeli Market Over $100 Billion a Year, Official Says

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Ultra orthodox Jewish men walks by wooden planks which will be used to build a 'sukka' for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot commemorates the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the desert and a decorated hut or tabernacle (sukka) is erected outside religious households as a sign of temporary shelter. October 10, 2016. Photo by Nati Shohat/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** ????? ??? ???? ??? ?????
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If the employment rate of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men remains at a standstill, it will cost the Israeli market more than $100 billion a year within the next several decades, according to Israel’s Ministry of Finance.

The data was presented last week by Assaf Wasserzug, the deputy head of the budget division at the ministry, at a conference held by Jerusalem-based independent research center the Israel Democracy Institute. The conference was focused on the controversial Charedi Draft bill, years in the making, that would see the mandatory military enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men.

Israel has mandatory military service for any persons aged 18, with exemptions given to women on religious grounds and to Charedi men who continue their religious studies. This arrangement requires Charedi men to dedicate at least 45 hours a week to Yeshivah studies and avoid all other work until the age of 22. Charedi men who halt their religious studies, enroll in academic studies, or gain significant employment before the age of 24 may be enlisted for military service at once.

In the conference, both Wasserzug and Yulia Eitan, head of the Employment Administration for Special Populations at the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services, presented data supporting an initiative to lower the age when Charedi men can be exempt from military service, in order to encourage them to enter the workforce.

According to Wasserzug, the employment rate among Ch 50.5 percent today, compared with 87 percent for non-Charedi Jewish men.

The data Wasserzug presented showed that should this remain the case, the exclusion of Charedi men from the workforce would cost the Israeli market NIS 40 billion (approximately $11.25 billion) a year by 2030 and NIS 400 billion (approximately $112.5 billion) by 2065. These numbers were calculated taking into account the characteristically high fertility rate among the Charedi population. The sums were calculated according to an estimated average monthly salary of NIS 8,000 (approximately $2,250).

According to Wasserzug, lowering the age of exemption by just one year will lead to a 0.2 percent increase in Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2065, while lowering it from 24 to 21 would increase the GDP by between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent due to added years of professional education and experience.

Eitan also had a similar recommendation, saying the integration of the Charedi population — expected by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics to amount to 33 percent of the country’s population by 2065 — would be more effective if they could enter the workforce at a younger age.

Shahar Ilan / CTech

 

{Matzav.com}

7 COMMENTS

  1. Why would it cost the Israeli market more than $100 billion a year within the next several decades if chareidi men want to sit and learn and women stay home to raise their children?

    Many chareidim are in need of financial support but cannot go to work because they have to pass by the tumah army. So they stay in Kollel and are supported by donors.

  2. Over 50% secular do not serve in the army, mandatory military service is only for Chareidim.
    For those who still dumbly believe that there is no Gezeirus Giyus. Here it is black on white:
    Israel has mandatory military service for any persons aged 18, with exemptions given to women on religious grounds and to Charedi men who continue their religious studies. This arrangement requires Charedi men to dedicate at least 45 hours a week to Yeshivah studies and avoid all other work until the age of 22.

  3. @Moshe – Regarding the question posed in your first post: (1) If they cannot enter the work force, then any money earned through kollel or outside support is not taxed. Ergo less money pumped into the economy. (2) Money earned in most jobs is far greater than what is earned through kollel or raised through outside support. Less income means less items purchased in the market. That takes away from economic growth in general.

    Having said that, it should be understood that the government has an additional incentive – beyond economic – to facilitate increasing the presence of Torah observant Jews in the workplace; assimilation. If they can’t get the Torah Jews to acclimate / assimilate into Israeli society by forcing them into the Army, then they will attempt to do so by welcoming them into the workforce. Those who were exempted from military service because of religious reasons were also barred from many “legal” forms of employment. For the Medina, this law change would be a win-win situation.

  4. To counteract the negative posts above, many Charedi welcome the ability to join the workplace, within a proper environment.
    Supporting a family & gaining employment outside of the Beis Medrash is a normal desire of a Frum Yid. There are many fields of work that are acceptable for a Ben/bas Torah & strengthening of those options should be our main focus.

    • Moshe is right. You can only join the workplace after serving in the army. How can chareidim avoid going through the extremely spiritually dangerous years of army to work legally?

      • Precisely. It is a tremendous challenge. But it is one that need not be. The IDF turns away hundreds, probably thousands of fully eligible not yet frum Yidden, yet have great difficulty, actually refuse, to grant the dichui or petur due true Torah students as per the status quo agreement which is as old as the State itself.

    • My comment was not negative. It was only stating the facts. Without a doubt, many, dare I say all, chareidei li’dvar HaShem would be happy to join the legal work force in full recognition that they wish to, need to support their families and when/if they can no longer remain in the Beis Medrash full time. Unfortunately, the Medinah does not facilitate this, nor, for whatever reason, do they want to.

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