soldiers haredi

Haredi Initiative

Haredim in Service

Every Israeli citizen at age 18 has to spend at least one year serving the country, either through the army or through national service. While the Haredim have typically been notoriously against serving, in the most recent years, more and more Haredim are either joining the army or participating in National Service. For many Haredim who choose to serve, this is the first time in their lives that they are interacting with the outside world and meeting Jews who are different than them. Gesher works with these brave Haredim to prepare them to encounter society as well as other Israelis. Gesher also works with the non-haredi commanders and soldiers in those units to introduce them to Haredi society and give them a sense of Haredi culture and lifestyle.

Haredim in Academia

More and more Haredim are flocking to colleges and universities. Many of these institutions are catering to the Haredim, creating specific tracks for their newly enrolled students. While the numbers of Haredim who enroll in institutions of higher learning is high, unfortunately the dropout rate is almost equally as high. We believe that the last impediment to success is assisting young Haredi students in navigating the major cultural gaps they face. Having attended Yeshivot for most of their life, the new students are not equipped to deal with the new university environment on a social level. In addition, exposure to subjects and lecturers that until now were considered taboo, can be a culture shock to the Haredi students.

Gesher has a program in place of a series of seminars that prepares the Haredi students for the cultural gaps between their lifestyle and that of the new environment that they are entering. Gesher also leads sessions for the faculty, educating and sensitizing them to their new students.

Haredim in Employment

While significant private and government investments have focused on vocational training programs, the placement and retention rates remain frustratingly low. Gesher works with employers to give them the awareness and the skills needed to hire and retain haredi employees. Through our Haredi sensitivity program, we give employers an overview of haredi society and their value system, including a deeper understanding of sub-groups within the haredi sector. The employees finish the program more sensitive towards the haredi lifestyle and needs and practical ways to avoid integration pitfalls.

Haredim in the Community

Ronit Cohen-Gluzberg was a participant on a Gesher Leadership course in 2015. Ronit is the director of Connect Jerusalem and is also a resident of the French Hill community in Jerusalem. In recent years, Haredim have been rapidly moving into the French Hill, creating a very diverse community. Unfortunately, neighborhood residents were not agreeing on many communal issues, making it extremely difficult to coexist.

Inspired by the Gesher Leadership Course, Ronit decided that she can implement change in her community. She created a forum for community dialogue between the secular, religious and Haredi residents with the goal of changing the community dialogue from one of power struggle to one of dialogue, understanding and compromise. The steering committee of Haredi, religious and secular community leaders meet once a month to continue the positive dialogue and to discuss any issues that might come up.

Ronit’s program has been such a success in the French Hill, that the Jerusalem municipality has expanded the program to other diverse communities in the city such as Kiryat HaYovel and Ramot. We have run similar programs in Beit Shemesh and Beitar.