Parasites

It has been noted in the past, but the Jerusalem Post reported last week that the incidence of haredi volunteerism in Israel is extremely high, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Among Israelis who do volunteer work, haredim form the highest percentage of volunteers in the entire country: 36%. The next highest group are religious Israelis – datiim – who are not haredim, with 27%, followed by mesoratim/traditionally oriented Jews, with 14%. Thus, the religious community constitutes a far higher percentage – even without the traditional Jews – of volunteerism than any other sector of the Israeli population. What is most striking is that the datiim apparently do twice as much volunteer work as do the secularists, and haredim almost three times as much as the secularists.

Knowledgable Israelis greeted these latest stats with a yawn. It is very old hat, and not at all surprising. After all, we already know that the Orthodox give away a far greater portion of their income to charity than does any other part of the population, and that they open up their homes to guests on a regular basis , far beyond the norms of ordinary hospitality. To volunteer to help communal causes is merely another manifestation of this, and comes very naturally.

But once again this statistic turns on its head the canard about Orthodox self-centeredness, its exclusionary tendencies, its lack of concern for the other and for the community. “Parasites” is the insult-du-jour that is hurled at haredim. And it makes one wonder about the self-proclaimed tolerance, love for humanity, open-mindedness, and communal responsibility on which the secular, benign, non-parasitic community prides itself.

An obvious question: Why is it that religious Jews form such a high proportion among the ranks of the volunteers? Obvious answer: If in fact volunteerism is a manifestation of selflessness and concern for the other, could it be that the religious life of Torah inherently points a person away from himself and toward the other? Could it be that the constant reminders and awareness of God impact upon a person’s consciousness and make him/her aware that he is not the center of the universe around whom all else revolves? And certainly regular prayer to the Other imprints upon the soul the fact that there is an Other above me, and an other beside me.

We are justified not to be surprised at this new evidence of what we have known all along. The next time someone uses the word “parasites” about haredim, ask that person when was the last time he/she did some volunteer work for the community at large.

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47 comments to Parasites

  • lev bar nattan

    Haredim don’t put their actual lives on the line for three of the best years of their lives,
    + reserve duty till their forty. that is the ultimate volunteerism, and until they meet this standard,
    they will always be regarded as parasites. The world just doesn’t accept the hareidi trade, of
    soft volunteerism vs the ultimate sacrifice….

  • joel rich

    Not to get involved in the parasite point, but I wonder what percentage of the charedi (or for that matter non-charedi ) volunteerism is inward versus outward? The responsa of R’ Moshe Feinstein comes to mind concerning orthodox involvement/contribution to Federations (Hameivin Yavin).
    KT

  • Bob Miller

    Historically, even in modern times, Jews have often made the ultimate sacrifice for their
    fidelity to Torah. If the army had been properly organized to respect all Torah values
    (including tzniut), as opposed to being an engine of secularization by design, we would have
    seen greater chareidi participation.

    There is also a large group in Israel which has not been willing, for whatever reason, to
    carry out their mission from G-d to study and obey the Torah. While others have been able
    to pick up the slack for them to insure continued Divine protection for Israel, the slackers,
    who we could regard as parasites in this matter, should start to pull their own weight.

  • Seth Gordon

    What proportion of the volunteer work by these groups involves contact with people outside their own communities?

    I fear that the same psychological forces that can inspire someone to devote lots of volunteer labor to others within his or her own community can also inspire that person to shy away from making sacrifices that would benefit people outside that community. I would be happy to be proven wrong, of course.

  • ak

    “but I wonder what percentage of the charedi (or for that matter non-charedi ) volunteerism is inward versus outward?”
    “I fear that the same psychological forces that can inspire someone to devote lots of volunteer labor to others within his or her own community can also inspire that person to shy away from making sacrifices that would benefit people outside that community. I would be happy to be proven wrong, of course.”

    A few examples of, perhaps, hundreds: Yad Sarah, Zaka, the various medical referal organizations.

    Have you ever been to Yad Sarah in Jerusalem? (I have) If is run like a professional corporation serving EVERYONE.

    Have you ever been in Haddash Hospital for countless hours? (I have) The women (and men) who tirelessly hand out sandwiches (and smiles) to all are shying away from what?

    Have you ever needed to call for medical references in emergency situations? (I have) Were you asked which community you belonged to? I don’t think so.

    nuff said

  • Edvallace

    Joel,

    If you really question how far out chareidi volunteerism extends you must not be familiar with the many dozens of chareidi organizations that service the broad public secular and religious. Do the names, Panim Meir, Chazon Yeshaya, Zichron Menachem, Chayeinu, Yad Sarah, Ezra L’Marpeh, Ezer Mi’Tzion etc. ring a bell to you?

    The bottom line is that if the Israeli army gave a fig for the religious sensibilities of its soldiers – something that has been demonstrated in 1,000 ways that it doesn’t – there would be far more chareidim in the army. Since they essentially withold that option from the chareidim, they’re forced to contribute to the society in many other ways, something they do quite well.

    As far as not contribtuing to federations etc. that is a far more complicated issue than how far chareidi volunteerism extends. It’s an issue that is affected by many things, not limitedto the fact that Federations support meany initiatives that are blatantly anti anything that the Torah stands for. In case you’re not familiar with this as well, let me provide you with a few examples.

    1. Sending $20,000 sponsoring a haggadah that is written for women, by women [none relgious of course] celebrating the exodus from a militan feminist standpoint! Themes like Pesach and Mattan Torah never quite make the final cut in this one.

    2. Sponsoring the LBGT parade in Jerusalem. Need more be said?

    3. Hosting a dinner for all important Jewish execs. The menu was loaded with shrimp, the other white meat etc.

    4. Sponsoring an “art” exhibit by Leanord Nemoy portraying women in the nude clad only in Teffilin!!!!! Yes, you read right.

    It’s true that they give money to our dayschools and therefore the issue is cloudy to some extent but it’s far from a clear indictment of Chareidim and their charitable impulses.

    KT

  • Menachem Petrushka

    An economic analysis of the results would probably point out that some of the charedi-secular differentils in
    volunteerism is explained by the differences in the wage rates they command in the market place. The opportuniy cost at the margin for taking a day off from work for the average secularist is much higher than for the average charedi.
    One must be careful to do ceteris paribus i.e. (apples with apples not oranges) comparisons

    A better comparison would be between American Charedim and Israeli secularists.

    That is not to say that I do not agree with the thesis that the Torah makes one a kinder
    human being and Jew as can be seen from the fact that Charedim give a greater percentage
    of their income to charity than any other group. It is just that as the Perek says, Do not judge one until you reach his place.

  • Yaakov Menken

    I know that it is already Shabbos for Rabbi Feldman, so his own response (should he so choose) will come later. But personally, the two volunteer organizations with which I am most familiar are:

    ZAKA, which has the terrible job of “cleaning up” after terror attacks and other mass casualty incidents. After the devastation of the Tsunami in Thailand, they became known as “the team that sleeps with the dead.” The last time I checked, most residents of Thailand were outside the Orthodox community.

    Yad Sarah, which provides free loans of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches, etc., to residents all over Israel. While I was once, briefly, a beneficiary of their services (sprained my ankle), they provide to all Israelis, whether Jewish or not. The longtime director of Yad Sarah, Rabbi Uri Lopoliansky, is now the mayor of Jerusalem.

    Two organizations are not, of course, a statistical sample. But like I said, these are the two charitable organizations in Israel with which I am most familiar — and both of them provide the proof that Seth is looking for, that these volunteers are working outside their communities, rather than inside.

  • Chareidi Leumi

    lev bar nattan,

    This is wrong, the RZ community gives MUCH MORE per capita to the army than the secular community, but has it given them any respect? No. It may be that 40% of the officer’s corps are religious and more secular Jews avoid service than chareidim and even those who do serve always look for the cushy office job for the next 3 years (not one of the children of any Shinui party member served in a combat unit – protektzia).

    In truth, the vast majority of Jews who put their lives on the line for our land and our people are either religious or traditional – NOT secular. A persons commitment to fighting for the Jewish people increases to the degree of that person’s commitment to the Torah.

  • ak

    “An economic analysis of the results would probably point out that some of the charedi-secular differentils in
    volunteerism is explained by the differences in the wage rates they command in the market place. The opportuniy cost at the margin for taking a day off from work for the average secularist is much higher than for the average charedi.”

    How about comparing the volunteerism of the non-working spouses? Compare the ‘opportunity cost’ of a mother of 1.4 kids versus the mother of 6-12 children. To rephrase your sentence: The opportunity cost at the margin of taking time off from running a household for the average charedi mother is much higher than for the average secularist.
    Also have you ever seen Tomchei Shabbos in action on a Thursday night? Quite a few “average charedi” working men (some of whom command quite a respectful salary) are busy packing boxes full of potatoes, etc. to be delivered without fanfare to needy families.

  • Seth Gordon

    Thank you for reminding me of Zaka and Yad Sarah, but it does not answer the question that joel rich and I asked: what proportion of volunteerism in these communities benefits people outside them? I realize that nobody can answer that question to nine decimal places of precision, but it would be nice if someone had an answer more precise than “not zero”.

    (To be fair, one might also ask how much volunteer time/money from secular Ashkenazi Israelis goes to benefit secular Sephardim, and vice versa.)

  • Edvallace

    Seth,

    There actually is a large body of evidence pointing to the charitable nature of the chareidi public and how it affects the broader public. Here are two links to help you get started if you’re really interested.

    http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/771/
    http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/765/

    KT

  • Steve Brizel

    Seth-Ever been to Mt Sinai Hospital or NY Hospital in NYC? Look at the Satmar bikur Cholim. They serve anyone and everyone-Satmar and “not yet frum.”
    How about Hatzalah? I don’t think that the issue of which community is more chesed oriented boils down to simplistic analysis of who serves in the army
    or symbols of “checkbook Judaism” such as Federations. The issue is not whether everyone should serve in the IDF because most senior IDF officials
    admit that the IDF could not handle an influx of Charedim or need their services. Federations provide services to the entire Jewish community but their
    support of Torah educationuntil the late 60s was nonexistent, presently is lukewarm and has been so since the end of the Gruss grants.
    Their pluralistic notions of “Judaism” are not generally how, where and when many Torah observant Jews would prefer to see the bulk of their
    tzdedaka go. Somehow, I don’t see gimicky programs based upon “hipster Judaism” and other cultural fads as substitutes for genuine kiruv and chizuk
    oriented programs.

  • ak

    Seth,

    I respectfully think that your question has an underlying flawed premise.

    I haven’t the faintest idea of the proportions of, or even the amount of, volunteer work done by any community within that community or outside of it. BUT 36% of ALL volunteerism in Israel is attributed to Chareidim; and only 23% is attributed to non chareidi-dati-mesotati Israelis (i.e. secularists and non Jews).

    Before discussing proportions, I think it would be more insightful to look at the raw data.

    Do you have information on the population statistics of these various groups, so we can determine approximate per capita involvement in volunteerism?

    You write “I fear that the same psychological forces that can inspire someone to devote lots of volunteer labor to others within his or her own community can also inspire that person to shy away from making sacrifices that would benefit people outside that community.”

    Please fill in the blanks:

    The chareidim constitute only ___ % [some small number]of the population of Israel. The psychological forces that inspire them to do vounteer labor (remember 36% of total volunteerism) within their community, also inspires them to shy away from volunteer work outside the chareidi community. Therefore their volunteer work must constitute ____ % [some extremely small number] of volunteerism for the population at large. Therefore their volunteer efforts should hardly noticed outside of their communities.

    If we see SIGNIFICANT VOLUNTEER WORK that benefits the whole population,maybe, just maybe, we should rephrase your assumption as follows: The same psychological forces that can inspire someone to devote lots of volunteer labor to others within his or her own community can also inspire that person to make sacrifices that would benefit people outside that community. This seems at least as reasonable as your assumption, and Yad Sarah, Zaka and all the other wonderful organizations seem to be a testimonial to the outward look of charedim.

    (As a side point, I think it would be informative to note an example in New York.
    Bikur Cholim of Satmar has a network of volunteer work in NYC hospitals that includes free scheduled bus service that picks up volunteers at designated bus stops so they can visit and comfort the sick, without regard to the religiosity of the patient. We should all be inspired by thier contact and involvement with all Jews, regardless of their religiosity.)

    Kol Tuv

  • joel rich

    Joel,

    If you really question how far out chareidi volunteerism extends you must not be familiar with the many dozens of chareidi organizations that service the broad public secular and religious. Do the names, Panim Meir, Chazon Yeshaya, Zichron Menachem, Chayeinu, Yad Sarah, Ezra L’Marpeh, Ezer Mi’Tzion etc. ring a bell to you?
    ==========================================
    Me-Interesting response to my request that specifically stated that I was not addressing the parasite issue but looking for quantification. Just to set the record straight I am familiar with those names as I’ve contributed to a number of them over the years.
    =================================

    The bottom line is that if the Israeli army gave a fig for the religious sensibilities of its soldiers – something that has been demonstrated in 1,000 ways that it doesn’t – there would be far more chareidim in the army. Since they essentially withold that option from the chareidim, they’re forced to contribute to the society in many other ways, something they do quite well.
    ============================
    Me-that’s an interesting take on the issue. Somehow I suspect the cause and effect you outline is not corellated.
    ===========================

    As far as not contribtuing to federations etc. that is a far more complicated issue than how far chareidi volunteerism extends. It’s an issue that is affected by many things, not limitedto the fact that Federations support meany initiatives that are blatantly anti anything that the Torah stands for. In case you’re not familiar with this as well, let me provide you with a few examples.
    It’s true that they give money to our dayschools and therefore the issue is cloudy to some extent but it’s far from a clear indictment of Chareidim and their charitable impulses.

    KT

    Comment by Edvallace
    ================
    Me-As I said hameivin Yavin- R’ Moshe basically said aiui that if they give more to the orthodox community than they take out, then contributing is ok
    . This was the point I was trying to make and ponder if the volunteerism had a similar basis. WADR I think you read a lot more into my post than was there – I was asking out of a desire for more knowledge and you (at least it seems to me) reacted as if I were attacking – you might want to think about it a bit
    KT

  • Jewish Observer

    Selflessness on one’s own terms is what chazal refer to as eino metzuveh v’oseh. It is hard put it any better than lev bar nattan above “Haredim don’t put their actual lives on the line for three of the best years of their lives”.

    If charedim have the fortitude to live with benefitting from others’ mortal sacrifices on their behalf – riteous as their cheshbon may be – they can probably bear the sting of being called parasites.

  • mycroft

    Certainly it is a given that Hareidi organizations in many times help non Chareidm. There is no doubt that a responsibility for Klall Israel is part of the framework of many Chareidim.
    It is also a given that except for the Chardal community-there are very few Chareidm who serve in Zahal. I doubt the
    reasons are practical-certainly for better of worse Zahal made accommodations with the Hesder Yeshivot. No the true answer is that for the Chareid community in general the state is at best masui certainly not rasui. Certainly since the Chazon Ish the attitude of Chareidm is to not recognize anything positive about a Jewish ste-thus to gether with the Arabs they in general refuse to serve in Zahal. Obvious exceptions Porush’s etc-but there are very few from Ponovetz, Brisk etc who will ever serve in Zahal.
    Thus the common denominator that the non-chareid world believes that they despise the Arabs and Chareidm equally. The Dati Leumi community has lately joined those despised because they also are challenging the legitimacy of the state. Those who challenge the legitimacy of any state will likely be called by those who accept the state as parasites or worse.

  • Jewish Observer

    I have a cousin who is now a well respected klal guy in Monsey. I once asked him why you don’t see heimishe yiden involved with non frum or non jewish causes. his answer was that there are plenty of goyim who can do that. we have to focus on our own stuff. much as I didn’t like his answer, i think this is more honest than much of the apologetics above.

  • Yaakov Menken

    JO, you’re making an unpleasant habit of making sarcastic comments with little substance. Your one cousin is hardly a representative sample — I personally know dozens of charedim involved in work benefiting a wide range of non-Orthodox and non-Jewish people. It’s funny how when the truth runs contrary to anti-Orthodox stereotypes, the truth is called “apologetics.”

    This includes what you might call “Orthodox” causes, like Hatzalah — which was responsible for all rescue operations on the south side of the WTC on 9/11. Your claim that charedim don’t put themselves at mortal peril simply doesn’t hold up. The Israeli army is not an environment for frum people, is discussing disbanding the hesder corps, and of course sends only a fraction of those serving into combat troops. In what way is a yeshiva student inferior to a JAG lawyer with a desk job in Tel Aviv? Nonetheless, a far higher proportion of charedim eventually go into Tzahal than people commonly think.

  • Moshe Hillson

    I (under the auspices of Ezer mi’Tziyon) give rides once a week
    for the ill and elderly to and from hospitals, dialysis, etc.
    For everyone’s information, most of “my” clients are not Orthodox.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    This is based on my experiences, growing up Chiloni in Israel. I have met a considerable number of Dati Leumi, both in the military and afterwards when I worked in a software company. My perception of them was based on personal experiences, not subject to manipulation by the media.

    I did not meet many Charedim. A few of the soldiers I served with self identified as Charedim, but I usually didn’t know that. Maybe one employee where I worked after the military, out of fifty, was Charedi – and she didn’t discuss it much. Naturally, my opinions and knowledge of the Charedi world came from media sources. Naturally, they were biased based on that media.

    Charedim in Israel have a tendency to live in a ghetto (in the original Italian meaning of the word, the one used in the US). The are probably valid reasons to it, such as not encountering too much of Chiloni society and going “off the derech”, as happens quite often in the Dati Leumi camp. But the price is that fewer Chilonim encounter Charedim in everyday life. This removes the best method to fight prejudices and propaganda.

  • Jewish Observer

    “JO, you’re making an unpleasant habit of making sarcastic comments with little substance”

    I think that truth is “substance”. As much as we would rather not beieve something to be true, we have to deal with the reality. The exceptions you list are what prove the rule. The fact is that aspiring to take a leadership position as a “world citizen” is not promoted as a value in the charedi world. (ask anybody on the moetzes) I am not saying whether this is good oor bad. In fact, if we are truly followers of “daas torah” perhaps we shuold strive to understand why tthis is so instead of making beieve our world is the way we would like it to be, based on our own (western?) values.

  • mycroft

    “Hatzalah—which was responsible for all rescue operations on the south side of the WTC on 9/11″
    Hatzalah was involved in the attempts to rescue on 9/11-and is a good piece of evidence for Rabbi Menken. But responsible for “ALL” rescue operations on the south side?

    “The Israeli army is not an environment for frum people” Why? There are certainly frum people from the chardal side who have joined the army-but chareidi for this discussion is probably referring to the majority of chareidm who are non-Zionistic or anti the State. That proportion is the mainstream of modern chareidi Israel-in general the Ponovetz, Brisk, Mea Shearim,Neve Yacov etc mainstream chareidm.
    If the chareidm were interested in joining the army something a la hesder-something could have been worked out.

  • Yaakov Menken

    Mycroft, involved is hardly the right word. Hatzalah was the on-site command on the south side (which is what I meant by “responsible” for all rescue operations on that side). Of course there were other ambulances, but Hatzalah was first on the scene and remained predominant on the south side throughout — their mobile command center was on-site before the second tower was hit. Hatzalah transported the Chief Medical Examiner when he became a victim.

    There was a study done decades ago in which the Israeli Army concluded that it neither needed nor desired charedim. The datiim who refused to participate in the Gaza withdrawal — on the word of Rabbis — gave a small hint of what it would be like to attempt to lead a charedi corps. Nachal is on very restricted duty for that reason.

    A friend of mine was in a hesder yeshiva, but due to his physical condition was put behind a desk rather than in a hesder unit. Without going into details, he said he understood very well why the charedim find it not worthwhile to participate. Again, in what way is a yeshiva student inferior to a JAG lawyer with a desk job in Tel Aviv? The Torah says that Torah study affords Divine protection. No one claiming to observe the Torah can deny that G-d runs the world, not us and our armies.

  • mycroft

    “Hatzalah was the on-site command on the south side (which is what I meant by “responsible” for all rescue operations on that side). Of course there were other ambulances, but Hatzalah was first on the scene and remained predominant on the south side throughout—their mobile command center was on-site before the second tower was hit. Hatzalah transported the Chief Medical Examiner when he became a victim.”
    With your clarification I accept your description of the work that Hatzalah wouild do to rescue general people. Of course, there is a reason that a lot of their instructions of how to reach them are not in English-vhameven yavin.

    “There was a study done decades ago in which the Israeli Army concluded that it neither needed nor desired charedim”
    Even recent studies have claimed that-of course, in reality there should be a case by case analysis,

    “The datiim who refused to participate in the Gaza withdrawal—on the word of Rabbis—”-It actually turned out to be a much smaller percentage than people thought. Of course, that could be a post on the apparent realative power of chareidi Rabbanim in their community versus the power of dati rabbanim in their community.

    “gave a small hint of what it would be like to attempt to lead a charedi corps.”
    What chareidim wouldn’t follow the law? Chareidm do in this country. I don’t follow the comment. Are you saying that both Porushes for example who I believed served in Hagannah/Zahal weren’t effective.

    “A friend of mine was in a hesder yeshiva, but due to his physical condition was put behind a desk rather than in a hesder unit. Without going into details, he said he understood very well why the charedim find it not worthwhile to participate”

    The issue is not the per cent of Chareidim who coulod be effective soldiers-but the willingness of a community to be part of clal Israel and defend the Jewish Yishuv. One does not have to believe that Israel has any religious benefit-besides a place that Jews live in and are not discriminated against to see responsibility for Jews to help in defending one another.

    ” Again, in what way is a yeshiva student inferior to a JAG lawyer with a desk job in Tel Aviv? ”
    There are always White Collar jobs in the military-it is the idea that one accepts the jurisdiction of the state as at least the law of the land

    ” No one claiming to observe the Torah can deny that G-d runs the world”
    But ein somchim al hanes. One does not ely on miracles. I assume that if anyone in your family is sick you would go to a physician. That is despite the fact that God is Rofei cholei amo yisrael.
    In Tanach times even with Urim vtummim which we unfortunately don’t have today- there were armies and a concept of milchemet mitzvah which includes defense of Eretz Israel. No one was exempt from a milchemet mitzvah-a milchemet reshut yes,

  • Steve Brizel

    The issues re Torasum Umnasum, Hesder, etc are complex, to say the least. I think that it is fair to say that most, if not all. Western countries, always had an exemption for theological students. OTOH, the questions whether everyone can and should avail himself of this argument against IDF service have ben explored by RAL Yivadleinu LChaim and RSY Zevin ZTL. While the IDF
    probably has no need for everyone in Mir or Ponevezh, the assumption that some there would not benefit from an arrrangement such
    as Charedi Nachal or an alternative to learning 24-7 is not that far fetched. Of course, both Limud HaTorah and the IDF protect
    Klal Yisrael. However, the arguments that have been advanced to date assume rather simplistically that either everyone must
    learn 24-7 , everyone must serve in the IDF with only Charedi Nachal and the hesder yeshivos offering a middle ground.

  • Yaakov Menken

    I’ll only comment further on mycroft’s insertion of the Torah’s milchemes mitzvah. He is correct, there is such a concept. And the troops were divided into three groups of equal size: combat, support, and learning.

    Seems that it’s the third section which urgently needs beefing up in Israel.

  • Jewish Observer

    “There was a study done decades ago in which the Israeli Army concluded that it neither needed nor desired charedim”

    This could sound very anti charedi, almost in a racist way. Could you possibly be saying that Charedim are inerently less talented than non charedim? Of course not. Why isn;t thiss study supremely offensive? Answer- Because all the study is necesarily saying – is that that Charedim, with their current attitudes, restrictions and loyalties, are more trouble to the army than they are worth. I am not sure this is something to brag about.

  • mycroft

    “is that that Charedim, with their current attitudes, restrictions and loyalties, are more trouble to the army than they are worth”

    That is the internal cheshbon hanefesh that the Chareidi world should undertake-why is it so that the Army correctly or incorrectly believes that.

  • Chareidi Leumi

    I’ll only comment further on mycroft’s insertion of the Torah’s milchemes mitzvah. He is correct, there is such a concept. And the troops were divided into three groups of equal size: combat, support, and learning.

    I hope that you have a source for this beyond the whole shevet levi piece in the rambam. – that does not apply in active warfare.

  • Edvallace

    Joel,

    I just took another look at your post and indeed I did react far more strongly than was necessary. I took it in a way you obviously did not intend and I apologize for the strong tone. I guess since it followed up on the heels of the previous comment that I misread yours.

    As far as the idea of the army being a very unwelcoming place for Chareidim, let’s just say I have alot more than simple anectdotal evidence to go on. I will not go into it here but its not just a belief. I personally know many in the Chareidi camp who would have been only too glad to join were it truly an option. The reality is that it isn’t and most Hesder people will tell you that as well. One day in the not too distant future there will be an expose by Hesder students on their treatment in the army. I couldn’t have been done earlier because to do so would have been seen as the ultimate betrayal. A few more AMona’s and it’ll be a reality.

    Kol Tuv!

  • Jewish Observer

    “I personally know many in the Chareidi camp who would have been only too glad to join were it truly an option”

    This is very encouraging. Imagine the positive PR were there a campaign by such chareidim publicly stating their solidarity with those already in the army and articulaating their wish to join if they only could. Seriously, this would be a tremendous step forward and kiddush hashem. Is there truly such a critical mass? (I would love to believe the answer is yes)

  • Doron Beckerman

    I had a very religiously committed roommate at Kerem BYavneh who served in a Hesder combat unit, and he told me “Anyone who tells you that they were not religiously adversely affected by their army experience is lying”.

    Another friend of mine demanded to be transferred out of his unit after his tank commander told him that he “needed the tank for a while” since his girlfriend was coming over to the base.

    It is not exactly a model of “Vehaya Mechanecha Kadosh” ["and your camp shall be holy"], to say the least.

  • Edvallace

    Jewish Observor,

    Indeed, it would be a tremendous Kiddush Hashem but I fear that it will never happen because there’s too much water under this bridge. Far too much distrust on the part of all the parties involved and therefore not really a viable option. When one reads how the army now plans to dramatically change the special units that were made for Chareidim it leads to greater distrust. [To be honest, I don't understand what exactly the changes are but it's certainly not going to make anyone more trustful of the IDF, will it?]

    Bottom line – I know far too many Israelis who attribute their current irreligious status to their time in the army. Anyone who claims it’s not a risk to their Yiddishkeit is fooling themselves. Hesder units certainly have it better and some actually grow in their observance but unfortunately many don’t. I don’t have the numbers on this but there’s no such thing as an insignificat minority in this instance.

  • Jewish Observer

    “… roommate at Kerem BYavneh …told me ‘Anyone who tells you that they were not religiously adversely affected by their army experience is lying’.”

    This is strong language for a Ben Torah

  • mycroft

    ““I personally know many in the Chareidi camp who would have been only too glad to join were it truly an option”

    This is very encouraging. Imagine the positive PR were there a campaign by such chareidim publicly stating their solidarity with those already in the army and articulaating their wish to join if they only could. Seriously, this would be a tremendous step forward and kiddush hashem. Is there truly such a critical mass? (I would love to believe the answer is yes)”

    I would like to believe the answer is yes-but I don’t believe the answer is yes. In general chareidim outside the chareidi leumi camp wish the State had never come into existence-they have a lot of Jewish tradition on their side. Certainly 300 years ago the overwheelming per cent of Jews essentially believed the Gemarah of Sholosh shvuot as being a halachik piece rather than a midrashic piece. Thus most who wished it never came into existence certainly wouldn’t want to fight for such a State.
    The fact that they are separating themselves from the Zibbur-does not bother them. They believe they are correct and will outsurvive the evil or sometimes only misguided Zionim.

  • Chareidi Leumi

    “Anyone who tells you that they were not religiously adversely affected by their army experience is lying”.

    Doron is correct, the Israeli army as it is constructed today is a MAJOR obsticle to a religious soldier. Only the strongest can remain unaffected. There are a few exceptions like Nachal Chareidi which so far is a good environment (you can get thrown in jail for lashon hara!) but overall it is not a condusive environment.

    The religious community should demand MASSIVE reforms before it sends its children to such an environment. (and this is besides the fact that the army puts Jewish lives needlessly at risk to protect “innocent” Arab civilians.

  • mycroft

    “Anyone who claims it’s not a risk to their Yiddishkeit is fooling themselves. Hesder units certainly have it better and some actually grow in their observance but unfortunately many don’t. I don’t have the numbers on this but there’s no such thing as an insignificat minority in this instance.”

    A bigger risk than for the time period in general? The army years are a big risk factor to go “off the Derech” for those who are nowhere near an Army eg US.

  • Zalman

    My unscientific sense is that all of the Israeli Haredi communal organizations touted here began in response to a need within the Haredi community. And initially, these organizations probably served only the Haredi community. (This is itself unsurprising; all of us probably respond best to the needs of those closest to us. Also, the needs of individuals in the Haredi community intensifies this trend.) Once the communal service was established, Haredi leaders had the good sense not to reject the non Haredi who came to their door. Still a good thing. But the existence of these organizations does not prove to me that the Haredi community have arrived at the ideal “areivut”: seeing all of klal yisrael as one – even in communal matters.

  • Joel Rich

    Everyone is entitled to there opinion, I would just point out that a number of the commenters seem to be advocating a “we’ll involve ourselves with “your” societial needs (e.g. chesed,army) to the extent we feel we can and unless you make major changes (i.e. allow us to define the terms of engagement and the political results)we will not involve ourselves in what others would call basic civic duties. As a thought experiment imagine this was the case in the Republic of Jahupetz, bderech hateva what would the results be?
    KT

  • david

    Jewish Observer, since you’re anonomous anyway, maybe you can list your volunteer activities and the background
    of the people that they benefit.

  • Bob Miller

    If Joel Rich’s Republic of Jahupetz despised some sector of its society, it would do everything possible both to exclude that sector permanently from a leadership role and to ridicule that sector for its own exclusion. A decision to fashion the Jehupitz army (and its society in general) so as to achieve social objectives at odds with the Divine law championed by that sector is a decision to exclude. Should that sector now ask for justice along the lines that the Divine law dictates, or should it pretend that it shares the Republic’s own view in order to curry favor with the ruling oligarchy? Which would be the choice of someone with self-respect? What would you do?

    Not to mention that the sector in question first set up shop in Jahupetz long before there was a Republic.

  • joel rich

    Interesting assumptions you’ve added Bob (though clearly moving further away from any parallel with the modern day State of Israel). But you didn’t answer my question, what would the ultimate result be bderech hateva?
    KT

  • Bob Miller

    Joel, those who have not bought into Torah would not buy into an appeal based on Torah. The groups do not have a common language as to what “civic duties” comprises in today’s big picture. The commenters you were reacting to
    were trying to express an ideal—what one would tell a caring, inclusive government—but would be highly
    unlikely to move the current government. The current government is moved by fear of large countries and a
    desire to add to its leaders’ individual power and money, as opposed to its own civic duties.

    As for “clearly”, what is clear to you may not be clear to others.

  • Joel Rich

    Bob, I understand the ideal and my clearly was a bit tongue in cheek but we live in a real not ideal world and I worry that the results of acting on this idealism could be negative – I hope my concerns are baseless.
    KT

  • Toby Katz

    I wonder how many of the posters who deride the value of any chareidi volunteer efforts — done by men and women of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly — as long as their young men do not serve in the Israeli army — how many of those sanctimonious bigshots actually served in the Israeli army themselves, and how many live in America and are armchair critics?

  • Jewish Observer

    “posters who deride the value of any chareidi volunteer efforts”

    derision is never good, and all positi9ve efforts should be lauded. At the same time I think the point in question is to what degree one who is part of a society can unilaterally decide what his communal service shuold be, versus working within the parameters of the system. To use a wise guy example – I can make great efforts in sincerely praying for the welfare of my kids’ (charedi) school, but I am pretty sure they will want me to abide by their system and give them tuition money every month.