I first wrote the checklist below ten years ago. I'm republishing it as a new post, for the third time. I've also set up a page with the best posts about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Some of the tips below only apply when Rosh Hashanah is ...


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Rosh Hashanah Survival Guide–Updated for 2017/5778 and more...

Rosh Hashanah Survival Guide–Updated for 2017/5778

apple on china plate
I first wrote the checklist below ten years ago. I’m republishing it as a new post, for the third time. I’ve also set up a page with the best posts about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Some of the tips below only apply when Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbat or leads into Shabbat. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions. You can also post on the Mother in Israel Facebook page.

On my Cooking Manager site, I have Rosh Hashanah recipe and menu ideas.

Those of us in Israel aren’t used to a three-day Yom Tov (two days of Rosh Hashanah followed by Shabbat). Wherever you are, here are some tips to keep you sane if you are panicking about now.

  1. Check out Carolyn’s lists on Juggling Frogs. They are long, and many items may not be relevant for you, but you don’t want to overlook anything critical.
  2. Remember that you can cook on Rosh Hashanah for that day, and on Friday for Shabbat. Of course we don’t want to spend all Yom Tov in the kitchen! But if you are behind, first worry about the Wednesday night meal and any dishes that you make using an electric appliance. I always remember that if I use up more food than expected, I can always take meat out of the freezer on the second night (Thursday) to cook Friday. I’ve never had to do it, though. (If Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, this would be Saturday night for Sunday lunch.)
  3. How many cakes and kugels can you eat anyway? Keep the menu simple. Plain vegetables with herbs are healthier anyway, and can be cooked quickly on Yom Tov.
  4. Don’t cook faster than you can clean up. Take the time to clear a cluttered workspace, and you’ll be more efficient.
  5. Making decisions can take more time than cooking. Plan what you are serving for each meal, how you will heat up the food, and which utensils you will use. Be sure to defrost everything early, preferably in the refrigerator.
  6. Set up and test any timers, including for the air-conditioner, early in the day on Wednesday, then turn them on before candle-lighting.
  7. Don’t forget the Eruv Tavshilin! This involves setting aside food from before the holiday that allows one to prepare on Friday for Shabbat, including lighting candles.
  8. Keep your family safe. Keep toddlers away from the stove, defrost and heat up stored food completely (for soup, that means boiling), and put away leftovers promptly.
  9. What are you doing on the computer? Get back to work! (Unless you’re nursing the baby.)

A word about halacha: One may not prepare for the second night of Rosh Hashanah before tzet hacochavim (the appearance of stars) So candle-lighting (from an existing flame), table-setting, and dishwashing must wait until that point. Our rabbi said, however, that one may warm up the food for the nighttime meal as long as it would be ready to eat while it is still daytime Thursday. I’m just quoting.

Another useful halacha for Yom Tov is found in the book Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchatah. While you can’t turn on an electric timer, you can push the thingamajigs in or out to make the appliance stay on for less or more time. So let’s say that I want to make cholent on Friday for Shabbat (this must also be done early in the day). Before Yom Tov, I’ll set the timer of the crockpot to go on only for 15 minutes each day, the minimumtime  my device allow. On Friday, when I have the food in the pot, I’ll add extra time on the timer in either direction. I’ll be careful adjust it so that it will not go on or off while I am adjusting it. If it’s on already, I can make it stay on longer or start earlier. If it’s set to be on for too long, I can adjust it to start later and end earlier. If it’s not on at the moment, you can set it to go off completely. Just be careful not to disconnect the clock.

A hagaz, a manual timer that turns off gas automatically according to the interval you set, is a lifesaver for Rosh Hashanah. If you can find a 48-hour candle you are all set.

On Shabbat, we light candles, cover our eyes and then say the blessing. Once we say the blessing we have accepted Shabbat, so we can’t light them afterward. On Yom Tov, when lighting candles from an existing flame is permissible, we can say the blessings first (including shehecheyanu) and then light the candles. Many Sephardim (Jews of north African origin) don’t say a blessing on Yom Tov candles at all.

And one word for the mothers of young children out there: It’s hard to miss most or all of shul on Rosh Hashanah while caring for your kids on your own (I hope you can find a friend in the same situation). Keep in mind that Rosh Hashanah will come around again, but this season of your baby’s life happens only once.

Wishing all of you a Ketivah ve-Chatimah Tovah. May you and your families be inscribed for a good year.


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Illegal Adoption Ring of Israeli Babies Exposed

Tal Tereza. Photo: Yuval Chen Ynet

Here is my loose translation of Part II of Ariela Sternbach and Yehuda Shochat‘s reporting in Ynet on a widespread adoption ring, in which American haredi askanim prey on young Israeli women and girls with unwanted pregnancies.

9 years ago, Tal Terezi’s daughter was kidnapped and transferred to an adoptive family. 

The authors have received dozens of messages about the baby trade on an enormous scale, and illustrates a serious dysfunction among Israeli authorities. Every case involves young haredi girls with unwanted pregnancies, who were sent to the US, and whose babies were taken moments after the birth. 
The “traders” operate like a chain with agents including American host families who provide homes for the pregnant women flown from Israel, doctors, channels for transferring money, and adoptive families who receive the babies one way or another after birth. In some cases the mothers cooperate and receive a fee. In a few cases force or trickery were involved.
Tal’s case is unusual because she knows where her daughter is. During the investigation we reached the adoptive father, and other links in the chain. But because of the time that has passed, Tal is worried about contacting her daughter, who may not know she was adopted.
Tal was married off at 16, divorced quickly, left home and got pregnant. The man broke off the relationship. She contacted the Efrat organization that helps prevent abortion by providing services to pregnant women. An Efrat volunteer “Rina” was assigned to accompany her. At four months of pregnancy, Rina arranged a meeting with a haredi askan (operative) from Brooklyn named Moshe, who offered Tal a trip to the US to work, saying, “If you have a place to go back to in Israel, you can bring the child back–all is well and good. It not, you have the option of putting her up for adoption.”
Before traveling, she was asked to go to a Beit Din (religious court) in Jerusalem, where she was asked intrusive questions about her parents’ background, and they insisted on knowing the baby’s paternity. Then she lived in Lakewood while doing light housework for a family, who provided clothes. Once, when Tal brought in the mail, she noticed a check from Moshe for $10,000 to the family in exchange for hosting.
After three months, the hostess brought her to the hospital and waited with her. The birth was short but Tal had medical complications and needed units of blood. 
“No one said anything about adoption, just that they will help me with whatever decision I make. The hostess returned home and I stayed with my daughter.”
Rina claims not to remember, but she admits to being a volunteer in Efrat. She doesn’t give a straight answer to the reporters’ questions. 
The Efrat organization acknowledges that Rina is a volunteer. The reporters found no involvement of Efrat in any of these cases.
Just before being released, two haredim came to visit Tal. They spoke in English and asked to see the baby. She thought they might have been sent by the community to see how she was. 
The askan Moshe came with a few others and began intensive pressure to give over the child for adoption. They dressed the baby in beautiful clothes, and began a psychological war of attrition.
Tal: They said I cost them a lot of money, and I don’t have a way to raise the child, and that I have to leave her and return to Israel without it. I started to cry. I was so weak. They suddenly said, “You’ll raise the child in a neighborhood with drug dealers and prostitutes, you don’t have money to return, and we can’t pay for it because you cost us too much.” I said I’m not ready to hear, and the girl is returning with us.”
Tal left the ward and signed release papers, while one of the men pushed her in the wheelchair. Moshe held the baby in the carseat. Tal got into the car and saw Moshe put the carseat with the baby into another car. It happened in seconds. Tal: The next day a lawyer came and said she was having me sign an English document, saying that I have 45 days to prove that I am able to raise the child, and then I can get her back. I signed, and then they put me on a plane to Israel, even though the doctor had forbidden me from traveling.
Reporter: Maybe you signed adoption papers?
Tal: No. They said it was a document saying I need 45 days to bring proof that I can raise the child.
She sent messages, tried to call the askan involved, for nothing. Just before the 45 days were up, Tal filed a police complaint.
“I was sure that Israel would do all it could to return the baby to me.” After a few months she heard the case was turned over to the American authorities. The justice ministry decided to close the case and have not said way.

Noa Haríf lives in the US a few years and got pregnant. A haredi askan named Moshe approached her. 
Noa: I went to a local hospital for tests, and in the afternoon I got a call from Moshe. He said he helps Jewish women in trouble and asked to meet. Moshe asked whether the father was Jewish. I didn’t answer. They offered to help with everything and stand by whatever decision I made. 
Moshe gave her $2000 for rent, and offered to help. He was suspiciously friendly. He called all the time. But I didn’t really cooperate because I was suspicious. 
He arranged another meeting with Noa and started to pressure her, saying that she has no one, her parents are traditional and won’t accept the pregnancy, and offered her lodging with a family that he would choose, and “if you don’t want to raise the child yourself, you can do a big mitzvah.”
Noa responded with shock, and said she had no intention of putting up the baby for adoption. Moshe changed tactics and stopped calling, and asked her to return the money. Then a family from Brooklyn called her. Noa was curious and offered to meet them. They offered $100 just for the meeting.The woman cried hysterically, said she had no children and appealed to Noa’s conscience. She gave her $100 and said there was a lot more where that came from. “Naturally I did not meet them again.” 
The reporters have received similar accounts from relatives, and from a woman who hosted a young pregnant woman in exchange for funds for expenses, received from a haredi askan. The mothers from whom the babies are taken receive money, but also the host families, and others in the chain. The sums add up to millions of dollars.
Tal is now married and the mother of three. She managed to contact the family that hosted her and begged them to send her pictures of the child. She did receive a few, as well as a drawing that the girl supposedly drew. It was of a loving mother and daughter. 
We reached the couple that allegedly received Tal’s daughter. The father was surprised by the call and the allegations. It could be that he acted appropriately, or at least thought that he was adopting a child by an acceptable process. “Tell her that everything is okay,” he said. “We’ll send her an email update.”
Did you know that the baby was taken against her will?
Adoptive father: I don’t know, and don’t understand what you are trying to tell me.
Did you pay for the girl?
Adoptive father: I don’t know anything about money. I don’t want to talk about it because it’s personal, and I don’t know who you are. Tal should send me an email, even in Hebrew, and I’ll translate.”
Tal wants to send one message. “I want my daughter. I want to hug her, and raise her with my children. Maybe now it’s less in her interest, because she’s used to her new family, but I want to meet her, to know her, to be in touch with her. I’m her mother.”
Shusheim from the Efrat organization welcomes an investigation by the police.
The police say they took a lot of testimony, approached the US authorities for help, and the justice ministry closed the file in 2010.


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Most Popular Israeli Girls’ Names 2014

Baby twin girls in onesies with Hebrew writing

Credit: Yael Lockerman

The Israeli Central Bureau for Statistics announced the ten most popular names for 2014. It usually takes them a whole year to analyze them.  Biblical and animal names dominate the list, along with two-syllable names. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Noa. This biblical name has been the number one girl’s name for 16 years, but it’s starting to lose popularity. I haven’t come across a good explanation of the name’s meaning.
  2. Tamar. Another classic biblical name, meaning date.
  3. Shira. A modern Hebrew name meaning song.
  4. Maya. Not a Hebrew name.
  5. Yael. A biblical name that has never gone out of style, meaning mountain goat.
  6. Adele/Edel. These babies are named after the singer or the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of hasidism. Edel is Yiddish for sweet or gentle.
  7. Talia. Lamb.
  8. Avigayil (Abigail). Father of joy. A biblical name that has made a comeback in recent years.
  9. Ayala. Female gazelle. Biblical name that has made a comeback in recent years.
  10. Sarah. Princess. Biblical name popular in religious circles, especially haredi communities.

Miriam was the most popular name for Moslem girls, while Sarah and Esther topped the list in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, respectively. Maya was number one in Tel Aviv.

See more name posts on A Mother in Israel:

Dreaming about Israeli Baby Boy Names

Israeli Baby Boy Name Help: June 2015

Israeli Baby Boy Name Help: March 2015

Israeli Baby Girl Name Suggestions Needed: January 2015

Israeli Baby Boy Name Help, December 2014

Israeli Baby Girl Name Help, December 2014

Israeli Baby Name Help, February 2014

Top 20 Israeli Baby Girl Names for 2012

Top 20 Israeli Baby Boy Names for 2012

Israeli Baby Girl Name Help, November 2013

Israeli Baby Name Help, June 2013

Modern Israeli Baby Girl Names, April 2013

Israeli Baby Boy Name Help–starting with “R”

Israeli Baby Name Queries, December 2012

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Boys, 2010

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Girls, 2010

Popular Israeli Names for Girls (October 2008)

Popular Israeli Names for Boys (October 2008)

Help This Reader Choose a Hebrew Baby Name (November 2009)

More Popular Israeli Baby Names (April 2010)

Help Readers Choose an Israeli Baby Name (June 2010)

Israeli Baby Name Help Needed (November 2010)

Needed: Israeli Baby Girl Name Suggestions (September 2010)

Unusual Israeli Baby Names

Get more baby name ideas at the Facebook page for A Mother in Israel.

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Motherhood, Careers, and Guilt at Tzohar Panel

Right to left: Divon, Shilat, Hirshfeld, Katan, Moyal, Zilbershatz. Credit: Hannah Katsman

This article appeared in the “In Jerusalem” supplement of the Jerusalem Post on March 25, 2016.

Balancing motherhood and careers, with the help of Tzohar

By Hannah Katsman

Since the early days of the kibbutz, Israeli mothers have been working outside the home. Yet the conflict between motherhood and career has become more acute in recent years, as women take on higher-level, management positions.

A group of women from the national- religious sector, where women marry young and often have large families, met in January to discuss the topic at an event sponsored by the rabbinic organization Tzohar.

The panel, “Motherhood, Careers and Guilty Consciences,” took place at the Petah Tikva Art Museum. Tzofia Hirshfeld, Tzohar’s director of external communications, sought out female professionals from the sector who excelled in the fields of academics, the arts, medicine, journalism and society.

Tzohar trains Orthodox rabbis to perform weddings, funerals and other religious rites for Israel’s secular population.

They strictly follow Jewish law, yet avoid alienating secular Jews from religious practice. According to Hirshfeld, Tzohar’s 420 rabbis throughout the country perform 4,500 weddings each year, about 10 percent of all weddings performed through the rabbinate.

“We held the event both to recognize the wives for their contribution to their husbands’ volunteer efforts,” Hirshfeld explained, “and to energize and empower them on a personal level.”

Hirshfeld opened the panel with the statistic that 74% of married Israeli mothers are employed, and giving some insights on the Torah’s view of work. In Genesis, God assigns work to Adam as a punishment. Yet the Torah also presents the work of the building the Temple, as described in the Book of Exodus, as a source of inspiration.

Panelist Yehudit Shilat, a founder of the Takana forum that addresses sexual harassment and abuse within the religious community, suggested that the conflict is entrenched in society.

“Why do mothers who don’t work out of the home say that they don’t work?” she asked. “The panel should have asked why most women have two careers. There is constant conflict.”

The reason, Shilat argued, is that we romanticize motherhood instead of seeing it as a job like any other.

“According to the Mishna, a mother can even hire someone to breastfeed her baby. Motherhood has meaning, but it doesn’t have to be so extreme. Society creates the dilemma by making motherhood the essence of a woman’s existence, and we then judge ourselves on that basis. We don’t stay up at night If our careers are not perfect.”

Dr. Chana Katan, an author and specialist in gynecology, obstetrics, and fertility, differed.

“I see the conflict as internal, and not connected to society,” Katan said. “The kids won’t lose out if a mother chooses a career, but experiences of motherhood cannot be replaced. Motherhood is an essential part of a woman’s essence, and I don’t want it taken from me.”

Katan trained as a doctor while raising 11 children, and found the 36-hour shifts away from her children traumatic.

“Back then, all of my friends were at home much more than I,” she said. “But today, mothers pile on more careers.”

Hili Moyal, editor of the women’s magazine Nashim, described her evolution as a mother.

“My mother was a career woman and I wanted to do the opposite,” she explained. “I had an ideal of staying home with my children and did so with fussy babies and postpartum depression. Eventually I started working from home, and it took me even longer to consider leaving the house for work.”

Now, Moyal finds that she enjoys the time with her children much more than when she was home with them full time.

“I turn off the phone. It’s also nice not to live with overdraft. Instead of talking about the price we pay, we should look at the gains.”

Prof. Yaffa Silbershatz, on the National Committee for Planning and Budgets in Higher Education, who was born in 1953, has seen a dramatic shift.

“My husband was born in Europe, and he expects the food to be served to him,” she explained. “Tonight I left him dinner, but he wasn’t happy about it. Ours was the first generation to be born in Israel, and no one taught us how to both go out to work and be traditional.”

She sees her own children having a more equal partnership with their partners.

“The discussion has changed, for better or worse. I feel that we are progressing to the point where the dilemma belongs not only to the wife, but to the couple.”

Moyal noted that Israel is still a very patriarchal society. “When my husband picks up the children from kindergarten, people tell him what a good father he is and how his wife works very hard.”

Chava Divon, screenwriter for the popular sitcom Srugim, agreed that fathers today are more involved, but mothers don’t want to give up on motherhood.

The only panelist to bring up the status she enjoys as a career woman, she noted, “Once I got dragged out of the house, my high profile gave me a new identity. It’s hard to give it up.”

Shilat, like the other panelists with older children, recalled a time when mothers had it easier. “I worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and went to sleep from 2 to 4 p.m. Then I went out. Nowadays there are no jobs like that. All my friends were teachers. In the Western world, there are no boundaries, and it’s a crime for families. Children need someone to be at home.”

Shilat would like to see a law that allows one parent of dual-career couples to end work at 3 p.m.

“Our current model, based on the US’s eight-hour work day, only fits a society with one main earner in the household. It’s fatal to this dilemma.”

Katan urged young mothers to set priorities and get help, especially for the difficult afternoon hours, but not to forget the big picture.

“Choose a career where you can decide when to invest more or less time,” Katan advised. “It’s not black or white. But a woman who misses her chance to give birth loses out.”

After the panel, Celia Sherwin, a coach on balance for women, provided practical tips to the audience.

“Women set their standards too high,” she warned. “It’s no longer enough for women to be everywhere, but they have to be the best at it. And it’s not just working and mothering – women have to eat healthy, and work out. They are told they should be able to juggle everything easily, yet they find themselves dropping the balls and feeling guilty.”

Sherwin passed out a chart with eight areas, including career, couplehood, health and fitness, personal growth, friendships, culture, family and financial stability. She suggested rating each area according to level of satisfaction from 1 to 5, then picking one area to work on effecting change.

The evening ended on a light note, with a performance by the religious female stand-up artist Noya Mendel.

Yael Maizels, a mother of four from Ariel and biology instructor at the local university, came because of her husband’s work with Tzohar.

“I listened closely to Silbershatz, as we are both academics,” Maizels told In Jerusalem after the event. “Young women in academia, especially the sciences, have a more severe conflict than most women.

About 70% of the students in my department are women, but only 30% of the professors. The ones who want to raise families drop out early on. In the humanities, it’s possible to start later, like [wife of Har Etzion yeshiva head Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein] Tova Lichtenstein, who received a doctorate in social work after her children were grown.”

Lichtenstein went on to have an influential career in academia and public policy.

Katan provided an optimistic note for struggling young mothers, reminding them that this stage eventually ends.

“My relationship with my adult children is the greatest reward.”

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The dangers of rolling back the core educational curriculum

The following appeared in the Jerusalem Post supplement, “In Jerusalem,” on July 29, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

The dangers of rolling back the core educational curriculum at haredi boys’ schools.

By Hannah Katsman

Haredi walking

Haredi man walking. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

I recently ran into a speech pathologist who teaches university students. The university runs a program for haredi women, who learn the same material as their secular counterparts. My friend found that the haredi women struggled with the level of reading and writing required to attain an academic degree. “These students are supposed to be the best students in the haredi world, with the highest ability,” she said. “But they can barely keep up with the work, because of poor language skills and limited vocabulary.”

I thought about that conversation when I read about the scrapping of the 2013 law to withhold funds from schools that don’t offer a core curriculum of secular and Jewish studies. The law, introduced by the Yesh Atid Party in 2013, was part of a series of measures to help haredim in Israel join the workforce and become more integrated in society. Last week, with Yesh Atid in the opposition, United Torah Judaism demanded the overturning of the law in exchange for UTJ’s remaining in the fragile government coalition.

The status quo, implemented in the early days of the state, granted autonomy to the secular, national-religious, ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors to run their own schools and teach the subjects they chose, but schools in each system had at their base a standard curriculum. This ensured a common knowledge base for the entire population and provided all children, whatever their background, with the basic skills necessary to communicate with each other and with various authorities, and to work or continue on to a degree as they chose.

The haredi school system segregates boys and girls, with the boys studying Talmud and Jewish studies for most of the day. Yet most of the schools in the haredi system offer all or part of the core curriculum, known in Hebrew as liba (core). Currently, this includes Bible studies, Jewish heritage (for Jewish schools), history, citizenship, Hebrew, math, science and English. Only one category of boys’ haredi schools, patur (exempt), serving about 40,000 pupils, receives an exemption from the core curriculum requirement. Studies show that schools in the exempt category offer only three to five hours of these subjects, compared to 20-27 required hours in the public system.

Benayahu Yom Tov, 28, of Ashdod, attended a school affiliated with the Shas Party. Although Shas schools now teach the core curriculum, Yom Tov learned arithmetic at a most basic level, and no English. His son attends a haredi school that offers the core curriculum and high academic standards. Yet he opposes withholding funds from schools that don’t offer the core.

“I love the core curriculum,” said Yom Tov. “But the government should not use its political clout to force education on a minority group. If the haredim required secular children to learn Talmud, we would call it coercion.

“At any rate,” he continued, “the law only addressed schools through eighth grade. Since children in these schools won’t continue to high school, nothing is accomplished.”

Yom Tov, who despite his lack of secular studies earns a five-figure salary working with at-risk youth, is about to embark on a three-month accelerated course for those in his field. “I expect to catch up to an eighth-grade level in secular studies,” he admitted.

Haredim are quick to point to success stories of those among them who succeed in law, finance or computers despite a lack of secular education. Some succeed through advantages such as growing up in an English-speaking home or getting extra tutoring. But that doesn’t apply to the majority, especially graduates of hassidic schools who study in Yiddish and struggle to communicate in Hebrew. Adina Bar-Shalom, head of a haredi women’s college and the daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has mentioned English as a subject that is particularly hard to learn as an adult, and the reason that many haredim fail at academic studies.

While haredi leaders like to say that Talmud study develops reasoning skills and concentration, they know it’s not enough to make up for early training in secular studies.

Statistics from the Taub Center found that 16 percent more haredi women than men are employed, in those without academic degrees; this is due to the advantage of the secular studies that most haredi girls receive. So when men overcome the lack of early education and receive a degree, the employment gap between men and women with degrees lowers to only 5% . But a whopping 51% of haredi men who enroll in degree programs drop out, compared to only 30% of women.

Not only do men have to catch up more, they start later when they are supporting their families, leaving little time for study. The payoff is less too, as the men have fewer remaining working years.

While many new academic programs for haredim have opened up, the rate of haredi men and women with academic degrees has been gradually dropping since the 1970s. Young adults today have the lowest rates of secondary and higher education compared to older age groups in the sector. With the government denying basic education to children, the situation can only worsen.

Avi Lazar, 35, of Jerusalem, grew up attending a hassidic school in Toronto and ultimately attended public school. “I was good at essays, but math was horrible. I never got it. My grades were so poor that the guidance counselor told me not to apply to college so I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

By working hard in 12th grade, Lazar managed to get into three schools, graduating from York University with a degree in political science. “But it’s still difficult even for me to find work in Israel without a professional degree. The government is making a huge mistake by not keeping those doors open for children.”

Withholding basic education from haredi boys is a deliberate effort to insulate the community and keep its members dependent on the leadership, which can then brag that it is meeting the community’s interests by getting more funds for yeshivot.

Non-haredim recognize the value of secular education for job success. The haredim recognize it too, and encourage it for their girls. We hear complaints about the drag of the growing haredi sector on the economy, yet complicity in the Knesset keeps growing numbers of families in poverty, and denies children basic rights. It is hard enough for young adults today to find their way in today’s economy, even without being hobbled by the lack of elementary skills.

Over-sensitivity to the value of Torah study at the expense of other skills and subjects will deny young people educational and economic opportunities, and keep them dependent on government handouts engineered by their leaders.

The Jews are known as the People of the Book, who have always recognized the value of education. It’s frustrating to see a cynical manipulation of that value by haredi leaders, who tout the card of Torah study against those who wish to provide basic educational opportunities for all members of Israeli society.

Note: The print version of the article contained an incorrect statistic for the number of haredi women who drop out of academic studies.

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