Op-Ed: Charedim Unfit For The IDF


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The following is an Op-Ed written by Menachem Gsheid for Ynet:

For ages, it has been clear to us, the haredim, that we are not really wanted in the army en masse. They certainly don’t want to see us rising to senior positions. Our lifestyle is different and is incommensurate with the IDF atmosphere, slang, and conduct. We’re not really “one of the guys.” This is also the reason why we have no chance of integrating into the army as individuals sent to the various units.

Let there be no misunderstandings: In my view and in the view of my friends, anyone who does not study the Torah throughout the day must contribute to society, whether through military service or through national service at hospitals, non-profit groups or any other appropriate framework that benefits the public.

Personally, after I completed my studies and started to work, and after I did not join the army (because I was overweight,) I decided to contribute one day a week for the benefit of society. Ever since then, every Tuesday morning I report to the office of Israel Prize laureate Dr. Rabbi Elimelech Firer and accompany him from early morning hours to late in the evening.

And so, for more than a decade now, I feel that I contribute to society, while also contributing to myself. Thousands of my friends are doing it at other non-profit organizations without being officially recognized.

I will never forget the experience of going through my IDF tests as an adolescent. The slang that was used along with the cursing was more than I heard since the day I was born to that day. Indeed, those who boldly stand up and speak out bluntly are right: The haredim aren’t really fit for military service.

I have no doubt that fans of cheap populism will speak out now and slam these words, which many good people know are true. Meanwhile, some politicians will continue to utter hateful words, because this hatred motivates their actions and they won’t let the facts confuse them.

They shall continue to stick to their theories, just like they will continue to demand that the haredim head out to work, without checking how many are already working and how many want to work but can’t, because they did not serve in the IDF or because their studies are not recognized as an academic degree.

Indeed, I will not be surprised to see these politicians slamming those who utter the truth I uttered above. Too many people among our decision-makers are concerned by this truth, and they will aim to subject it to their customary “targeted assassination” campaign.

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(Source: Ynet)


  1. I can appreciate what this fellow is saying, but I think the conclusion he drew is incorrect. As a result of all the foul, disgusting language he heard, he says…
    “The haredim aren’t really fit for military service.”

    I disagree.
    It’s NOT that haredim aren’t really fit for military service, it’s that certain ways of speaking and doing things in the army aren’t really fit or appropriate in a Jewish army.
    In many areas, such as tohar haneshek (purity of arms), efforts to maintain shmiras Shabbas (in general and especially for frum soldiers) the army does a great job.
    Nevertheless, as this Yid tells us, there are areas that seriously need fixing.
    If a frum Yid’s car breaks, he doesn’t conclude that driving is not appropriate for frum Yidden. He goes and fixes the car. THAT is what is needed to be done with the chesronos in the way the army does things.

  2. Chareidim who alreary work — and who are looked upon as shkotsim by the other Chareidim. Chareidim who want to work and can’t because their studies are not recognized? No, Chareidim who can’t get a normal job because they have not learnt the skills needed for that as the Chareidi educational system in Israel does not allow it.

  3. I hope that many non-religious Jews will read this.

    All of us need to back off. The IDF needs to allow more units that are Charedi-friendly. The government needs to accept that rabbinic ordination is at least equivalent to an undergraduate degree. And charedim need to accept that the IDF rabbis are real rabbis whose halachic rulings can be relied upon (at least for those serving in the Army), and that army service, working for a living, and pursuing secular education are appropriate for at least some people.

  4. Set up more charedi units within the IDF and then the language and culture within such units will be appropriate for charedim. While charedim sharpen their mental skills better than their chiloni counterparts, charedim also need to acquire marketable skills like math, English, Hebrew, etc. A good place they should try out is Jerusalem College of Technology which has one campus dedicated to charedi males in Yerushalaim called Machon Naveh and one campus dedicated to charedi females in Ramat Gan called Machon Lustig.