Report: Charedim Not Working Is Danger To Population Growth


Bloomberg news agency released a comprehensive article on Sunday with regards to the Chareidi population in Israel, Kikar reports. This came following recent statements being made by Israeli government officials, including one from the Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher, concerning the employment of Chareidi men. “The population growth in Israel is in danger because the Chareidim do not work” reads the headline of the article.

“Israel can not tolerate a Chareidi population growth if they won’t work; it cannot last.” Fischer said less than two weeks ago at a meeting with foreign journalists in Jerusalem.

Bloomberg’s review noted that nearly 60% of the Chareidi men do not work, and that they are the population with the highest birth rate after the Bedouins.

“The Chareidim enjoy public assistance totaling hundreds of millions of shekels a year,” writes Bloomberg. “About 50 thousand of them are exempt from military service, which means they do not participate pushing forward technology in Israel and helping change the economy. About 70% of Charedi men aged 30-34, are in kollel. In London, for example, this rate stands at 17%.”

Bloomberg also brought the story of M. Lincker, 39-year-old Chareidi man in kollel who makes do with public assistance and his wife’s salary she gets for being a teacher. He said: “We live in a Jewish state and provide a spiritual energy that is necessary to continue to exist. It is no less important than the economy.”

Regarding the issue of exemption from military service, Bloomberg brings a statement from M. Schwartz, a 28-year-old Chareidi, who said simply, that “many Chareidim see the army as a non kosher environment. There are a lot of girls there, and an atmosphere of military pride which is not something the Chareidim see as appropriate.”

(Feivel Katz – YWN Israel)


  1. Oy this is the issue we face –

    On one hand, too many Jews in Israel and around the world do not value Talmud Torah. On the other hand, basic economics do indeed inform us that the charedi lifestyle, especially in Israel, is not sustainable. Furthermore, we do have to take into consideration the kidush hashem of having people devoted to keeping Torah alive, while not forgetting the chilul hashem of having tons of Jews (many religious ones included) view charedim as parasites that take government handouts while not contributing back to the general society through army service and raising the GDP through working real jobs.

  2. I think that it is time that we realize that the ‘kollel’ way of life should not be applied to the masses (whether it be in Eretz Yisroel or Chutz La’Aretz.)

    Let’s think about it – yeshivos in Europe like Volozshin were tiny in comparison to today’s yeshivos and they required the bochurim to pass extremely difficult entrance exams before being allowed to attend. Anyone short of a huge gaon was not encouraged or allowed to be in a full time learning program (especially once married). The communities simply could not afford to have every boy learning.

    While today B”H we are more affluent overall than we were in the shtetl, it still seems to make sense to only encourage those boys who have the zits fleish to sit and learn and those who will actually produce and give back to the community to stay in kollel.

  3. “Not working” – do they worry that college professors and college students are “not working”??? The yeshiva “industry” is a major source of employments, and a major producer of foreign exchange since it attracts both rich (by Israeli standards) students and donations from other countries. Ignoring various “spiritual” or “halachic” aspects, from a macroeconomic perspective, the yeshiva world is a major source of livlihood for both the frum community and Eretz Yisrael as a whole.

    That the hilonim consider someone who is learning or teaching Torah to be “unemployed”, as opposed to someone who is learning or teaching Shakespeare or Greek philosophy (or even Jewish studies, if in a hiloni university), suggest the problem is the bigotry of those doing the complaining.

    This isn’t to say every individual student or teacher is making what is for them, an optimal choice. However from an economic perspective, the yeshivos are helping the overall Israeli economy and should be seen as leading source of wealth (at least in terms of earning foreign exchange, and importing wealth into Israel, which has a substantial multiplier effect).

  4. I am Charedi and I want to work. I have been unemployed for 8 months. I have to shnor for money in order to buy bread and milk. Mortgage? months behind. Bills? way behind.

    Why would a US trained lawyer be unemployed for so long? Because on some of the interviews that I have had, the minute the person sees my beard, payos and long black coat, the interview is effectively over.

    If you think there is no discrimination against charedim in the workplace, you are foolish.

    Because there are so few good jobs here if you are anglo and I am OVER qualified for most of them.

    Hashem Yirachem.

  5. How much is too much. I am glad to help support people to sit and learn; it is my responsibility as a Jew. The Jews have never been better financial and can and should support cheders, and kollels. Like what the charedi add to the society through gemach and general good deeds. You can afford a smaller vacation, less gashmius and more ruchnaius

  6. Response to #3

    I think that your analogy is faulty. No one claims that a rebbe in a yeshiva or a rav of a shul is unemployed. Everyone understands that teaching whether it be “greek philosophy” (as you gave as your example) or gemara is something is a real occupation.

    However, learning in kollel is most certainly under the rubric of being unemployed. In other words, a guy that gets handouts from his father in law, the yeshiva, the government and rich Jews in order to put food on the table is unemployed and is what that article was referring to.

    As far as students, the accepted (and logical view) is that someone who is studying to further his/her career is not under the unemployed category as he/she is not activley looking for work and is studying towards getting a degree that will help with getting a job later on. Last I checked, Brisk wasn’t offering any accounting or business management courses…

  7. @Baruch-1:

    A chillul Hashem can only occur when somebody does something assur/wrong according to halacha. This can include if s/t is done within the letter of the halcha, but not within the spirit of the halcha.

    How is learning while being supported by somebody else assur, wrong, or not within the spirit of halacha?

  8. #8 asked how is learning while being supported not w/in spirit of halacha. here is a partial quote from the rambam on avos (perek daled; you may also want to take a look at the 10th perek of matnos aniyim)

    דע, כי זה כבר אמר: אל תעשה התורה קרדום לחפור בה, כלומר: אל תחשבה כלי לפרנסה, ובאר ואמר שכל מי שיהנה בזה העולם בכבוד תורה שהוא כורת נפשו מחיי העולם הבא. והעלימו בני אדם עיניהם מזו הלשון הגלויה, והשליכוה אחרי גוום, ונתלו בפשטי מאמרים שלא הבינום – אני אבארם – והטילו להם חוקים על היחידים ועל הקהילות, ועשו את המינויים התוריים לחוק מכסים, והביאו בני אדם לסבור שטות גמורה, שזה צריך ומחוייב, לעזור לחכמים ולתלמידים ולאנשים העוסקים בתורה ותורתן אומנותן. וכל זה טעות, אין בתורה מה שיאמת אותו, ולא רגל שישען עליה בשום פנים. לפי שאנו אם נעיין בתולדות החכמים, זכרם לברכה, לא נמצא אצלם לא הטלת חובות על בני אדם, ולא קיבוץ ממון לישיבות המרוממות הנכבדות, ולא לראשי גלויות ולא לדיינין ולא למרבצי תורה ולא לאחד מן הממונים ולא לשאר האנשים, אלא נמצא קהילותיהם כולן יש בהם עני בתכלית, ועשיר רב הממון בתכלית, וחלילה לה’ שאומר שהם לא היו גומלי חסד ונותני צדקה, אלא זה העני אילו פשט ידו לקחת היו ממלאים ביתו זהב ומרגליות, אבל הוא לא היה עושה כן, אלא מסתפק במלאכה שיתפרנס ממנה, בין ברווח בין בדוחק, ובז למה שבידי בני אדם, הואיל והתורה מנעתו מזה.