MembersSlow and Steady: The Key to Orthodox Jewish Integration

Israel’s Orthodox community is changing, but aggressive liberal politics threaten to reverse the process

By Tsvi Sadan | | Topics: SOCIETY, Orthodox Jews
It's no longer uncommon to find Orthodox Jewish women competing for top hi-tech jobs. Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

According to Avigdor Liberman, former Minister of Defense and head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, the reason he refused to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition following the April 9 election, thus leaving Netanyahu without a majority and triggering a second national election, had everything to do with Orthodox Jewish men serving in the IDF. Liberman stood firm on his insistence that Netanyahu support the “Enlistment Law” that would cancel near-automatic military exemptions for anyone enrolled in yeshiva (Jewish seminary). But enlistment is just a small part of the bigger issue of Orthodox integration into wider Israeli society.

Israel’s Orthodox Jewish community, much of which still bears the stench of anti-Zionism, has created what can be best described as religious ghettos where they manage their own affairs as if living in a void. Orthodox political parties do join the Israeli government, but almost solely for utilitarian reasons.

Exempting young Orthodox men from military service is a long-standing status quo that initially gained consensus due to the fact that the number of enrolled yeshiva students claiming the...

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