Amid high tensions over the integration of hareidi-religious Jews into the IDF and the workforce, Israel's Technion Institute of Technology has inaugurated a mechina (university preparatory) program specifically designed to attract more hareidim into its hi-tech programs.
While hareidi schools are supposed to teach 55%-75% "core studies," including science and math, the website No Camels reports that many hareidi schools do not follow the guidelines, teaching a curriculum that emphasizes Torah study to the omission of secular studies.
The Technion's new 18 month program aims to bring hareidi students up to speed on subjects they may be behind on, and allow them to continue studies at the university. In doing so, the program seeks to track into the workforce greater numbers of hareidim.
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Chair of the Knesset Lobby for Job Integration in the Hareidi community, spoke in support of the Technion program.
"There is now a very high percentage, higher than ever before of first graders who are hareidim," noted Lipman. "Twelve years down the road, we are talking about a high percentage of first graders who are not receiving a basic general education, are not being trained to enter the workforce."
Lipman's comments can be seen in the following video produced by Technion:
“It is very important to understand that the hareidim who do go into the academia and go into the workforce are very brave, because the pressures in their community are against them doing so, and therefore those who are coming are coming from a position of weakness, both economically and socially," states Lipman.
Lipman asserts that hareidi students at the Technion can fully integrate their religious and professional lives, saying "they are provided with an opportunity to remain haredim, but also to receive an education at the highest of levels, which will then bring them into the workforce at the highest of levels. And in doing this, we will be saving this community from poverty and broader Israel from an economic catastrophe. I can think of no better investment for the future of Israel."
Previously Lipman has debated with hareidi MKs over the issue of hareidi IDF enlistment. Yair Lapid, the head of Lipman's party, has been very aggressively pushing the hareidi community to enlist and join the workforce.