Haredi enlistment falls short of quota

Haredi enlistment in the IDF nears mark, but enlistment in national service woefully shy of quota.

Raphael Poch ,

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Arutz Sheva

While the number of haredi men who have enlisted in the IDF has hit close to its projected goal for 2015, the number of haredi participants in the National Service program fell woefully shy of their projected target number for the year. The IDF saw some 2,280 haredi men enlist over the second half of 2015, which came close to the 2,300 that were mandated by law. The national service program, however, saw only 421 haredi men join, a far cry from the 900 required for the six month span. 

In light of this, the government has decided to establish an inter-ministerial commission and is tasking it with encouraging enlistment and helping the haredi populace arrive at the established goals. At the head of the commission will be Director of the Defense Ministry Major General (Res.) Dan Harel. The commission will also include members of the Education Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Human Resources Division of the IDF and others. 

One of the suggestions that has arisen thus far is to increase the financial incentives for haredi enlistment in national service and to give them preferred treatment during the hiring process for government positions. Spokesperson's office for the Defense Ministry stated that the commission will hand in a report of its findings by the end of March.       

Director of the National Service Enlistment Program for Haredim, Saar Shalom Gerabi, told Haaretz during an interview that he and his employees realize that they are not meeting their quota. According to Gerabi "If there is no personal incentive for each individual to join up, why would they come? He can stay wherever he is and get an exemption." Currently the financial incentive for a haredi man to stay and learn in Kolel (higher Torah academy) is more than the incentive for a haredi man to join national service. Where in the IDF, a haredi man who is married and has one child can receive up to 5,500 shekel as a salaried compensation, whereas a person in the same situation would only receive 1,800 in national service. 

Gerabi said that he notified the government of the issues and that the enlistment quota would not be met. 

Currently, there are over 5,000 haredi men serving in the IDF as soldiers, officers or career personnel. The IDF is investing a lot of time and effort in enlisting haredi soldiers and is opening specialized units to meet the needs and religious requirements of the soldiers as well as conducting targeted marketing at the haredi population. Last week a video claiming that enlisting in the IDF would increase a haredi man's marriage prospects made waves in Israel, and was one example of the IDF's targeted marketing of this sector to encourage enlistment.