Haredi Workers Face Discrimination

Haredi men and women are more and more qualified, eager to join the workforce - but some say employers are rejecting them.

Tova Dvorin,

Hareidi women at work
Hareidi women at work
Flash90

Integrating the haredi population into the IDF and the workforce was a central focus of the 19th Knesset, with several politicians - particularly Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett - placing haredi integration at the top of the social agenda.

But what if society itself does not accept the change?

Haredi men and women who do complete a form of National Service or university studies are stunned to find that employers shun them, Walla! News reports Tuesday, as the workforce is increasingly entering the catch-22 of requiring a broad range of experiences for entry-level jobs.

"When I get an interview, they always look me over from head to toe, like I'm a strange bird," Shmuel, a 33 year-old from Ashdod, stated to the news agency. Shmuel served in the IDF and studied electrical engineering, despite some resistance from family and friends.

"Even my previous employer, who made me responsible for production workers, made sure I would feel uncomfortable and signaled me to leave," he lamented. "The feeling is hard: you want to fit in, but no one wants you."

Shmuel feels helpless.

On the one hand, he described his military service and the choice to work as steps that he chose because he realized he should make a decent living; haredi families are typically encouraged to live on stipends from their yeshivas (Torah academies), and often it is not enough. On the other hand, he does not understand the complaints against him and the haredi community for not going to work - because he himself can barely eke out a living despite his choice.

"I feel like I've wasted my time," he said. "Every day I am in contact with a long list of job placement centers for the haredi sector, but all the job offers involvs excessive requirements as experience in fields related to the profession, things which I have no chance of having."

Tzvika Moskovitz, 26, finished part of his high school diploma in the haredi sector and then served in IDF intelligence. But since his release 10 months ago, he, too, has been struggling to find a job - and he has a family to support.

"I sent my resume to all sorts of workplaces, I have no particular preference," he said. "But as time went on I realized that I don't have the privilege to work in jobs that involve working weekends or in places that aren't fit for a haredi lifestyle."

Moskovitz, too, says he feels unwanted.

"I had to go to reserve duty, sometimes for a long period of time, and when I get back, they make me feel like I'm not welcome anymore," he said. 'I'm sure that the fact I'm haredi contributed to this."

Not only men are being discriminated against. Tehila Aton, 26, graduated last year with a degree in Business Administration, despite the demands of being a wife and mother to two children. But she has now been looking for work for a year and a half.

The long limbo has encouraged her husband to shy away from academic studies, she said.

"He thought to go to school, but after seeing that I have no job [...] he changed his mind and he thought it was a waste of time and especially money," she stated.

According to a March 2014 survey, commissioned by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there is significant discrimination against haredi workers. 30% of respondents expressed reluctance to work with a haredi man and over a third of employers (37%) expressed a reluctance to employ haredi men.




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