Soldiers from the Shachar program
Soldiers from the Shachar program PR photo

In two weeks, about fifty haredim will enlist in the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate through the Shahar project, a program aimed at balancing the religous obligations of the haredim and the desire to serve the country, which has already enlisted around 300 haredi youth.

The program was launched in 2007 by then commander of the Israeli Air Force Elazar Shkedy, who looked to the haredim to fill the gaps in the Air Force's technical units. Soldiers ain this program serve as mechanics, computer programmers and electricians.

What makes a haredi unit different from your average IDF unit is that genders never mix in these units - female soldeirs, commanders or instructors are not allowed in the unit. Also, soldiers are given time during the day to pray and learn Torah and all food served is glatt kosher.

"This is a significant increase from the previous recruitment which ended two months ago, during which 29 haredi soldiers enlisted," said Yossi Cohen, head of the Shahar project. "Those soldiers, some of whom passed an English course over two months, have already been integrated into military bases, where they are taking the proper courses for the role they fill during their military service."

Cohen said that every day in the afternoon, the soldiers will learn Daf Yomi (one page of Gemara every day) about the laws of Chanukah. The end of their basic training will coincide with their finishing of the masechet (Gemara topic).

Most of the soldiers are between the ages of 22 to 27, and after they complete the two years of service, they recieve a certificate highlighting the technical trade they mastered and also receive resources to help them complete further studies.