Hareidi soldiers
Hareidi soldiersIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Hundreds of hareidi-religious young men will don IDF uniforms for the first time on Thursday morning. They are part of a growing trend toward voluntary hareidi IDF service that has led to roughly 3,500 hareidi soldiers serving at any given time.

The IDF hopes that number will grow to 10,000 within the next five years.

A new poll published by the IDF has revealed positive attitudes toward service among hareidi soldiers. An overwhelming majority of respondents – 90% - said it is important to them that they excel in their role in the IDF.

Eight-five percent said they are proud to serve in the IDF. Seventy-two percent said they believe their work in the IDF benefits them now, and 76% percent believe that their work in the IDF will prove beneficial to them in the future.

Among soldiers in the Shachar program specifically, 79% expressed satisfaction with their unit, and 73% said the IDF was considerate of their desires during the process of enlistment and placement within the IDF.

Only 36% agreed with the statement, “Someone who doesn’t serve in the IDF is as good of a citizen as someone who does serve in the IDF.” Three-fourths agreed with the statement, “The IDF is highly admired by Israeli society.”

The government has begun the process of creating new legislature that will require hareidi-religious men to enlist in the IDF, after decades in which most were exempt from service under a clause allowing full-time Torah students to defer enlistment.

Rabbis involved in hareidi enlistment program have warned that forced enlistment could have the unwanted effect of reversing the growing popularity of voluntary enlistment.