Where do modern orthodox haredim part

Ultra Orthodox Jews

• Anyone who knows at 18 what they will do professionally at 50 is either a career-keen, heir to a family company, an artist or a criminal. None of this applies to Yehuda, who does not like to give his last name. As a student at a Jewish religious school in Israel, he does not have to work or do military service (the government has just announced that it will change the latter). He is one of around 800,000 so-called ultra-orthodox Jews who spend their days expecting the Messiah. The state pays them alimony for this. From the perspective of many Israelis, Yehuda is doing one thing above all else: nothing. And he will keep doing it for his entire life.

"My life belongs to God and the family," says the young man. And that is worth no less than a job and a career. All morning long he has been sitting in the garden of his Talmud school called Yeshiva in the Jerusalem district of Mea Shearim, where almost exclusively Haredim, God-fearing people, live.

Warning signs on the access roads into the district read: "Do not go on in inappropriate clothing." The women there wear buttoned blouses, ankle-length skirts and wigs on their shaved heads. The men black suits, hats, knee socks and patent leather shoes. Long curls hang from her temples.

Yehuda bends over the Torah open before him, the Hebrew five books of Moses. As he reads line by line, he mumbles the text softly to himself and repeatedly slips his long sidelocks behind his ears. "In this book you will find the solutions to all problems in the world," he whispers reverently. "Even if you can't understand it from the outside and you think I'm crazy."

Crazy? Many secular Israelis see it that way. They consider their devout compatriots to be lazy, while everyone else toil and sometimes risk their lives for the common good: military service for young men lasts three years. Yehuda can expect that he will continue to receive from the state what he needs to live in the future. The Broockdale Institute has calculated: An Orthodox family receives an average of around 530 euros per month. There are also grants for studying at religious schools and grants from foundations. A total of up to 960 euros per month flow into the household of Yehuda's family, which is more than the monthly minimum wage in Israel.

What does an 18-year-old think about, if not about girls and his professional future? Yehuda nods thoughtfully and with the expression of a wise man. "I used to be like those over there too," he says, pointing with his hand to the city center of Jerusalem, where people are working and celebrating. Yehuda doesn't like that anymore because: "I've seen the other world."

In the small land of Israel, the ideas of the orthodox and the secular clash hard. Some pious people today are increasingly calling for gender segregation. Women are supposed to sit in the back of certain buses. Last December, an ultra-Orthodox man spat at an eight-year-old girl because her clothes were "inappropriate" to him. Conversely, the strict believers are suitable as an easily identifiable enemy image. The summer of last year saw the largest social protests in the country's history: up to half a million people demonstrated in several rallies against high rents, prices and social injustice. The banners and chants were directed not only against the Netanyahu government, but also against the Haredim.

Many no longer grant them the privileges they have always enjoyed. Even before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, politics tried to reconcile the interests of the Orthodox with those of the secular Zionist movement. In the interests of the unity of the Jewish state, the strict believers were met with great help. They were considered an insignificant minority and part of the diverse Jewish culture.

With an average of eight children per family, however, the Haredim community has grown significantly. Today around ten percent of the 7.7 million Israelis are among them. According to forecasts, one in five citizens will be a strict believer in 2034 - the cost of their maintenance will rise accordingly.

"Ultra-Orthodox give society as a whole much less than they presume," says Yoel Finkelman, rabbi and expert on Orthodox Judaism. The "rational" rejection of their privileges by the seculars is increasingly accompanied by an "irrational" image of the enemy. "That leads to hatred," says Finkelman.

The extremist idlers are the loudest. But they are distracting the public from another development: the employment rate of devout men has risen noticeably in the past three years. In 2009, almost 39 percent made an acquisition, in 2011 it was almost 46 percent. And for women, the employment rate has now reached almost 60 percent: They work, mostly part-time and for low wages, but more than their men, who study in religious schools during the day.

In order to earn a little extra money here and there, Haredim work in a kind of informal religious economy. For example, they issue certificates for kosher products and services or produce religious scrolls. The fact that the pious contribute little to the gross domestic product is also due to their rejection of military service. Because for many young people, the army is the door to the world of work. There they get useful knowledge and contacts. "The Haredim do not want to join the army, so they stay in the yeshiva. And after years of studying the Torah, they are no longer qualified for the job market," says Ayal Kimhi, vice director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. Last year statisticians examined 3,300 ultra-orthodox high schools: Only 40 percent have English and mathematics on the curriculum at all.

However, some orthodox believers would like to earn money themselves. For example with advertising

The strict believers may largely elude modern life - but business can still be done with them. For example in Bnei Berak, a stronghold of the pious in Tel Aviv. The quarter is barely a kilometer from the cafes and bars of the modern metropolis. There men wear hats, women wigs; Television and the Internet are frowned upon - but newspapers and magazines are allowed. A dream for publishers who still believe in the future of the printed word.

"The pious read a lot. The Bible, religious texts, but also magazines," says Eitan Dobkin as he makes final changes to his PowerPoint presentation before the evening class. For two years he has been leading a branch of study in Advertising for Orthodox. Israel's industry is discovering a new, ever-growing target group. However, it is important to address them correctly. And who knows best how to bring worldly things closer to the pious? The target group itself. By the way, Dobkin calls himself "modern-orthodox".

He grew up in the Bnei Berak neighborhood and has made a career in major advertising companies. He belongs to a new generation of religious Jews. They wanted to have a little more money in their pockets and to realize themselves, says Dobkin. After all, who knows how long the Messiah will be waiting for?

Jewish foundations from abroad, above all from the USA, Great Britain and Canada, promote initiatives to bring the orthodox into wages and bread. The largest of these foundations is called Kemach, which means flour and alludes to a Jewish proverb: without flour there is no Torah - without the Torah there is no flour. The foundation also supports most of the students in Dobkins Advertising Academy: a semester costs 2,600 euros.

Kemach has awarded scholarships to around 6,000 students over the past three years, half of them for vocational schools. There is currently a four-month waiting period for new applicants. The American Wolfson family and British billionaire Leo Noe are said to have given the foundation a budget of ten million US dollars for 2012.

Around 25 women and men, strictly separated according to sex, are currently studying advertising design in Bnei Berak. One of them is 22-year-old Ishai Hizkia. "I am what you call a new Haredi," he says shortly before the seminar begins. Many Haredim only use the Internet with a special filter that protects them from the sight of perishable and reprehensible content - Ishai dares to go online unprotected: "I learn from the new world and get a lot of ideas from the advertising market." He already differs from most pious people with his clothes: the shirt is not white, but colored and checked. Instead of a hat, he only wears an inconspicuous kippah.

However, the professional scope for religiously correct advertising in Bnei Berak is limited. Last year, for example, the ultra-orthodox city administration branded some posters with stickers: illegal advertising. It showed - decently dressed - female teachers who spoke out in favor of a nationwide educational reform. Ishai found the authorities' reaction to be excessive. What doesn't work is the old advertising scam "sex sells" - just because of the craftsman's honor: "It's just not creative to place a naked woman's body." His teacher Dobkin is already promoting Ishai as a potential "Mad Man" for Bnei Berak.

If you want to convince people there of a product, you have to follow many rules. However, there are also opportunities in the peculiarities of the market. Eitan Dobkin flips through magazines and explains a successful advertisement: For example, a dairy company advertises that its goods are "particularly kosher" thanks to a special packaging box. On the next page of the ad, several rabbis give their reports: "These rabbis got a lot of money for it," says Dobkin, and that is also part of the business.

Coca-Cola, Dobkin continued, had for a long time had problems asserting itself in the strictly religious community in Israel: the lemonade was considered too expensive. Until the group advertised with the magic formula "to the holy Shabbe". The campaign was a success - the Haredim believe that God returns all money that man spends in preparation for the Sabbath. On that day, pious Jews put all work on hold. And the not-so-devout ones too.

Andreas Hackl is the Israel and Palestine correspondent for the magazine "Zenith - Zeitschrift für den Orient" and the "Zenith Business Report", which appears in German, English and Russian. "Zenith" is a cooperation partner of brand eins and reports on economic topics from the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.