With charedi population swelling, Israel seeks ways to put them to work
JERUSALEM – At Israel’s first college for the charedi Orthodox, lectures on social work and computer programming are conducted just down the hall from a pair of classrooms transformed into a nursery for the students’ babies.
The average female student here — women compose a majority of the 1,100 student body at the Jerusalem Charedi College — will have two babies in the course of her four years of study.
It is one of many indications of Israel’s large and rapidly growing charedi population. Now comprising nearly 10 percent of Israel’s residents, the community is expected to double its numbers in the next decade.
JERUSALEM – On the No. 3 bus line in Jerusalem, women passengers pay their fare and walk directly to the back to find a seat.
Men, most of them charedi Orthodox with long sidecurls that brush the shoulders of their black wool suits, sit in the front section. Behind them, following a space of about two feet separated by the rear doors of the bus, sit the women and girls.
The Arab driver tersely explains protocol as he begins his route through a string of largely religious neighborhoods toward the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
HERZLIYA, Israel – Soon after Israel itself was born, it began investing significant resources in development assistance in Africa.
Israel’s official development work there waned over the decades, but in recent years Africa again has become a target for Israeli development work by nonprofit organizations and corporations. Particularly in areas like water resource management, agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, and telemedicine, experts say Israel has much to offer the developing continent.
“In the same way we are a high-tech power, we can become a development-tech power, because our problems are their problems and our expertise fits their needs,” said Aliza Belman Inbal of Tel Aviv University’s Hartog School of Government and Policy.
TEL AVIV – Faina Dorfman, who immigrated to Israel from Uzbekistan hoping that her only child would have a better life here, walks along a stretch of beach just south of a tattered seaside disco called the Dolphinarium.
Ten years ago, a young Palestinian detonated a bomb packed with nails and bullets as he stood amid a crowd waiting to be let inside for a night of dancing.
The suicide bomber stole the life of Dorfman’s 15-year-old daughter, Yevgenia (known as Genya), along with the lives of 20 others, most of them teenage immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
RAMALLAH, West Bank – Clouds of tear gas hovered over hundreds of rioting Palestinian youths on the road to Jerusalem, where demonstrations marking the anniversary of Israel’s founding 63 years ago turned violent.
“I want a third intifada,” said Ala Barghouti, a 21-year-old accounting student, his nostrils stuffed with tissues to keep out the sting of the tear gas. “I hope things do escalate today. A third intifada will help move the Palestinian Authority to improve our political situation.
“We need more support out here, a stronger presence to get everyone out on streets,” he said. “We need to get the Palestinian cause back on world radar again.”
JERUSALEM – In an elegant limestone building in a Jerusalem neighborhood that before 1948 was home to the city’s Palestinian elite, a group of Jewish and Arab Israeli academics recently tried to untangle one of Israel’s most complex and charged questions: the status of its Arab minority.
“The discussion here is so important because we are trying to see if this is a zero-sum game or if it’s possible to find the way to coexistence,” said Anita Shapira, the Israeli historian and former dean of Tel Aviv University who presided over the symposium on the topic organized by the Israel Democracy Institute.
TEL AVIV – Unless Israel acts fast, when the Arab Spring comes to full bloom, the Jewish state will be left out in the cold.
That was the essence of the dire warnings issued earlier this month by the high-profile backers of a new Israeli peace push who say they seek to propel the country along the peacemaking path before it’s too late.
With Israel’s diplomatic position sinking and the Palestinians on the cusp of taking a unilateral path to statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in September, a group of ex-military men, business leaders, former security chiefs, and diplomats say now’s the time for action — and they’re trying to do something about it.
TEL AVIV – When David Portowicz was a new immigrant to Israel from Brooklyn in the 1970s, he began research on poverty in Jaffa that would lead to his life’s work: the creation of a nonprofit organization that now serves thousands of disadvantaged children and their families.
A doctoral student in social work at the time, the small NGO he co-founded in 1982, the Jaffa Institute, today is a veritable force of nature with 35 programs and an annual operating budget of $6 million. The institute runs afterschool activity centers to help keep kids off the streets, offers university scholarships for 170 graduates of Jaffa programs, has shelters for runaways and even provides music lessons.
KADESH BARNEA, Israel – Along the Israel-Egypt border near this southern Israeli town, rusted metal posts strung with barbed wire give way to sand dunes and an exposed, open border as wide open as the question of what will become of the countries’ relations now that Egypt is in turmoil.
During a break between border patrols, which have been stepped up since the recent protests in Egypt began, a few Israeli soldiers climbing into a Hummer say they have been told to be on alert for possible trouble.
But for now, the same quiet borne of 32 years of a cold but functional peace prevails.