Outsiders II—The Ultra-Orthodox
Israel has a large and rapidly growing population of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews that present an immense challenge to the country’s future as a knowledge economy. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are much poorer than other Israelis, and their schools are dedicated to teaching religious texts rather than imparting the skills needed to work in a knowledge economy. Moreover, the ultra-Orthodox ideal is that men continue their studies far into adulthood. The result is that a dangerously growing share of the Israeli population is ill-equipped for the needs of a knowledge economy. Policymakers are aware of the problem and are taking steps to address it, but they are running up against the community’s deeply held religious ideology, which rejects many of the fundamental prerequisites of modern society.