Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Haredi Women in the Laborforce

Here's an interesting and optimistic piece about an American insurance company which is employing Haredi women as insurance evaluators. Since they work Israeli mornings, nighttime in the US, the company saves time; they are also working for salaries that are lower than anything comparable in the US. However, unlike many business that use English-speaking employees in India or the Philippines, these women are doing quite skilled work. I'm familiar with a number of such places, and their advantage over the Asian competition is in the skills of their staff: they don't even try to compete at the simple levels.

The whole movement was given a tremendous boost a few years ago when then-Finance Minister Netanyahu slashed the subsides of large families (code: some orthodox, most Arabs, and essentially all Haredis). There was a cacophony of squawks and shrieks about his cruelty, but it seems he was right on all parameters - this being merely one of the longer-term results. And very long-term it may prove to be, if it helps in healing some of the severe distortions that have characterized the Haredi communities in Israel these past two generations or so. (Their New York cousins never had this particular set of problems, since no American government would ever have dreamed of subsidizing them off the labor market for generations).

And note the final paragraph to see the full subversive power of this change.

1 comment:

Lydia McGrew said...

I know almost nothing about the Haredi in Israel. I know in your book you mention the men "hiding in Yeshivas" so as not to have to fulfill army service. But you don't mention for how many years they have to hide before they are too old to be conscripts.

Does this mean that the men do not work to support their families, that they get married and rely on their wives' home businesses or family-friendly work schedules and on government subsidies to feed their children?

If so, that's just so strange to me, because traditionalists in the U.S. usually regard a man as responsible to support his family financially.