The Anti-Semitism Mantra and the Victimized, Who Really are the Victims?

 

Who is Really Creating the Narrative?

Weaponizing the anti-Semitism “Mantra”

For those readers who do not know the definition, a “Mantra” is a slogan that is repeated over and over again for the purposes of concentration or meditation. It is, in other words, a form of mind-control. Some might say it can be a form of brainwashing. At it’s purest, a Mantra can be powerful tool for self-awareness, calm, a sense of peace. But, like all else, the pendulum swings both ways. Yin has its Yang.

Anti-Semitism as a Mantra, when used in weaponized form by those who would prefer to  distract attention from their behavior, shields any and all scrutiny. Criticism of the behavior gets viewed through the lens of a hater and not simply an investigator. As such the group, however irrelevant to the narrative, gets to act with impunity. The constant repetitive use of the term anti-Semitism is tragic insofar as it diminishes the value of the events and circumstances in historical context that led to the very word’s development in Judeo-Christian lexicon, the slaughter of millions of Jews.

While there have been other mass slaughters of people in human history, there does not appear to be a similar term for those who hate or show hostility against a group of people. The events of September 11, 2001, rightfully or wrongfully, led to a fear of and hostility towards overtly religious Muslims; but there is no similar word that describes that “group-hate” mentality. While anti-Semite might apply, it has not developed to describe the hatred towards Muslims.

African Americans and People of Color (trying to be sensitive with word use here) were enslaved, tortured, bought and sold as chattel and yet actions against them did not lead to a single defined term. Those who hate people of color are simply bigots or racists. Those who hate Asians don’t get a special adjective to describe them, nor do those who hate… well, you get the general gist. Haters of any particular group for whatever reason are defined under a single umbrella – bigot or racist.

Anti-Semitism was uniquely created as a term by history. It is now being uniquely weaponized as a mantra by behavior. That is a frightening and tragic reality. 

We have stated before and will repeat our sentiments here that the insidious distrust and tensions pervading New York and New Jersey are not foundationally about anti-Semitism. They are about over-development, unequal treatment under the law, corruption, judicial impropriety and a whole host of other indignities being perpetrated upon a myriad of different communities, including Jews. That the perpetrators are in large part ultra-Orthodox Jews is a function of the crime statistics and not a function of the community viewing that group harshly.

At least it did not begin that way.

Anyone who wants to turn the scrutiny of the behavior of: developers, landlords, tenants, not-for-profits, LLC’s, school board members, community members, community leaders and the list goes on, into a discussion of hate is allowing crimes to be committed with impunity. The financial crimes are at epidemic levels in New York and New Jersey, and they are going unchecked; because by shining light we are allegedly declaring war on religious Jews, on all Jews. This is the greatest con in history. It is an outright gaming of our very lexicon to allow a community’s members to act with impunity.  As such we are complicit in fostering the use of the anti-Semitism Mantra as a weapon; and it is being used against each and every one of us. This is a very dangerous precedent. 

It is high time that law enforcement, the judiciary, government officials and even Facebook open your eyes to the improprieties that are being committed. It is a moral imperative for ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed and otherwise unaffiliated Jewish leaders to take a stand against the blanket use of a the anti-Semitism mantra as a weapon. By participating in the repetition of the term you assist in the perpetration of crimes against entire groups of people.

Inevitably this will lead to real, unadulterated hatred. It is just a matter of time. People are getting hurt. Communities are being plundered. This is not victim blaming unless you sit and contemplate who are the real victims in the equation.

Look outside the box that would otherwise group the perpetrators because it is wholly irrelevant that so many are visibly religious Jews. Don’t let them convince you of a different reality. Had they been visibly religious Muslims or FLDS, or any other visibly religious group, there would not be a special word, to be used to create smoke and mirrors. Anti-Semitism is not the problem. 

But, a warning for the weary, tread that fine line of scrutiny and criticism carefully and be mindful. It is a treacherous road to travel. There are many innocent and visibly religious Jews who are being harmed both by the crime epidemic and by the repetition of the mantra. And they are worse off than everyone else.

NAACP v. East Ramapo, Remove Religion from the Mix, Still Segregation Problem, New Jersey’s Englewood Example

education_sign_resized

The Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly Example – No Right to Segregated Education.

The East Ramapo battle playing out in the courts is, writ small a discrimination case against a board in its nominating practices. The NAACP is claiming that the Board of Education has rigged the system so private school parents have a disproportionately large number of seats on the public school board. Writ large, however, the battle is ultimately one of segregation, allowing a community of white children to obtain significant funding and school budgeting allotments to the detriment of a largely minority public school system. This has played out before. 

The battle of what happens when you remove white children from a largely minority, people of color and Hispanic/Latino school system has played out in many districts, in many fora. The closest comparison between Rockland County, New York is one to a battle that played out for years, from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s just down the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Englewood Cliffs,  New Jersey.

The fact that the white children of Rockland County, New York are ultra-Orthodox is largely irrelevant. The issue is segregation. Is the State of New York prepared to allow a community to be segregated, if not foster that segregation; and is it willing to disenfranchise a public school system of largely minority children to do so? In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Education and the Courts were not:

One need look no further than the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka, [347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954)] to support the ALJ’s reliance upon evidence dealing not only with “material loss,” i.e., reduction in course offering, effect on curriculum, loss of teaching staff, but also an assessment of impact on the psychosocial dimension of education referred to in this case as “symbolic loss.” Notwithstanding the fact that DMHS is not all minority, it is, as previously stated, substantially imbalanced racially; thus, the following passage from the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown has no less bearing in this matter than if DMHS were all minority. It states: Segregation … in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to *445 deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system. …. [T]he Commissioner rejects the Cliffs Board’s arguments that attempt to justify severance because DMHS was an inferior educational facility at the time the petition was filed and should not, therefore, be held harmless from that. It is clear from the record that this case has been heavily immersed in an effort to cast DMHS as an inferior school, not worthy of its students. It is equally clear that the record does not support this position.
As to the Tenafly tuition policy, the Commissioner agreed with the ALJ that while it did not violate the law, it is “clearly contrary to public policy … and cannot be allowed to stand”:
Although the policy is, on its face, not discriminatory and although it was not adopted for improper motives, this does not mean that it should be allowed to stand insofar as the Cliffs and Englewood Boards are concerned, for the record has made it abundantly clear that the effect of the policy has been exactly what the ALJ denounces, namely, to exacerbate racial imbalance at DMHS by skimming off and luring students who are eligible to attend DMHS. Thus, in that sense it is “repugnant” and a “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy as it affects DMHS.

To provide a very oversimplified background, for years, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a largely white and affluent district without its own high school had a sending-receiving relationship with Englewood, New Jersey’s Dwight Morrow High School. Englewood was far more heterogeneous a community with a large majority of the students from families of color, Hispanic/Latino and other ethnic groups. Within a contractual setting, Englewood would receive public school children from the Cliffs with a percentage of the tax money sent to cover the costs per children. Cliffs’ children of high school age who chose to remain in the public school system were bused to Englewood after 8th grade. 

At the time, Alpine, New Jersey’s children were being sent by similar sending/receiving agreement to Tenafly, New Jersey a more homogeneous community with socio-economic ties that had a greater resemblance to Englewood Cliffs’, also mostly white and Asian community. During the early 80’s parents in Englewood Cliffs began, with greater frequency to leave the district before high school, to remove kids to parochial schools or to send them to either Elizabeth Morrow or Dwight Englewood, both private schools. At the time, busing was not provided to private schools; but rather it was arranged within the tuition paid. Busing was, however, provided to public school children who attended Dwight Morrow as part of the public school sending/receiving relationship.

In and around the early 80’s Englewood Cliffs began negotiating a contractual sending/receiving relationship with Tenafly, New Jersey, with the thought that the Cliffs would sever its relationship with Englewood. As a backdrop, Tenafly also began accepting students on a tuition-paid basis to give the Englewood Cliffs’ parents different options.

Englewood fought back, filing a series of actions with the New Jersey Commisioner of Education. All of the actions were based in pertinent part on the resulting reduction in white students, segregation and the detriment to the children of Englewood. To put it simply, Englewood claimed that even though the numbers of Cliffs children who were remaining in public school after the 8th grade were dwindling,  the loss of services to the children of Englewood, the reduction in classes which were at that time very diverse and team sport enrollment outweighed the benefit of the small population wanting only to be more homogeneous. In addition, and particularly relevant, they argued that no one had the “right to segregate” which was effectively what the Cliffs’ parents were doing when sending their kids to Tenafly by tuition. 

The Commissioner stated:

In Booker, the Supreme Court said that “children must learn to respect and live with one another in multi-racial and multi-cultural communities and the earlier they do so the better.” 45 N.J. at 170, 212 *480 A.2d 1. It also declared that the Commissioner has a duty to ensure that such learning occurs in schools that are not de facto segregated and that he must not only eliminate schools that are “entirely or almost entirely Negro,” 45 N.J. at 178, 212 A.2d 1, but must also achieve “the greatest dispersal consistent with sound educational values and procedures.” Id. at 180, 212 A.2d 1. By focusing on Booker’s “multi-racial and multi-cultural” reference instead of the principle of “greatest dispersal”, it seems to us that the State Board recast the expansive holding of Booker as the far more limited holding that achieving some minimal racial and cultural diversity will suffice. In so doing, the State Board eviscerated Booker’s explicit ban on school segregation. If it had taken no further action, we would likely have intervened on this issue, at least to the extent of requiring an explanation of what educational values and procedures the State Board viewed as counter-balancing the need for greatest dispersal. Because of the later developments, it is unnecessary for us to do so.

Even within that backdrop, the State of New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education still dismantled the idea of changing the relationship between Englewood and Englewood Cliffs on the grounds it would only serve to segregate the children and would ultimately come at a high price to Englewood’s children.   

In the early 1990’s the issue again came to light when Englewood decided to close some elementary schools and move 8th grade to the high school. With the Englewood Cliffs Elementary School ending in 8th grade, this created a mismatch. And yet, the Commissioner of Education and the courts were still not moved; and the issue of regionalizing high schools was raised, also not moving the Commissioner.

Cliffs complains that, even if the State Board properly denied its petition for severance, it exceeded its authority in enjoining Tenafly and other non-party school districts from accepting Cliffs’ students on a tuition basis. With respect to Tenafly, Cliffs claims that the State Board’s injunction violated Tenafly’s statutory right to exercise discretion as to which interdistrict students it accepts. It also argues that enjoining the THS tuition program will in no way increase the white student population at DMHS. Cliffs also asserts that the State Board’s injunction denies due process to any school district not joined as a party.
The Commissioner has broad constitutional and legislative powers concerning public education. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-10; Piscataway Tp. Bd. of Educ. v. Burke, supra, 158 N.J. Super. at 441, 386 A.2d 439. These powers must be interpreted sufficiently expansively to correspond with his “high responsibilities” in the education field. Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504, *474 279 A.2d 619. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-16 concomitantly confers on the State Board all necessary powers “requisite to the performance of its duties.” Clearly, under appropriate circumstances, injunctive relief is a power available to the State Board. Bd. of Educ. of Asbury Park v. Bds. of Educ. of Shore Regional High School District, 1971 S.L.D. 221, aff’d, 1971 S.L.D. 228 (1971). Indeed, Cliffs concedes this theoretical power, arguing instead that the injunction was improvidently granted in this case because an injunction, the so-called “strong arm of equity,” is an extraordinary remedy not justified by the facts. Van Name v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 130 N.J. Eq. 433, 442-43, 23 A.2d 261 (Ch. 1941), aff’d, 132 N.J. Eq. 302, 28 A.2d 210 (E. & A. 1942). We disagree.
Here, we have affirmed the State Board’s determination that the Tenafly tuition policy had a serious negative impact on the racial balance at DMHS. As Tenafly’s non-indigenous population increased, the situation at DMHS worsened. Tenafly not only “lured” and “enticed” Cliffs’ students by its “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy, and in doing so syphoned off a disproportionate number of high achievers, but also attracted white and Asian Englewood students. Given those findings, the effectuation of the State’s constitutional policy in favor of racial balance as a function of the quality of education not only authorized but compelled an injunction against Tenafly. See In re Solid Waste Util. Customer Lists, 106 N.J. 508, 516, 524 A.2d 386 (1987). As to the other school districts (none of which has complained), the State Board’s directive was a necessary adjunct to the injunction against Tenafly. Without the directive, the State Board could not ensure total compliance with the educational goals it sought to achieve. Most importantly, the injunction was a critical element of the State Board’s attempt to remedy the problem at DMHS by using the least intrusive means. Given the history of this case, a laissez faire attitude, without an injunction, would have doomed these means to failure.
*475 VIII
While a sending-receiving relationship is essentially an education services-for-tuition exchange made between two districts, that arrangement does not alter the structural integrity of either district. Regionalization, on the other hand, involves the formation of an entirely new school district governed by a separate board of education. See Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504-05, 508, 279 A.2d 619. Regional districts can be formed for all purposes or for limited purposes. N.J.S.A. 18A:13-2. Among the “limited purposes” is the organization of a regional district to operate a high school or high schools only. Englewood has petitioned for the creation of a regional high school district including it, Cliffs and Tenafly. The effect of such a regional district here would be to transfer control over DMHS and THS to a regional school board.
The authority for cross-district regionalization arises out of Jenkins where the Supreme Court expanded on the Booker principle of intra-district regionalization:
It is true that Booker dealt with a community which was wholly contained within a single district fixed by municipal lines whereas here the community involves two districts. …. As the Supreme Court pointed out in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, [575] 84 S. Ct. 1362, [1388] 12 L. Ed. 2d 506, 535 (1964), political subdivisions of the state whether they be “counties, cities or whatever” are not “sovereign entities” and may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate federal constitutional rights and policies. See Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339, 347, 81 S. Ct. 125, 5 L. Ed. 2d 110, 116 (1960); United States v. State of Texas, 321 F. Supp. 1043, 1050-1058 (E.D.Texas 1970); cf. Jackman, et al. v. Bodine, et al., 55 N.J. 371 [262 A.2d 389] (1970). It seems clear to us that, similarly, governmental subdivisions of the state may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate state constitutional rights and policies. This does not entail any general departure from the historic home rule principles and practices in our State in the field of education or elsewhere; but it does entail suitable measures of power in our State authorities for fulfillment of the educational and racial policies embodied in our State Constitution and in its implementing legislation. Surely if those policies and the views firmly expressed by this Court in Booker (45 N.J. 161 [212 A.2d 1]) and now reaffirmed are to be at all meaningful, the State Commissioner must have power to cross district lines to avoid “segregation in fact” (Booker, 45 N.J. at 168 [212 A.2d 1]), at least where, as here, there *476 are no impracticalities and the concern is not with multiple communities but with a single community without visible or factually significant internal boundary separations. [Jenkins, 58 N.J. at 500-01, 279 A.2d 619].

The relevant case Englewood Cliffs v. Englewood, 257 N.J. Super 413 (1992) can be found here.

A report on the the NAACP v. East Ramapo Central School Distrrict, 18-3481 (2d Cir. 2019) can be found here.

A News brief one NAACP v. East Ramapo can be found here.

Free Speech at Zuckerberg’s Convenience, Not Free at All – the Hypocrisy and the NJ Politburo [RUOC]

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a podium at Georgetown University

Facebook’s Hypocrisy and the Chilling of the Free Speech of Eighteen Thousand Followers – an Opinion

Dear Readers, 

The following is a small portion of a text of commentary addressing comments made by Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg during his soiree with Congress. It speaks to the limits of his abilities to, on the one hand, promote free speech and on the other hand continue to run a company without pandering to powerful forces that want speech censored. Conversely, it questions the legitimacy of Zuckerberg’s claims to support free speech when Facebook’s add’s algorithms filter what a viewer sees to guide the direction of speech. We will not address the converse point here.

This blogger wholeheartedly maintains that there is a vast difference between censoring sites that assist terrorist organizations with recruitment (inciting violence or acting toward the commission of a crime) and censoring sites that shine light on the disenfranchisement of an entire community (even if it does, ultimately target a specific group because that’s the lay of the land). 

It is one thing to live in a country where speech is not expected to be free so when free speech is permitted, it is a surprise to everyone [China/Russia, for example]. It is a whole other thing to live in a country where the principles of the First Amendment’s freedoms of speech and press which are well tested in the courts, have settled on a summary that speech should always be free unless it incites violence, is used in the commission of a crime or is defamatory. That last one remains free, however, but can be subject to redress and is carved out by the need to defend one’s statements.

This past week under pressure from New Jersey’s Governor and Attorney General, Facebook removed a group – Rise Up Ocean County. The site was supported by 18K followers, mostly from New Jersey and New York. It was reviled in large part by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community because the goal of the site crossed paths with ultra-Orthodox Jews by virtue of the Ocean County, New Jersey landscape.

In the end the voices of 18K people were not free at all. And, all of the work and research that went into that site, investigatory material that should have been viewed by law enforcement as a means to enforce laws, was chilled. The people on that site were not terrorists looking to recruit. They were not inciting violence. Their speech should have been protected and Zuckerberg should have used that as a cause célèbre for his alleged support of free speech.

Continue reading

The NJ Gov. and AG Should Have Been Investigating Claims of RUOC, Claiming Anti-Semitism is a Ruse

If the AG and Governor of the State of New Jersey Can Restrict Speech and Press at Whim, When Can They Restrict Due Process? When Can They Deny Appropriate Redress? Where Does the Truth Get Blurred?

Dear Readers:

Question – 

Could Facebook be held to have facilitated the commission of a crime if leaving the page (Rise Up Ocean County) standing, would have prevented it?

The Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in New Jersey along with the Governor Phil Murphy likely never read the articles or opened any investigations into claims made by Rise Up Ocean County, which investigations had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Those claims included but were not limited to: basement businesses in private homes not zoned for commercial use, bank fraud, zoning law violations, irresponsible land use and a litany of others.

That the comments on the page were occasionally hateful and vitriolic is a shame and a challenge for any page moderator; but not grounds to remove the page. The State of New Jersey has court rulings that preclude the infringement on any speech that does not incite violence.

The Supreme Court just affirmed that when it comes to the First Amendment, hate speech is not an exception. The ruling was over a federal trademark law that banned people from registering offensive names; the court sided unanimously an Asian-American rock band named the Slants, whose band name was deemed racially disparaging. But many argue hate speech is not the same as free speech — it incites violence and does not warrant constitutional protection. Should hateful speech be protected? 

Continue reading

Exclusionary and Skewed Zoning or Anti-Semitism? And, Why are Tensions Heightened? – Take 2

CUPON Mahwah (Citizens United to Preserve Our Neighborhoods) Addressed The Village of Airmont’s Elected Officials On Monday, February 3rd, 2020.

Taking Bread And Tracking Ghosts In Airmont.

The Irish-Catholics Have Owned Pearl River For Long Enough – It’s Time For Them To Move.

[Post updated 9:30 a.m.]

Hillside Avenue is the latest victim of Rockland County’s long list of bad behavior and irresponsible development projects.

In the video below Heather Federico and others followed up on their request for action at the Village of Airmont’s Board Meeting in December 2019. They is what they learned. But first a question for the Deputy Mayor: Did you pay your taxes? If not don’t ask us to pay ours!

CUPON Mahwah’s member Heather Federico begins with a simple question …..

“Have you done anything since the last meeting?”

Nothing has been done by Airmont’s elected officials about the situation in Hillside Avenue including the zombie house and headless chickens.

“This board has a chance to do something – you have done nothing”.

“Chicken heads left on people’s driveways”.

“I got the Ramapo police reports – here’s the chicken picture.”

“Not allowed by who? … you have had a whole month! …. I am told every report is “unfounded”, “unfounded”. I have stacks of them.”

“Do you understand? .. You have had lots of time .. I’m looking at a bunch of blank faces”.

“Have you filed reports?”

“We were on NBC News! We are up for an Emmy!”

“Did any of you attend the Five Towns Supervisors Meeting on Combating Hatred?”

Nope …. If they had they might have found out that what is happening in Hillside Avenue has nothing do with hatred from the goyim.

“One thing you need to do is to enforce your codes”.

Does the board know that there are things moving in the cemetery at night and they aren’t ghosts?

How does government work? Is there a process?

More blank stares ….

“Honestly? We don’t know”.

“I suggest you talk to Supervisor Specht or send an email to the Village Clerk”.

Why is one board colleague smiling? …. Let’s gently inquire.

If you are an accused anti-Semite in Airmont you will be asked to take down your American Flag. This American tells his local government what he will and will not do about the flag.

“I’m the outcast. Garbage is thrown in my yard. Why should I have to move?”

“I am told that the rules to not apply to me. It’s time for ME to leave. I am told WE are going to be like Kiryas Joel”.

“Rockland County is at the point where it should be separated in half. The laws should apply to all.”

“I should never be told to take down my American Flag. That is where hate comes from”.

“The Irish Catholics in Pearl River have been told they have ‘owned’ Pearl River long enough and it’s time for them too to move”.

A Ramapo Code Enforcement Officer can’t do his job because he would be fired?

“The Ramapo Building Department gave me the number to call. The officer told me he knows what is going on. ‘There’s a business there and they have threatened me’, he said. ‘They said if I don’t stop harassing them I will lose my job’.”

So who runs the Town of Ramapo?

Who is paying to pull the puppet strings?

Who is being paid off?

They call it “taking bread” in Ramapo.

Where is the Rockland County News Media?

Where is Rockland County’s District Attorney?

Where is the State Government?

Where are the Feds?

Where is the outrage?

 

Jersey City Grocery Store Shooting in December – Heavily Armed Duo with Bomb Hidden in Van

blob:https://www.nbcnewyork.com/e7bb55c6-d326-4848-8a9b-60ccfa987a38

 

Bomb in Van of NJ Shooting Attack Suspects Could’ve Killed People 5 Football Fields Away: Officials

What to Know

  • One detective and three civilians were killed during a targeted shootout and standoff at a Jersey City kosher market last month
  • Two suspects, David Anderson and Francine Graham, were found dead inside the market; NJ’s top prosecutor said their motivation was hate-fueled domestic terror
  • Investigators said Monday that a bomb found in their van could have killed or maimed people as far as five football fields away

The U.S. attorney in New Jersey and the head of the local FBI said Monday that the bomb found in the van of alleged domestic terrorists Francine Graham and David Anderson could have killed or maimed people up to five football fields away.

They also said there was enough material in the van to make a second bomb.

Four innocent people, including a veteran Jersey City police detective and father of five, died in the hail of prolonged gunfire. Most of the victims were found inside the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Boulevard during what officials have described as a hate-fueled terror spree on Dec. 10.

Continue reading

Our Economy is Unsustainable if Religious Groups Go Their Separate Ways – the Israel Example -Think NY, NJ, etc…

Start-Up Nation Central staff visiting teachers and students from a Bais Yaakov Seminary in Jerusalem in June.  Photo courtesy of Start-Up Nation Central

Start-Up Nation Central staff visiting teachers and students from a Bais Yaakov Seminary in Jerusalem in June. Photo courtesy of Start-Up Nation Central

Stakes High In Moving Charedi Women Into Tech

Tel Aviv — Zehava Feinberg is a 19-year-old from charedi girls’ seminary in Jerusalem who wanted to study computer science after high school in the hope of landing a job at an Israeli high-tech firm.

“I like problem solving and math,” she said. “I’m looking for a job that I won’t be bored at. I want it to be a good salary. I also want to raise a family.”

In theory, there should be plenty of opportunity for Feinberg. Israel’s high-tech sector is thirsty for young programming talent and intense demand for employees has driven up salaries so high that many companies have set up programming operations outside of Israel to ease labor costs. At the same time, charedi communities are eager for women to find high-paying jobs to provide a higher quality of life for a population group in which men are encouraged to engage in religious studies and the poverty rate was a staggering 43 percent in 2018.

Despite that potential match, the prospects for young charedi women like Feinberg to find employment as programmers in Israel’s technology industry have been discouraging. In the last two years, nearly three out of every four graduates of vocational computer science programs at the Bais Yaakov schools, a network of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox girls seminaries with 8,000 students, did not find work with technology companies. The graduates who do get jobs in the field are usually employed in low-paid quality assurance jobs. At the same time, charedi women became convinced that the industry was biased against them, and often never even bothered to apply for entry level jobs.

But an educational pilot project is trying to improve the prospects for female graduates of charedi post-high school seminaries to find work in high tech. Dubbed “Adva” (small wave or ripple in Hebrew), the project aims to give high school graduates a post-secondary education on par with Israeli universities and colleges (institutions that are shunned by ultra-Orthodox as “foreign” and sacrilegious).

The two-year (three semesters) program also gives them programming boot-camp problem solving experience as well as interviewing and career skills necessary for the largely unfamiliar world of high tech.

Feinberg is part of the first Adva cohort — 86 students spread over three Jerusalem schools — and recently completed her first year of studies, which focused on catch-up math courses in statistics, calculus and linear algebra, as well beginning programming languages.

“Our math level was not such a high level,” said Feinberg. At the beginning of the year we had intensive math to bring it up just so we could learn.”

The curriculum has been developed with input and oversight from university computer science professors and executives from technology multinationals. The program is a joint initiative of Start-Up Nation Central, a non-governmental organization promoting Israel’s tech sector, the companies themselves and the Bais Yaakov network of schools. (Start-Up Nation Central did not provide exact figures on the cost of the pilot, saying only that the first year’s costs were “expensive” and that government agencies are expected to pick up some costs for the second year.) It also has the blessing of ultra-Orthodox rabbinic authorities.

The disconnect between Israel’s reclusive ultra-Orthodox community and larger society animates the country’s daily political debate and is shaping up as a major wedge issue in the Sept. 17 elections. Issues of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox 18-year-olds and charedi-enforced restrictions on marriage, dietary laws and Sabbath observance have created a bitter divide.

But that chasm also threatens the country’s economy: with low levels of employment, the impoverished charedi (and Israeli Arab) populations will eventually become a drag on public finances. Economists have warned that Israel needs to take urgent steps to better integrate the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs into the larger economy.

We can’t sustain our economy if Arabs and charedim go their separate ways and don’t participate,” said Eugene Kandell, the chief executive of Start-Up Nation Central and a former economic adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The majority of relations between non-religious and charedi populations is driven on fear and non-familiarity. Each one thinks the other wants to change them and delegitimize their way of life.”

The Adva initiative began with Yisrael Tik, the head of external relations at Bais Yaakov and a former director of education for the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Ilit, who wanted to improve the job acceptance rate for seminary students studying computers. Tik discussed the challenge with colleagues on Israel’s Council for Higher Education (on which he also serves), who put him in contact with Start-Up Nation Central.

The first thing the stakeholders realized was that the vocational curriculum developed by Israel’s labor ministry for the seminaries was not up to par.

The computer programs at seminaries don’t provide what the industry requires,” Tik said. “They were built for people who don’t attend university.”

As recently as a decade ago, nearly two-thirds of charedi women became educators within their own community. That figure has dropped to just over one-third, as more of the women find work as nurses and caregivers. For years teaching was the most prized women’s profession within the charedi community, but now, women with engineering education are also sought after as potential matches. Poverty rates among the ultra-Orthodox are dropping, but the community still lags far behind the rest of Israel.

“People are more practical now,” said Gilad Malach, who heads the ultra-Orthodox program at the Israel Democracy Institute. “There is a need and wish for a lot of women to go into areas of high tech. Even within the community, there is an understanding that if a woman is working and earning a lot of money,” it frees a man “to [pursue] religious studies.”

Adva isn’t the first educational program to embrace the challenge of integrating ultra-Orthodox women into the tech workforce. Special courses at three Jerusalem academic colleges are tailored to ultra-Orthodox students, though only 130 charedi women are receiving degrees a year — far from the number necessary to help the industry or boost the standard of living of charedi families.

And more than a decade ago, programming companies like Matrix software opened offices in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Ilit to employ charedi women in a gender segregated work environment that offered flexible hours so employees could balance home life and employment. But those positions were outsourced programming projects with relatively low pay.

Instructors in the Bais Yakov program are all charedi women with doctorates in their respective fields. To overcome suspicions about the tech work environments, community rabbinic authorities visited the offices of technology companies taking part in the program.

But there is still ample resistance to women pursuing degrees in high tech. In May, at a conference for the parents of women studying at the post-high-school seminaries, Modiin Ilit Chief Rabbi Meir Kessler complained about husbands who encourage women to earn better salaries. He warned that “immodest” workplaces promote “evil” inclinations, mixing with secular co-workers and leave wives too tired to handle their roles as homemakers.

After the publication of a report on the program in an ultra-Orthodox newspaper, a public leaflet warned the public that “the defense establishment” was behind a secret campaign to turn the charedi seminaries into academic colleges with help from “collaborators” from within the seminaries.

To continue reading click here.