Experts from around the world are participating in a 3-day international conference in Jerusalem this week focusing on empowering Haredi Jews through employment and job training. The event – hosted by the Mafteach employment center network, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and the government of Israel will offer Haredi community leaders, educators, politicians, and employers a venue to discuss ways of reducing poverty in Haredi society by helping individuals find jobs while taking into account religious sensitivities.
Topics on the conference’s agenda include Yeshiva accreditation, culturally sensitive employment screenings and a comprehensive examination of the future of Haredi employment policy. Participants will also go on site visits where they will meet with Haredi trainees and learn about their experience. The first and second days of the gathering will be private while the third will be open to the public.
JDC-founded Mafteach employment centers reach out to corporate partners throughout Israel who are looking for skilled workers in order to meet the needs of a rapidly growing, high-tech economy. Over 26,000 Haredi adults have walked through the doors of the eight centers established to date, and almost two-thirds of them have jobs today. Trainees are taught a wide range of skills including English, vocational training, job placement, career development, career advancement and resume-writing courses. Two new centers in Netivot and Modiin Ilit are scheduled to open next month.
Philip – a 24-year-old Czech-born Israeli – is one of many whose lives have changed thanks to their participation in Haredi job training programs. As a farmer in the Haredi community of Kommimiyut, his income used to be seasonal and sparing. Now he works for a Coca Cola and the additional money helps pay his mortgage and school for his children.
“Everybody does it where I live – Shabbos is Shabbos and the other days of the week we work,” adding that he still learns every night in his community.
JDC’s employment programs for Haredim are made possible through the generous support of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, the Maks and Lea Rothstein Charitable Youth Trust, the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Leichtag Foundation, Joe Lebovic, The Stern Family Foundation, the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and UJA-Federation of New York.