9 minute read

Harmony Of Contradictions

Creative integration of the ultra-orthodox community (Haredim) in the labor market
A close-up of Yarin Kimor speaking passionately to an audience

Yarin Kimor

Speaker & presenter on Systematic Creative Thinking

It’s Both

People seem to think there’s a contrast between religious beliefs and the labor market, but really, it’s a harmony of contradictions.

Solomon, the wisest of men, proved a harmony of contradictions through original and brilliant creative thinking: two women claimed that one baby is the fruit of their womb. No evidence could be relied upon in favor of one or the other—seemingly an impossible situation. Solomon ruled ⏤ to share the baby. On its face, it is a cruel, brutal idea like no other. But in reality, it is a shrewd technique for revealing the truth. The false mother agreed to receive half a baby, and the real mother gave up for the baby’s sake. In doing so, the truth was revealed.

This is a wonderful example of the creativity shown in the Jewish sources. The same creative principles that ultra-orthodox are taught from the beginning of their lives. They don’t always know how to use this beautiful gift to realize practical goals, such as creating a relative advantage in the labor market.

This is a treasure to every decision-maker looking for the uniqueness in an employee’s ⏤ creativity, originality, outside-the-box thinking, depth, and solemnity. The ultra-orthodox job candidate can emphasize this way of thinking to express their advantage for a unique benefit to the organization in the face of a competitive market that craves prominence and innovation.

In the face of possible claims about a disadvantage in ultra-Orthodox education, the candidate for the position can emphasize that studying in prestigious institutions such as: “Yeshiva Hebron,” “Fonibaz” and others is equivalent to the most prestigious universities in the world ⏤ “Harvard,” “Princeton,” “MIT,” Colombia” and others.

Need proof? The meteoric rise of ultra-Orthodox programmers in the high-tech market, who easily fill the knowledge gap. They use sophisticated Talmudic thinking to meet professional expectations, break new ground, and find original solutions to intractable problems. Out of 7,000 annual graduates, 1,000 are ultra-Orthodox. And the number is growing at an exponential rate.


Dealing With Prejudices

Contrary to widespread belief, women within the ultra-Orthodox community have opportunities to study core subjects, starting from primary education, similar to state education. However, this fact may not be evident to interviewers during job interviews. Candidates need to emphasize this aspect, as it challenges the common perception that everything is solely determined by divine intervention, without any room for individual contribution. Instead, it is valuable to highlight the concept that “Everything is expected and permission is given.” This means that individuals are not solely reliant on divine grace and prayer but are encouraged to exert their own efforts to fulfill their aspirations.

In the story “The Furnace of Aknai,” the sages and the heavenly voice agreed that certain matters should be decided by humans on Earth, affirming that “It is not in heaven… nor is it beyond the sea”. This highlights the notion that earthly issues require human effort and involvement. The divine role is not that of a mere subcontractor for fulfilling human desires; rather, humans must actively participate in realizing their own aspirations.

This understanding aligns with the true will of God, as stated in various sources. The labor market eagerly awaits the unique skills of the ultra-Orthodox community and can provide them with ample livelihood opportunities, allowing them to contribute to society and their community. Through this process, they can also ensure the well-being and education of their children, harmonizing the values of “Torah and work” without contradiction.

As reflected in the title of this article, “Harmony of Contradictions,” there is no inherent conflict between these values. They coexist and complement each other, forming a cohesive whole that transcends the sum of its components.

The dispute over ownership of a tallit, which has occupied sages for many years, remains an ongoing issue. While the underlying principles and heritage remain unchanged, the landscape has evolved. A noteworthy example of this evolution is the advertising school “Sior Mohot” (Brainstorm), a prestigious and leading training institute within the ultra-Orthodox market. It has enabled hundreds, and even thousands, of ultra-Orthodox women to establish themselves as professional leaders in the advertising industry.

Mrs. Miriam Shavit, a member of a distinguished family, leads the two main branches of the school, which are located in Har Nof, Jerusalem, and Bnei Brak. Under her guidance, the school ensures the highest caliber of lecturers and utilizes advanced technological and graphic tools. Simultaneously, the school exercises utmost care and sensitivity towards the unique considerations of the ultra-Orthodox community in this field. This commitment to strict adherence does not hinder creativity, originality, and the intelligent use of computers and other resources. As a result, the school’s graduates have achieved tremendous success in the advertising market.

These achievements are not limited to young girls but also encompass married women who skillfully blend age-old traditions, family values, work, and livelihood without contradiction. Moreover, they manage to maintain modesty while fostering creativity. The ability to strike this balance exemplifies the potential for harmonizing various aspects of life within the ultra-Orthodox community.


Leveraging Knowledge

Many of the graduates are also involved in various charities because smart advertising is a very important tool in business and philanthropic entrepreneurship.

For example, the association “Ezer Metzion” has emerged as a national leader in saving lives. They raise resources for bone marrow transplants and possess a remarkable ability to identify suitable candidates out of millions who are incompatible, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. In critical situations, they have successfully transplanted bone marrow, often at the eleventh hour, providing a lifeline to those in desperate need. Without the assistance of this association, these individuals would have faced the end of their lives.

The “Yad Eliezer” association embarked on its mission by distributing food baskets to the underprivileged, starting on a small scale. Thanks to the innovative approach of its founders, the Wiesel family managed to minimize the organization’s operational costs to just 7%, ensuring that 93% of every donation directly benefited the families in need. Unsurprisingly, within a few years, the association evolved into an almost welfare institution.

Another principle in creative thinking, ⏤ “Radicalisation,” ⏤ means if you cannot solve a small problem, it is necessary to increase it by a thousandfold to require a solution in one dimension. The “Yad Sarah” association and its founder – Uri Lupoliansky, did this. This association has become a kind of health ministry by itself. A daily kindness lasting over years that tens of thousands and even more, from all sectors, benefit from. These are not empty words but a reality: life-saving devices, wheelchairs, crutches, and other aids that bless anyone in need.

Another principle in creative thinking, known as “Radicalisation,” suggests that if you cannot solve a small problem, you should amplify it by a thousandfold, necessitating a larger solution. The “Yad Sarah” association, under the leadership of its founder, Uri Lupoliansky, exemplifies this approach. It has evolved into a veritable healthcare ministry, providing ongoing acts of kindness that have benefitted tens of thousands, if not more, across all sectors of society. This is not merely rhetoric but a tangible reality: life-saving equipment, wheelchairs, crutches, and other aids that bless those in need.

These associations, all born out of the entrepreneurial spirit of the ultra-Orthodox community, not only embody a compassionate and generous nature but also showcase a remarkable aptitude for fundraising and resource mobilization. They have secured significant funding, ranging from hundreds of millions to even billions of shekels. This presents an extraordinary advantage in the job market that ultra-Orthodox candidates must emphasize. It represents a unique blend of wealth and values, combining the ability to foster human connection in an often impersonal and detached business world and persuasive skills rooted in sincerity, responsibility, and the pursuit of multifaceted goals.


Multifaceted Thinking

While most people use thinking to solve problems, one notable advantage of religious education, particularly within the ultra-Orthodox community, is the emphasis on metacognition—thinking about thinking itself—from a young age. This type of thinking, rooted in Talmudic traditions and practical techniques refined over time, is a valuable cognitive tool and can be highly appealing to employers.

Numerous inspiring examples highlight this phenomenon, such as Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers, who excelled as a prominent physician and in various secular professions. Rabbi Milovvitz offers another illustration as he pursued studies in electrical engineering, mathematics, and natural philosophy at esteemed institutions like the Sorbonne in France while simultaneously immersing himself in a rabbinical seminary and becoming an inspirational leader for countless followers.

The ultra-Orthodox community’s unique educational approach, which strongly emphasizes moral and values-based learning, has yielded remarkable achievements in fields such as medicine, science, high-tech industries, education, and social sciences.


The Revolution Is Here

The state and the private sector already recognize that the ultra-Orthodox resource can benefit everyone. Millions of dollars are being invested in training programs for the ultra-orthodox. The private market is also actively involved in this.

Moshe Friedman, CEO of “Kama-Tech,” founded a special technological start-up. Beyond his success, he founded a dedicated enterprise integrating ultra-Orthodox people in the high-tech world. About 2000 people participate in a training program and are exposed to the leading companies in the world, such as Google and Amazon. The program is backed by leading Israeli entrepreneurs worldwide, such as Yossi Verdi and Amnon Shashua, who have proven themselves in huge IPOs ⏤ . Others in the high-tech industry and investment funds like Hami Peretz and Dov Moran led dozens of other investors to build a dedicated investment fund for ultra-orthodox start-ups.

The ultra-Orthodox communities in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and Elad are close to the bustling high-tech hubs, commercial centers, and other various opportunities that await the ultra-orthodox job seeker, who is wanted by these companies, no less than he is seeking them.