Friday, April 13, 2018

Yeshiva High Schools

Tehila Bigman

In recent years, the demand to study at yeshiva high schools has increased among the haredi public in Israel. At yeshiva high schools, alongside religious studies students learn general subjects and follow the curriculum for the matriculation examination. This new interest reveals deep processes at work in haredi society that indicate a desire for integration into the employment market, which is often the result of the aspiration to earn a decent living, and sometimes a wish to be a more significant part of general Israeli culture.

Studies for boys in the haredi sector begin at age three. That is the age when a boy enters the Talmud Torah or heder and starts to learn how to read. Studies at the Talmud Torah continue until age 14 (the end of eighth grade), and include many hours of religious study –Torah study, Halacha (religious laws), Mishna, Gemara, Musar and World View – as well as general subjects which include math, geography, nature studies, history and more. English and other foreign languages are rarely included, and there is minimal, if any, "enrichment," in subjects such as technology, computers, art, or physical education. In the higher grades there are more religious studies at the expense of the other subjects. After completing the studies at the Talmud Torah, the haredi youth continues to a "small" or "junior" yeshiva for the next three years (parallel to grades nine through 11). Only religious subjects are taught at the small yeshiva.

This means that a graduate of the haredi school system receives a rich education in religious studies, but his level of education in all other areas is roughly equivalent to a student in grade five or six in the state systems. Therefore, entry into the work force, as well as into higher education in the country, is effectively blocked to these haredi graduates.

Research undertaken at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research indicates a trend that shows that more and more members of the haredi community are interested in changing the situation and providing their sons with the tools and the possibility of receiving a broader education starting in high school, to enable them to earn a decent living, or because they believe that the true "Way of the Torah" includes preparedness for a practical life.

In a survey of 450 men and women who are representative of haredi society, 17% of respondents said that they would have no problem sending their sons to a haredi yeshiva high school. Alongside 41% who responded that under no circumstances would they be willing to send their sons to an institution that combines secular studies and preparation for the matriculation exam (which is representative of the prevailing approach in haredi society today), a similar number of respondents said that they wouldn't rule out this possibility. The survey data shows that in the coming years a potential 5,000 additional students may attend haredi yeshiva high schools.

Among respondents in Jerusalem only 12% said that they have no problem with their children studying at a high school yeshiva, and it is interesting to note that in Bnei Brak, a center of haredi Judaism, the percentage was almost double, with 23% of parents responding that they have no problem with their sons studying at a yeshiva high school.

The results foresee a growing phenomenon, which may have far-reaching influence on the employment market and the integration of the haredi population into the larger community in Israel, and we would be advised to pay attention.

Translated by Gilah Kahn

Friday, April 6, 2018

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Erela Ganan

The Central Bureau of Statistics Social Survey for 2016 posed the following question to its respondents: "Are there situations in which you feel lonely?" While working on this weekly column I came across that question, and I wondered – would I have answered that question honestly? And on a government survey? Which of the four options (often, sometimes - from time to time, infrequently, never) would I have chosen? I'm still not sure, but in the meantime, this is what the existing data reveals…

Men in Tel Aviv are lonelier than men in Jerusalem; women in Jerusalem are lonelier than women in Tel Aviv
6.7% of the men in Tel Aviv often feel lonely, as opposed to 3.7% of the men in Jerusalem.
6.66% of the women in Jerusalem often feel lonely, as opposed to 5.94% of the women in Tel Aviv.

When you cluster the answers, the loneliness gaps by gender and by city blur – about 21% of the men in Jerusalem are often or occasionally lonely, similar to about 23% of the men in Tel Aviv. However, we learn that in general women feel lonelier than men do. About 80,000 women in Jerusalem (31%) and about 44,000 women in Tel Aviv (26%) feel lonely often or occasionally. The situation in Haifa isn't much happier: 20,500 of the men in Haifa (21%) feel lonely often or occasionally, as opposed to about 30,000 women in Haifa (27%).

To what is the sense of loneliness connected, among Jerusalemites?

I assumed that there would be a correspondence between the level of loneliness and the quality of family relationships. The Central Bureau of Statistics looks into this as well, and asks: Are you satisfied with your relationship with your relatives? There were insufficient respondents to the options that express dissatisfaction or complete dissatisfaction and so the sampling error doesn't allow for the presentation of the data, which means that I can't reinforce or rule out my assumption. Still, the 21% of the women in Jerusalem who report a frequent feeling of loneliness is comprised of 6.3% who are "very satisfied" with their family relationships, and 14% who are only "satisfied." Among the 31% of women in Jerusalem who feel lonely now and again, 8% are "very satisfied" and connected to their families, while 20% are only "satisfied."

And what of the family status of the respondents?

There is insufficient family status data about those who reported feeling a sense of loneliness "often." At the same time, from among the approximately 17% of Jerusalemites who are lonely "occasionally," about 12% are married, and about 5% are single. And among the approximately 24.4% of women in Jerusalem who are occasionally lonely, about 15% are married and about 5.4% are single.

And maybe, after all that, we can sum up and conclude that a sense of loneliness is part and parcel of feelings of human existence, and it's just as natural to feel loneliness as any other feeling. However, if you still feel overwhelmed, don't keep it to yourself – it's probably a good idea to seek help, or company...

Translated by Gilah Kahn

Friday, March 30, 2018

Housing Inventory

Yair Assaf-Shapira

Planning is required if you want to build apartments. When there is a dearth of apartments, a question that arises is: Is there a lack of apartments today because the scope of the planning wasn't wide enough or because the construction process is too slow and can't keep up with the planning? This debate is at the core of the argument about the future of the Committee for Preferred Areas for Housing (CPAH). Following a government decision, the Planning Administration and the Israel Land Authority provide the public with a database which includes all the apartments that exist "on paper" and their various planning stages, via the website This database is the residential planning inventory. We have tried to examine the scope of the Jerusalem apartments that are currently in the planning stages.

The planning inventory of all the apartments in Israel stands at 436,700 apartments, of which 8,900 (2%) are in Jerusalem. The cities with the largest planning inventories are not the big cities which comprise the nuclei of the metropolitan areas – in those areas they have "run out" of room to build – but rather mostly medium-size cities such as Ashkelon, where the number of planned apartments in the inventory stands at 27,800, Kiryat Ata (21,400), and Lod (15,900). The apartment inventories in Haifa and Tel Aviv are lower than that of Jerusalem, and number 6,500 and 3,900 respectively. With respect to the apartment inventory in Jerusalem, for 3,400 apartments (38%) the plans have already been approved, while the others are in earlier planning stages.

Will construction dwindle in the big cities once the apartments in the current inventory have been built? Not necessarily. The planning inventory included with this data does not take into account urban renewal or National Masterplan 38 (NMP38), which as we saw in this column, encompasses within its framework alone a further 3,550 potential new apartments in Jerusalem. It seems that urban renewal, or "compressing" the existing building situation is the principal option for housing development in the city.

Apart from that, a large portion of those who will live in the apartments yet to be built will come to the metropolitan centers for work, studies, leisure, etc. When examining the residential inventory according to metropolis, it emerges that most of the apartments in Israel's planning inventory (57% of the total number of apartments in the inventory) are located in the four metropolises. Thus it seems that the metropolitan centers are guaranteed a growing and developing hinterland, although while in metropolitan Tel Aviv there are 107,100 apartments in the inventory, in metropolitan Jerusalem there are only 27,800.  And furthermore, fewer than 60% of the apartments in the inventory in metropolitan Haifa and Jerusalem are in relatively advanced planning stages (with approval or lodging of objections), while more than 70% of the apartments in Tel Aviv and Beersheba are already in these advanced stages.

Translated by Gilah Kahn

Friday, March 23, 2018

Women in hi-tech

Shachar Bar

Hi-tech sector is an important growth engine for the Israeli economy. The number of hi-tech companies in Jerusalem has been consistently increasing since 2013, with an overall growth rate of 52%.

Companies in Jerusalem account for 6% of the entire Israeli hi-tech industry. For the last four years, 100 new hi-tech startups have been created each year.
Is this growth reflected in the percentage of women employed in the industry? Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In Jerusalem, 84% of the hi-tech companies are small, with up to 20 employees. Although 39% of the workforce in these companies are women, we need to take into consideration that many of the administrative positions are filled by women. In new companies, however, only 29% of employees are women. This difference stems mainly from the composition of these new companies. New companies tend to employ people only in professional positions, since they have little need for administrative help, and as a result, the percentage of women among employees is lower. In addition, data show that only a tiny percentage of entrepreneurs are women, which is another reason for the low number of women employed in new small hi-tech companies. In hi-tech companies in Jerusalem,  61% of women work in professional positions. In contrast, 71% of the women in new companies are employed in professional positions.

The total number of workers in the Israeli hi-tech industry rose from 272,200 in 2013 to 310,300 in 2016. The percentage of women employed in the industry has remained stable throughout the different regions in Israel. For example, in Tel Aviv, women make up one-third of employees in hi-tech companies, a statistic that has remained constant in recent years.

In Jerusalem, however, the situation has improved in recent years. In 2016, 39% of hi-tech workers were women, which is 3% higher than it was in 2013. In fact, in the biotech sector, women make up the majority of employees. In new biotech companies, women make up a whopping 59% of employees. One possible explanation for the high number of women working in biotech is their preference for studying subjects such as life sciences, as opposed to subjects like computer sciences.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.