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Monday, June 26, 2006

Ultra-Orthodox Attorneys

A new Ultra-Orthodox program at Kiryat Ono Academic College is producing thousands of Charedi students with law and business degress, both men and women.
These ultra orthodox lawyers represent a quiet revolution-taking place in that community in recent years. They are going out to work. Among the 40 new lawyers are the children of religious regional council officials and rabbinical scholars. 140 additional attorneys in training are currently doing their internships.

Oy Gevalt! A tank top

The campus looks like a shtetl. Standards of modesty are strictly adhered to. The men and women study on separate days. Lecturers are asked to apply self-censorship in their communications with students and to dress modestly. A lecturer who arrived in a tank top was asked by the students to wear more modest attire.

The course began in 2002 and 1,500 have already enrolled in the law faculty, business administration, computers and accounting. There is a preparatory course in which students improve their skills in math, English, Hebrew etc. The course is offered to married people only. In order to ensure the men do not abandon Torah studies, acceptance to the school requires the permission of the head of the Kollel religious seminary with which the potential student is affiliated.

I find this very heartening. I have been worried for some time now about the direction the Charedi word has been taking, particularly in Israel, with regard to the social acceptability of earning a living. Though sitting in Yeshiva and learning has always been the ideal for the very learned and pious of the community, the choice to do so has become more of a standard, creating a financial crisis of ballooning proportions.

The thought that there is increased acceptance, and now resources such as this program, for the Ultra-Orthodox in the community who do not feel that they are "cut out" for the Kollel lifestyle - or more fascinatingly, their wives, who choose to support the family, is something of a relief.

In addition to being role models for financial responsibility, these new lawyers actually bring some very valuable perspective to the courtroom:
Two days before graduation, the new lawyers visited the Supreme Court. They entered the various courtrooms and imagined the time when they would be litigating. The last time they visited the Supreme Court was six years ago in a demonstration of the ultra orthodox community against the court. Now there are on the other side of the barricade, but it appears that their legal studies have not changed their attitude towards the Supreme Court.

Yonni Faloch, whose mother is the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Ultra Orthodox community, said that the Supreme Court doesn’t understand the needs of his community. “Their rulings do not stem from an anti religious bias: whoever thinks so is misguided. I believe that at some point ultra orthodox judges will sit on the Supreme Court bench and that will minimize the polarization in the society. We will have a presence in courtrooms and people will get to know us. They will understand that the ultra orthodox do not have horns – just beards and moustaches.”
One complication that the article points out is questions about whether the new attorneys are going to take on clients who do not observe Shabbat and Kashrut, and as of now, they choose not to prosecute cases that does not relate in some way to Torah, though they can defend them.

Hatzlacha to these trailblazers.

Hattip: Jameel, who is the place to go for info on the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped yesterday.

17 Comments:

Blogger SephardiLady said...

This is very heartening and I can't imagine that when the changes are felt in society that a new level of understanding between societies that stems from more knowledge will bring common ground.

9:39 AM  
Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Good step to take.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

This solves two major problems at once - the kollel/economic issue AND the shortage of Jewish lawyers!

But seriously, this seems to be quite the positive development.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Scraps said...

Question--how will they get work permits without having done army service? The women may be okay, but the men could run into problems, no?

10:41 AM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Trailblazers? In this country the hareidi have been attorneys for years.

And if they honestly won't submit claims that do not have a Torah source, well, in the US, such an attorney would swiftly be disbarred if they ended up hurting the interest of a client as a result.

I'd say they should all go into corporate law then but Israel's market isn't big enough for it.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hagtbg, the women are certainly trailblazers, especially in this chareidi community.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Anonymous,

Fine you and OrthoMom are right.

OrthoMom think they are trailblazers for deciding not to starve.

You think its a trailblazer situation because the women (who are the one's that do most above board work) are now choosing to become attorneys.

Even though chareidi and MO women are attorneys in the US and, one suspects, other countries.

Listen, seriously I wish them well. I have no reason to doubt its a good move for them.

But should I be impressed that they have chosen not to starve? Or live off the dole?

Or should I believe that the Israeli hareidi community is viewed as a parasite even on this blog to the degree that we shout joy that their members are getting jobs.

You are impressed because these people came from known families in those communities. They are not doing anyone else a favor, they certainly don't view it as such, and I don't treat it as such. Nor are they first.

If we've set the bar so low that this is considered good news then one should cry and not be happy.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You incorrectly state that the ideal is to sit and learn and not work. In fact, living off public money and not working is strongly discouraged by numerous sources in the mishna, gemara etc. It is unfortunate that many have come to belive that long term kollel study is ideal -- this is a modern creation of chareidi society in the last half the twentieth cetury that has no precedent in Jewish history.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Anon 1:05 - I'm no expert on this, but I'm fairly certain that the basic concept of kollel (leaving out criticisms of its application) has been sanctioned as a legitimate, and indeed for some people ideal, way to go about things in today's world - even though in the past it has not been. My memory's rusty but I'm fairly certian the Aruch HaShulchan discusses this very issue that you bring up

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, I took om's talk of ideal to be referring to an ideal that is relative to the israeli charedi world. Om, please correct if I'm wrong.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Somewhat Anon - I do believe that anon 1:05 is correct. My brother learns full-time, but in his yeshiva the approach is that either you are sacrificing a lot or you are fortunate to be supported - the "ideal" of kollel study is only if you are willing to live with that, not if you plan on living off others.

OM - FWIW, I believe that there were already such programs in many other professions in Israel. I recall a cousin's wife getting training in one, while his new daughter-in-law was well on her way to becoming a CPA (at 21).

7:22 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

OM - FWIW, I believe that there were already such programs in many other professions in Israel. I recall a cousin's wife getting training in one, while his new daughter-in-law was well on her way to becoming a CPA (at 21).

I think this is catering to a particularly charedi set - more like the Bnei Brak community, and also this caters to charedi men as well, which is the difference here.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Ezzie - granted, and I don't disagree that to live the kollel lifestyle without sacrificing (assuming one does not have a private source of funds) is a problem. I was addressing the matter of kollel being a historical innovation, not the proper manner in which kollel learning is to be conducted.

Unless I am misunderstanding you and you are saying that your brother's kollel provides no support at all? (I don't think so, but I'm just checking)

7:59 PM  
Blogger Enigma4U said...

"We will have a presence in courtrooms and people will get to know us. They will understand that the ultra orthodox do not have horns – just beards and moustaches.”

I hope the female graduates make the effort to shave theirs off.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Scraps said...

I heard of a program maybe a year or two ago that trains young chareidi men in carpentry half the day and then they learn half the day. The furniture they make in the program is donated to needy families. That way, they get to learn Torah, learn a trade, and do chessed all at once. :)

10:03 AM  
Blogger FrumellasGoneWild said...

We will have a presence in courtrooms and people will get to know us. They will understand that the ultra orthodox do not have horns – just beards and moustaches.”

""I hope the female graduates make the effort to shave theirs off.""

Actually some women *do* have horns hidden under their snoods, tichels, and sheitels.

12:02 AM  
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