Friday, April 16, 2010

Kollel 'Culture' II

The comments that were posted to my previous remarks are so important, that I decided to respond to them in a post of their own.

1) Malnutrition etc.- It is an open secret among welfare workers and therapists that 'holy poverty' leads to hunger, malnutrition, spousal and child abuse, abandonment, divorce, and sarvanut. These phenomena are not confined to the Baal Teshuvah population (as many FFB Haredim would like to believe). The tip of the iceberg has been addressed by Haredi columnist, Tali Farkas, on YNET.
(It's also not irrelevant to mention that the fantasy that everyone should be a Gadol ba-Torah and only learn Gemara is a central factor in the ever increasing phenomenon of Juvenile Delinquency, crime, abuse and abandonment of Judaism by Haredi men and women.)

2) At the same time, Haredim have perfected the art of exploiting the system (not, per se, contemnable). In the process, the community has developed an attitude of entitlement that is absolutely contemnable. The attitude is: You owe me a living and have to work to provide it.

3) It was observed that the statistics are questionable, because many Arabs and Haredim work 'off the books.' The statistics are easily available here. (Thanks to Religion and State for the link.) Not a few Haredim work off the books. However, I fail to see how that helps. They don't declare the income and they do absolutely nothing to contribute to the country. On the contrary, they both work off the books and take government and Kollel stipends. In brief, they're guilty of theft. Such people are halakhically רשעים and disqualified to serve as witnesses.

What should be done? I'm afraid that, given the doctrinal inflexibility of the Haredi leadership, the only thing to do is to drastically limit support of Kollelim, and largely stop that support after a certain age. Further support can be provided promising students, and those who commit to enter education (with education degrees). At the same time, the government will have to create the scenarios to train Kollel students in whatever field they want.

There will be incredible upheavals over this. However, if the abject failure of the rabbinic ban on the internet is any indication, the effort will ultimately succeed ויגדיל תורנה ויאדירה.


J. said...

What is needed is not just minimising support for kollelim - but also to ensure that Charedi children receive an education that allows them to gain gainful employment. The government has to stop funding schools which refuse to teach a basic national curriculum (as any other country does). If parents want to send their children to such schools, which promote dependency and poverty, then they can pay for it. The next question is how these things are achieved - given the power of Charedi parties in Israel's coaltions, I fear that there will not be any governments who are willing and able to do what must be done.

Anonymous said...

so what's causing the "ever increasing phenomenon of Juvenile Delinquency, crime, abuse and abandonment of Judaism" by men and women in Efrat/Gush Etzion?

Jeffrey Woolf said...

First, at least we don't have rickets...

The issues in the Gush are, ironically, not dissimilar but for other reasons. After long discussions with social workers and youth workers, it appears that a big part of the problem is having nothing to do. Also, it's not uncommon for MO parents to make the same parenting mistakes as the Haredim.

But my point here is not the children so much as the parasitic, exploitative and dangerous fallout from Kollel culture,

Anonymous said...

The report you mention has been attacked by many who are not fans of kollel culture (and not knee-jerk defenders of the Arabs either.) It's problematic.
That being said, it's pretty clear to me that once the Haredim abandon it they will be better prepared to deal with the onslaught of modern life than the modern orthdox are. I write this as a modern orthodox Jew, but I know what I see out there.