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'Some haredim prefer to conceal their work in the security forces' Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
'Some haredim prefer to conceal their work in the security forces' Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
 
 

Haredim trade IDF for police service

Following rift between army and religious soldiers, dozens of young ultra-Orthodox men choose to join police force, where they are promised better conditions matching their religious beliefs

Akiva Novick
Published: 01.17.12, 13:29 / Israel Jewish Scene

Dozens of young ultra-Orthodox men are choosing to join the Israel Police instead of the IDF, following the army's war on the exclusion of women and the recent dismissal of the rabbi in charge of integrating haredim into military service.

 

In the police, the new recruits are promised better conditions matching their religious beliefs, such as complete gender segregation and strictly kosher meals.

 

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Some 30 haredim have joined the Traffic Police in the past year, where they enjoy special conditions. The police service program is an alternative for compulsory military service.

 

Following the growing rift between the army and religious soldiers, the police aim to recruit at least 100 new haredi policemen. The new recruits may also serve in the police's 100 emergency call center.

 

Apart from the complete separation from women, the police are trying to lure the young haredim with additional benefits like easier service conditions and a special permit to take off their uniform upon leaving the station.

 

"This is a significant benefit for the haredi public, as there are those who prefer to conceal their work in the security forces," explains one of the haredi policemen serving as part of the special program.

 

"In the police we won’t face problems of women singing. They have a lot of respect for religion and religious policemen there, and they won't hurt my feelings," says one of the young men considering joining the police.

 

'Our lifestyle will be honored here'

A former Chabad Hasid who has already begun serving as a policeman says a daily Talmud lesson is being held in one of the Traffic Police units.

 

"The moment I realized what was going on in the IDF, I decided to move to the police," says Shneor Hababo, a 23-year-old haredi man from the southern city of Kiryat Malachi.

 

"I can't be part of a system where I might be forced to listen to women singing," he says. "The person who convinced me to move was the chief of staff, when he said we would be forced to do things that contradict our belief – like listen to women singing."

 

Last week, Hababo arrived with five of his friends for a special meeting at the Kiryat Malachi Police, where they made a final decision to join the police force.

 

"Some of us are being transferred from the army and some are directly being drafted into the police. We enlist as fighters, make more money than in the army and receive explicit assurance that our lifestyle will be honored," one of them said.

 

The person who identified the haredi potential is Commander Alex Pearlman, head of the Traffic Police's Planning and Development Department.

 

Pearlman told the Chabad Info website," I heard about the IDF's haredi service program, and I thought to myself that we in the police should introduce such a project as well."

 

He said he was working on significantly expanding the project. "I am in close contact with the commanders in Ramla, Tel Aviv and Beersheba, so I can be sure that there won’t be any mishaps.

 

"I am in no competition against the IDF and I have no intention of taking away any of their potential recruits, but this is definitely a very important issue for me."

 

 

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