Israeli economy ministry reveals tech initiatives for haredim

Haredim in Israel (pictured) make up 12.5 percent of the total population in the country, up from 9 percent a decade ago. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Haredim in Israel (pictured) make up 12.5 percent of the total population in the country, up from 9 percent a decade ago. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Wall Street Journal reports on two new initiatives by the Israeli Ministry of Economy's chief scientist, Avi Hasson, intended to help haredi Jews learn technological skills. One initiative offers 200 hours of free mentoring to haredi entrepreneurs, while the other is a new state-funded program for haredi start-ups of up to 2 million Israeli shekels (about $578,200).

For every shekel the start-ups can get from a nongovernmental investor, “they can get 5.6 shekels from the government as an equity investment or loan that can be paid as a percent of future revenues,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Haredim men in Israel spend most of their time studying Torah. Just 45 percent of haredi men aged 25 to 64 were employed as of the first quarter of 2014, reports Israel's Ministry of Economy. At the same time, the overall haredi population in Israel makes up 12.5 percent of the total population in the Jewish state, up from 9 percent a decade ago, reports the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. The poverty rate in the haredi community rose from 44 percent to 57 percent in the past decade.

"More haredi tech employees means more tech employees and more innovation," Hasson told the Wall Street Journal.

Posted on June 10, 2014 .