Approximately 1.3-million of Israel’s 9-million citizens are ultra orthodox, or, haredim. They have large families and the men overwhelmingly choose to study religious texts full time rather than work. The state provides them with living and other stipends that perpetuate entrenched cycles of poverty, which the haredim seem to embrace. Problem is, the tax-paying, general population is not growing as quickly, meaning that such state largesse is not sustainable. A severe economic crisis is imminent but haredi political and rabbinic leaders and their communities seem oblivious. Their calling, they think, is a higher one; to protect the Jewish people through their piety. Most Israelis disagree. As does haredi educator Menachem Bombach. He is determined to demonstrate to haredim that it is not only necessary that they work to support their families but that there is great honor in doing so. His network of schools teaching haredi boys core subjects like English and Math, is revolutionary among haredim and making waves. Big waves. Bombach hopes that the waves are soon a tsunami, transforming Israeli society for the better. We speak at length in today’s episode with the brilliant and inspiring Rabbi Menachem Bombach.
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