In response to “Charedi Women Increasingly Having It All” (Dec. 29), I would like to add a bit of our experience regarding charedi women in Israel.
There is no question that the cycle of poverty has affected the thinking of many charedim. With more than 60 percent of the charedi population in Israel living under the poverty line, families are looking for alternatives to improve their financial situation. We see more and more women going into technology and positions that differ from the more traditional professions.
The “Start-Up Nation” element in Israel has largely passed over the charedi population, with charedi women comprising only 0.4 percent of the entire high-tech sector in Israel earning $5,000 a month (a mid-level salary). However, more and more charedi women are now looking to join the Start-Up Nation, and in order to do this an academic education is often required. No doubt that in certain cases this includes pushing off the establishment of the family.
At the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) – Lev Academic Center, in which almost all charedi women studying computer science in Israel attend, the numbers are growing. An astounding 19 percent of women studying computer science in Israel are charedi women.
In order to balance starting a family with the desire to find a way to support their future families, charedi women have begun to attend institutions of higher education immediately after completing seminary, rather than continuing in some of the vocational training courses offered at the seminaries. Most have one or more children during their degree work. But with dedication, academic, financial support and even emotional support when necessary, they complete their studies with impressive grades. These students prove that by earning a degree, they can escape the cycle of poverty without having to abandon the values of Judaism, their families or the tradition on which they were brought up.
Vice President Jerusalem College of Technology – Lev Academic Center