During its six decades of existence, Israel has maintained a shaky alliance with its ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority that allowed most religious men to avoid military service, attend separate schools and get paid by the state to study the Bible instead of entering the work force.
But this system is coming under new scrutiny, pressured by a series of Supreme Court rulings, an ambitious education minister and the hugely unpopular cost of sustaining a fast-growing ultra-Orthodox population that has few skills for the 21st century and now accounts for one in four Jewish first graders – and growing.
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