In rise of ultra-Orthodox, challenges for Israel

Dramatic changes may be coming in Israel: Demographers now estimate about a third of last year’s Jewish babies were born into the ultra-Orthodox community, an insular and devout minority that has long been at loggerheads with the rest of the increasingly modern and prosperous country.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews – known in Hebrew as “Haredim,” or “those who tremble” before God – have a birthrate far higher than that of other Israeli Jews, with 10 children in a single family not uncommon. They seem poised to become far more numerous and influential.

Relations between Haredim and other Israelis have never been smooth. Critics have long complained that they shun work in large numbers in favor of religious study, rejecting mainstream Israel even as they rely on that mainstream for financial support.

But increasingly, even some Haredim share a sense that things cannot continue as they are, reports the Associated Press.

Dateline Australia presented the following report:


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This post was last updated: Friday, January 14, 2011 at 1:52 PM, Central European Time (CET)