Volume 14, 2009 : Women in Israeli Judaism

The Learners’ Society:
Education and Employment among Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Women

Rivka Neria-Ben Shahar
Department of Communications
Ariel Academic Center, Israel

The author reports her data on the patterns and associations between some key socio-demographic variables (age, education, employment, numbers of children, and exposure to Haredi and secular media) in a sample of 300 women of Hassidic and Lithuanian (Litaim) communities in Jerusalem. This sample demonstrates relatively high rates of post-secondary education and gainful employment among Haredi women, characteristics that are associated with lower fertility rates and higher consumption of secular Israeli media. Women of the Lithuanian community are more often foreign-born, have a more liberal background, are better educated and show more diverse patterns of employment, often in skilled occupations. Hassidic women typically have fewer years of formal study, lower rates of employment, and less common use of secular media. In both communities, working women with higher education have fewer children. The author concludes that Haredi women are gradually narrowing the gap with mainstream Israeli society as a result of their participation in the labor market, exposure to secular mass media and public sphere in general.

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