International Handbook of Jewish Education

Volume 5 of the series International Handbooks of Religion and Education pp 1063-1080


Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi Education

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Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism developed in the modern era as an isolationist reaction against the ways in which the freedoms of modernity pushed Jews away from strict observance of Jewish law. Haredi Jews view Torah study as particularly central, even as the very purpose of creation. Therefore, the Haredi educational system for men discourages general education and is designed to encourage them to gain independence and expertise in the Talmud along with a personal piety that comes with that expertise. Men are expected to be involved in full-time Torah study well into adulthood. For women, the educational system inculcates the value of feminine domesticity and sexual modesty, while downplaying abstract text-knowledge. Women are to grow into mothers, wives, and (paradoxically) often breadwinners in order to support their husbands’ Torah study. While the Haredi community has enjoyed a period of significant growth in the past decades, its educational system currently suffers from a severe financial crisis and from a perceived increase in drop-outs and defectors.