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'Over 90% of Nahal Haredim employed'

דצמבר 25, 2007. Jerusalem Post: Yaakov Katz

A survey conducted among graduates of the Nahal Haredi military track found that over 90 percent are currently working in a wide range of jobs in both the private and public sectors.

The independent survey conducted by the Nahal Haredi Foundation - headed by Rabbi Zvi Klebanow - asked 466 of the nearly 1,000 graduates of the track's Netzah Yehuda infantry battalion where they were currently employed.

Except for 11 unemployed graduates and another 18 who were studying in yeshiva, the remaining 437 were all part of the workforce, holding jobs in hi-tech, management, security, engineering and education, including with the Israel Prisons Service.

The Nahal Haredi statistics contrast sharply with those revealed in a Van Leer Center study published in November, which showed that among the haredi population not serving in the IDF, some 40% of women were employed, and less than 40% of haredi men were.

Nahal Haredi, which belongs to the Kfir Brigade and is based in the Jordan Valley, was established eight years ago as a single company. Today, it is a full battalion with three companies and an elite counterterror squad.

To date, 2,100 haredi men have enlisted in the IDF through the Nahal Haredi track, including the Netzah Yehuda battalion.

Most of the battalion's 700 soldiers are recruited in Israel and come from a haredi or national religious background. After they complete two years of service, Nahal Haredi offers the soldiers resources to help them complete matriculation and pre-college studies.

"The statistics are a great success," Klebanow said Tuesday. "This is what the third year in Nahal Haredi is about - preparing soldiers to enter the workforce, get jobs and become productive citizens."

The results of the survey, Klebanow said, showed that Nahal Haredi was not only beneficial for the IDF, which gained additional soldiers, but also for the economy.

Had the haredi youth not enlisted in the IDF, they would currently, by law, not be allowed to work and contribute to the national economy.

"Besides giving the boys an opportunity to build themselves up in the army, we're also becoming a real key [in] the workforce," he said. "We are taking haredi boys and putting them to work, and this will help the economy."

On Sunday, OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni visited Netzah Yehuda battalion headquarters in the Jordan Valley.

One of the issues currently being discussed is the possibility of deploying the battalion in a different, more challenging region - the West Bank.

Since its establishment, the battalion has been stationed in the Jordan Valley, where it mans checkpoints, patrols the Jordanian border and conducts arrest raids in nearby Palestinian towns.

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