haredi - Daniel Bar-On - August 3 2011
A religious man at work. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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More than 20 percent of ultra-Orthodox men who received exemptions from army service because they are registered as full-time yeshiva students are working illegally, and take home an average of NIS 3,300 a month including their yeshiva stipend, indicates a recent report.

The report, by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, also found that many rabbis in this sector advise their students to volunteer for national service.

The study, conducted this year, included a sample of 605 yeshiva students - nearly all the ultra-Orthodox national service volunteers who began their service in 2009.

The research was intended to determine who chooses to volunteer, in order to ultimately increase the total number of volunteers.

The study showed that most of the ultra-Orthodox volunteers are between ages 24 and 30, are married, and have one or two children.

The report found that 21.8 percent worked before they began their national service, backing previous research indicating that many ultra-Orthodox men receiving study stipends are working illegally.

In order to be accepted into the national service program, ultra-Orthodox candidates must be at least 22 years old and must have received a draft deferral for at least four years.

Of the respondents who said they were employed, they said they worked an average of 28 hours a week and earned an average of NIS 29 per hour. Meanwhile, they received the NIS 850-a-month stipend for kollel students, and thus brought home about NIS 3,300 a month.

According to the 2002 Tal Law, which enables yeshiva students to continue receiving exemptions as long as they meet certain requirements, a yeshiva student who studies 45 hours a week can work in his spare time. However, someone working 45 hours is unlikely to be working for another 28 hours, meaning the respondents were working while studying part-time, or not studying at all.

The study also found that 64 percent of the volunteers' rabbis encouraged them to sign up for national service, while 18 percent were opposed.

Regarding their attitudes toward Israeli society in general, they were asked whether they would serve with people less religious than themselves, and 54 percent said they would. In addition, 73 percent said everyone had equal obligations regardless of religious belief.