Haredi National Service Volunteers Told to Punch the Clock

Some 1,600 ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students volunteer for national service across the country.

All ultra-Orthodox men doing national service will have to sign in and out when they arrive for volunteer work each day, the head of the national service administration said yesterday. The administration had found that many volunteers fail to show up.

Some 1,600 ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students volunteer for national service across the country. A government resolution stipulates that any man over 22 who has been excused from military service on grounds of religious studies can take up national service instead.

Haredi work
Daniel Bar-On / Jini

The new directive will be enforced as of this morning. The service required is eight hours a day for a year, or four hours a day for two years.

Most ultra-Orthodox men prefer to volunteer in community establishments like yeshivas, boarding schools, and rescue and recovery organization Zaka. Volunteers receive limited stipends during their service, up to NIS 2,400 per month for a married person.

After a number of incidents in which volunteers did not show up for work or failed to fulfill the daily quota, the head of the national service administration, Sar-Shalom Jerby, told all 213 organizations employing ultra-Orthodox volunteers to install a time clock. Such organizations include hospitals, charity organizations, Zaka, Chabad and Magen David Adom.

The decision comes amid other moves to increase state monitoring of the ultra-Orthodox community. Last month, the Education Ministry told yeshivas it would increase monitoring of student attendance and withdraw funding from yeshivas where truancy was over 15 percent.

Jerby told Haaretz that volunteering for national service was "an important contribution to society and to the community. We recently began to set up various training courses for volunteers and graduates of the service. Installing time clocks would prevent abuse of the national service system and ensure meaningful and effective service by thousands of volunteers."