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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Fox

The Israeli Haredim

You have probably seen Haredim before – the uniform of men in black and white, the hats, the long, curly sideburns (peot), and tzitzit. And the women in long dresses/skirts with their hair covered. But who are the Haredim? How did this unique culture develop?

A Jewish man wearing a streimel and tallit walking through the Old City in Jerusalem

In the 19th century, European Jews were beginning to integrate and assimilate into secular European society. To try to preserve tradition, Haredi culture developed. The Holocaust only served to amplify this after the fact—where the majority of Haredim then settled in Israel and America. There are various different sects within the blanket term “Haredi” and each varies slightly in dress and ideals.

Haredim are Orthodox Jews who follow strict halaha or Jewish laws/practices. That means adhering to strict dietary guidelines, keeping the Holy Sabbath, a strict way of dressing, and more. The word “Haredi” comes from Biblical Hebrew – and translates roughly to “trembles” at the word of God.

A Jewish man wearing a black hat and coat leaning on the Western Wall

Their neighborhoods tend to be insular – with their own schools, temples, and organizations. Families tend to have many children. Although 53% of Haredim in Israel are below the poverty line, 71% are satisfied with where they stand economically – given there is less of an emphasis on materialism in their community. Cool, right?

Are you interested in learning more about the Haredim?

1) Take the tour called “Meet the Ultra-Orthodox Jews” - a great way to explore a traditional ultra-orthodox neighborhood!

2) Check out some of the many series on Netflix about ultra-orthodox Judaism. For example Shtisel or Unorthodox.


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