Israeli President Rueven Rivlin and experts from around the world will attend a 3-day international conference in Jerusalem starting Dec. 28 focusing on empowering Haredi Jews through employment and job training. The event — hosted by the Mafteach employment center network, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and the government of Israel — will offer Haredi community leaders, educators, politicians, and employers a venue to discuss ways of reducing poverty in Haredi society by helping individuals find jobs while taking into account religious sensitivities.

‘We’re proud to join our partners in the Israeli government, Haredi community, and Mafteach centers in providing this critical platform to build on the successes of the job-training programs we started together nearly a decade ago,’ said Prof. Yossi Tamir, Director of JDC-Israel. ‘We’ve seen employment among Haredim soar and this conference creates a timely opportunity to share the knowledge we’ve gained so far with colleagues around the world and learn from their experience in return.’

Topics on the conference’s agenda include Yeshiva accreditation, culturally sensitive employment screenings and a comprehensive examination of the future of Haredi employment policy. Participants will also go on site visits where they will meet with Haredi trainees and learn about their experience. The first and second days of the gathering will be private while the third will be open to the public.

JDC-founded Mafteach employment centers reach out to corporate partners throughout Israel who are looking for skilled workers in order to meet the needs of a rapidly growing, high-tech economy. Over 26,000 Haredi adults have walked through the doors of the eight centers established to date, and almost two-thirds of them have jobs today. Trainees are taught a wide range of skills including English, vocational training, job placement, career development, career advancement and resume-writing courses. Two new centers in Netivot and Modiin Ilit are scheduled to open next month.

Government representatives at the conference will include Mayor of Beitar Illit and Chairman of the Orthodox Mayors’ Forum Rabbi Meir Rubinstein, National Economic Council Chairman Professor Eugene Kendel, and Ministry of Economy Deputy General for Employment Michal Tzuk and others.

In addition to JDC’s Tamir, experts slated to speak at the Jerusalem conference include: Ruben Gorbatt, Director of JDC-Israel TEVET Haredi Employment programs; Dr. Sigal Shelach, Director of JDC TEVET; Mosche Schapiro, CEO at Yedidut Toronto and the Friedberg Foundation; and Dr. Gilad Malach of the Haredi Program at the Israel Democracy Institute.

Philip — a 24-year-old Czech-born Israeli — is one of many whose lives have changed thanks to their participation in Haredi job training programs. As a farmer in the Haredi community of Kommimiyut, his income used to be seasonal and sparing. Now he works for a Coca Cola and the additional money helps pay his mortgage and school for his children.

‘Everybody does it where I live– Shabbos is Shabbos and the other days of the week we work,’ adding that he still learns every night in his community.

JDC’s employment programs for Haredim are made possible through the generous support of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, the Maks and Lea Rothstein Charitable Youth Trust, the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Leichtag Foundation, Joe Lebovic, The Stern Family Foundation, the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and UJA-Federation of New York.