On February 11, 2013 the Mandel Leadership Institute hosted an evening on "The Haredi Community as a Resource for Israeli Society: Trends, Changes, and Leadership Training," as part of the Bimat Mandel series. Participants in the Mandel Programs for Leadership Development in the Haredi Community presented their work, and various issues relating to the Haredi community in Israel were discussed.
Some 130 invited guests attended the evening, including fellows, graduates, and faculty of Mandel programs as well as representatives of public- and third-sector organizations in the fields of social welfare and education.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Eli Gottlieb, director of MLI, dedicated the evening in memory of two outstanding figures: Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute; and Prof. Seymour Fox, one of the founders of the Mandel Leadership Institute.
The participants also heard from Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who noted: "On the one hand, we are committed to 'the Book,' and on the other, to 'the People of the Book', that is, to a society that must discover what we have in common, and from there move on to plans of action."
Naomi Perl, director of the Mandel Programs for Leadership Development in the Haredi Community, and founder of the Shluchei Tzibur (community leaders) program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, remarked: "This evening, we are opening a window onto the internal ferment and the processes taking place in a community not especially well-regarded in public discourse, a community presented as a burden, and at times, even a threat. I wish to argue that haredi society is a tremendous, meaningful resource for rejuvenating Israeli society, thanks, in no small measure, to processes like those we will be glimpsing today... This integration, and this resource, represent a huge challenge for all of us. We must understand that we are a society built on difference. And it is this difference—encompassing the qualities of the diverse groups within it—that is the solution, and not the problem."
The opening session of the evening was entitled "Haredim in Israel - The Next Resource: Trends, Changes, and the Contribution of the Haredi Community to the Revival of Israeli Society." Speaking at this session, along with Naomi Perl, were Prof. Ruth Gavison, recipient of the Israel Prize, philosophy of law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and fighter for human and civil rights and for the rule of law in Israel;Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, and head of the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Change; and Bezalel Cohen, a graduate of MSEL cohort 19, and principal of a new model yeshiva high school currently being established.
The next part of the evening consisted of five parallel sessions focusing on central issues in the Haredi community:
- Higher Education
- Communication and public discourse
- Haredi civic involvement
- A dialogue and group study session, titled "Between the World of Halacha and Western Values", and led by Prof. Moshe Halbertal, professor of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
At the end of the evening, the audience and session presenters gathered to review and share their discussions, with Prof. Moshe Halbertal delivering the closing remarks.
Prof. Moshe Halbertal recently published an article on drafting Haredim to the IDF, in the weekend supplement of "Haaretz" of March 1, 2013. The article (in Hebrew) can be read here.