Haredi Conscription

The Israel Defense Forces, as the ‘people’s army,’ have long served a dual purpose as the protector of the state and as an institution where Israelis from almost all sectors of society serve together, and forge shared experiences a values.

The exemption granted to the ultra-Orthodox community from mandatory service in the IDF has served as a point of contention for decades and is compounded by the fast growth rate of the Haredi community leading to over 10,000 annual exemptions for men of conscription age who are registered as yeshiva students.

As a result of the ongoing war and Israel’s increasing security needs, the Ministry of Defense and the IDF have demanded additional manpower and proposed changes to the service model that would exacerbate the heavy burden on those who are already serving, increasing inequalities between them and sectors who have not taken up this mantle.

The vast majority of Israelis now support changes to the model of service to ensure a more equal sharing of the country’s security burden.

With the current conscription law and the exemptions it granted to yeshiva students nearing expiration, there is currently no legal arrangement validating exemption of the ultra-Orthodox men from conscription. This has created an additional point of contention as it has removed the legal basis for funding the religious institutions attended by students who do not serve in the IDF.




Response to the Government's Proposal for Haredi (non-) Conscription
A Timeline of the Development of the Haredi Exemption Law - Prof. Yuval Shany & Adv. Mirit Sharabi
IDI Analysis: 7.3% Surge in Yeshiva and Kollel Students - Yohanan Plesner & Dr. Gilad Malach
Military Service Law and Reserve Service Law Amendments (extensions of mandatory and reserve period): Legal Opinion


Timeline: The Ultra-Orthodox and the IDF Draft        What Would a Fair Draft Law Look Like?   

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Publications Regarding Haredi Conscription



The latest military exemption law - a return to the 2022 (non-) conscription law

The proposed law ignores the dramatic change in Israel's security situation since October 7 and does not address the need for more combat soldiers, nor does it respect the burden on the populations that already serve.


Quantity and Cost of Reserve Service in the Event that Haredim Enter Regular and Reserve Service in the IDF

We examine the increased burden of reserve service that the defense establishment is seeking to impose on the population groups that already perform regular and reserve service, and the economic-budgetary implications of this step for the period through to 2050.

Research Reel

Alternative Yeshivas and Changing Perspectives Among Haredi Youth

Dr. Asaf Malchi's research explores the perspective of yeshiva students, their personal and social challenges and highlights a subgroup of 'alterative yeshivas' and their shifting perspectives on vocational training and employment.

Research Reel

A Fair Draft Law, What Would That Look Like?

IDI's Dr. Gilad Malach explains what a fair draft law for the ultra-Orthodox would look like. One that would distribute the burden over Israel's security more equally while enabling young Haredi men to integrate into the job market.


From the World of Torah Study to the World of Work: Social Challenges and Employment Potential Among Haredi Yeshiva Students

This study was designed to assess the level of satisfaction among students in higher yeshivot (ages 17 and above), their personal and social challenges, and their attitudes toward possible alternatives to yeshiva studies, such as vocational training and employment.


I, Too, Have Come to my Senses: It is Time to Rethink the Haredi Role in Israeli Society

Dr. Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar proposes a model that resembles the secular educational system of colleges and universities to identify the most gifted torah scholars, who would receive a generous stipend. Others must rethink their role as part of Israeli society.

Special Survey

Majority of Israelis give low ratings to Prime Minister Netanyahu; high ratings to IDF Chief of Staff

The majority of Israelis gave Prime Minister Netanyahu low ratings (57%), while IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi topped the rankings of positive performance (48%). More than two-thirds of Israelis think we are on the verge of an all-out-war with Hezbollah – 69%.

Professional Opinion

Response to the Government's Proposal for Haredi (non-) Conscription

Response to the Government's Proposal for Haredi (non-) Conscription by Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute, and Dr. Gilad Malach, Head of IDI's Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

Professional Opinion

Military Service Law and Reserve Service Law Amendments (extension of mandatory and reserve service period): Professional Opinion

The government wishes to amend the Military Service Law and Reserve Service Law due to the new security circumstances arising from the outbreak of the war in Gaza. While recognizing the immediate imperative to respond to IDF's personnel needs, we oppose these legislative proposals. 

Israeli Voice Index

Large Majority of Jewish Israelis Want Changes to the Conscription Law

Most Israelis would like to see the exemption given to the Haredi community changed; when asked whether the Israel can continue relying on the US's support, public opinion was divided, with an inclination toward continued reliance; around half of Israelis think Israel's standing in the international arena is not good.


Development of the Haredi Exemption Law

The history of the ultra-Orthodox exemption from service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), from the 1948 until today. 


IDI Analysis: 7.3% Surge in Yeshiva and Kollel Students

Yohanan Plesner, president of IDI and head of the 2012 Plesner committee which sought to implement a model of "service for all," and Dr. Gilad Malach, head of the ultra-Orthodox program at IDI, share their analysis of the rapid increase in the number of yeshiva and kollel students over the past year. 


Explainer: The Supreme Court hearing on (non) recruitment of ultra-Orthodox men and budgeting of yeshivas

What is the connection between the expiration of the conscription law and the budgets for yeshivas? What exactly was discussed in the Supreme Court and is the state in violation of the law? Bottom line, will the ultra-Orthodox be recruited, or not?


Follow the Money: On the War, Drafting the Yeshiva Students, and the State Budget

The legal basis for deferring military service for Yeshiva students no longer exists, removing legal justification for the transference of funds to religious institutions with students under 26. Funding for Torah study institutions is the most substantial question that needs to be addressed at the current time, when Israeli society is rethinking its relations with the Haredi public. 

Rabbinical Elites Versus Traditionalists: IDF Conscription Law Reveals Rifts in Shas Party

Internal struggles between factions within the Sepharadic ultra-religious movement Shas are only beginning. The absence of the unifying figure of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is still sorely felt, and only time will tell whether the rabbinical elite or the Knesset members representing a moderate electorate will gain the upper hand.


The Modern Haredi, As Envisioned by Rabbi David Leibel

Recently, a new answer to the dilemma of the 'modern Haredi' has been advanced enthusiastically by Rabbi David Leibel, one that maintains religiosity while increasing civic participation in the economy and in defense of Israel. 


Haredi Enlistment for the Current War with Hamas is a Sign of a New Model of Rabbinic Leadership

The heads of the established traditional Haredi yeshivot have instructed their institutions to continue studies as normal during the current state of emergency, in accordance with the belief in the power of Torah study to protect the people of Israel. By contrast, the messages heard from various other rabbis reflect an understanding of changing needs and offer a blueprint for a new leadership vision.


Haredi Enlistment In the IDF – A New Normal?

A growing number of Haredi men are volunteering for the IDF following the outbreak of the war against Hamas. This trend may signify that the “modern Haredi” phenomenon may be developing into a real movement.  


The IDF ‘Israel Service’ Plan is Complicated and Costly

How would different tracks of enlistment change the longstanding Israeli ethos of service and sacrifice for the state and society?


The IDF’s Greatest Challenge

The model underlying the IDF’s success is in grave danger -  we must have the courage to change its outdated model of service

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Even if we accept the argument that lowering the exemption age exacerbates existing discrimination, we should still assess the proportionality of this harm. Basic rights such as equality are not absolute, and are sometimes subject to restrictions in the face of a pressing public interest.


A Blow to the IDF as the ‘People’s Army’

A proposal by the panel appointed to investigate ultra-Orthodox enlistment to lower the exemption age defies multiple High Court rulings


What Really Lies behind the Rabbis’ Directive on Modesty?

What really lies behind the most recent rabbinical directive on modesty in the IDF - and how does it pits religious soldiers against IDF's core values to the extent of risking insubordination. 


Ultra-Orthodox Service in the IDF: An Ongoing Struggle

The tension between the "military service for all" and "exemption for all" represents the tradeoff between the quest for equality and the existing political-social reality.


Ultra-Orthodox National Civic Service

What is Wrong with the National Civic Service program for the Ultra-Orthodox and How to Reform It?


Climbing up the Socioeconomic Ladder: Military Service among the Ultra-Orthodox

Even though military service seems to be one of the most blatant threats to the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, it has become a rather attractive channel for broad segments of the community.


Citizenship and Military Service in Ultra-Orthodox Society

More and more ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Israelis are enlisting in the IDF, driven by personal, financial, and professional motives, with military service seen as an “entrance ticket” to Israeli society and to the labor market. But military service also introduces them to the shared components of identity and citizenship linking them to the state and its values, and enabling them to identify with others, from outside their community.

Press Release

Israel needs a draft law that will uphold the principle of civic equality


Now is the time to rise above petty politics and pass a draft law that will uphold the principle of civic equality in Israel.



Proposal for Amending Ultra-Orthodox Conscription Plan

IDI puts forth analysis of why the proposed conscription plan for the ultra-Orthodox is problematic and offers an alternative approach


What is the State’s Obligation to Soldiers who have been Captured while Fulfilling their Duty?

In an op-ed soon to be published by the Jerusalem Report, the former head of the Shin Bet security service argues that mutual responsibility is the cornerstone on which the resilience of Israeli society is founded, and is most strongly expressed in the commitment of the government of Israel to do everything possible to secure the release of its captured soldiers.


The Charedi Draft: Here We Go Again

The desired result could have been achieved quietly and efficiently had the Knesset adopted a rational arrangement that would encourage military service through positive and negative economic incentives. (This article was originally published in the Jewish Journal of LA.)


The Haredi Draft: Snakes and Ladders

Prof. Yedidia Stern analyzes the problems with past proposals to integrate the ultra-Orthodox sector into the IDF, and proposes a new solution.


Is There a Place for God in the Israeli Army?

In an article in the <em>Jewish Week</em>, IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern discusses the question of whether it is appropriate for commanders to use religious rhetoric in motivating their soldiers, and stresses the need for the Israeli army to represent all.


Ultra-Orthodox Integration: It Takes Two to Tango

In an op-ed in Ynet News, IDI researcher Dr. Haim Zicherman discusses the steps that Israeli society must take in order to enable ultra-Orthodox men to integrate into the Israeli army and workforce.


The IDF and the Ultra-Orthodox

As the Knesset prepares to vote on the "Draft Law" designed to regulate the service of ultra-Orthodox men in the Israel Defense Forces, Dr. Haim Zicherman surveys the current situation within Israel's Haredi community.


An Unequal Share of the Burden? The Truth about the Hesder Yeshivot

Do students in the religious Zionist hesder yeshivot really contribute less to the IDF than other men who serve? IDI Researcher Dr. Benny Porat does the math and comes to an interesting conclusion.


The Haredi Draft: Is the Shaked Committee's Bill Destined to be Overturned?

As the Shaked Committee begins to vote on its proposal for the Haredi draft, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern warns that the proposal's recommendation to exempt Haredi men of draft age during a three-year "adjustment period" is both inequitable and ineffective. 


The Haredi Draft: Equality Now?!

On November 21 2013, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern appeared before the Shaked Committee and argued that criminal sanctions are not recommended for reaching conscription goals. In an op-ed in Makor Rishon, he explains why.


How Can We Draft the Ultra-Orthodox with Consent?

Is it possible to draft the ultra-Orthodox and integrate them into Israel's society and economy in a mutually-agreeable manner that encourages solidarity between the different sectors of the Jewish people? Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern shares thoughts on wars between brothers and brothers-in-arms.


The Ultra-Orthodox Draft: Crossing the Third Rubicon

Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern and Attorney Haim Zicherman stress the need to break down barriers that are preventing Haredi service in the army and integration in the labor force, and warn against passing a popular but ill-advised reform. 


Haredi Integration: Not by Re-Education

IDI researcher Attorney Haim Zicherman warns against attempts to integrate ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army by encouraging them to abandon their lifestyle, and calls for developing mechanisms that will accept and respect their values. 


The Proposals for Drafting the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel: The Issues at Hand

IDI's Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer critiques various aspects of the proposals for integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the army and calls on the Israeli public to stand firm on its demand for an arrangement that is fair and equitable.


The Haredi Draft: The Need for an Alliance of the Moderates

Prof. Yedidia Stern calls for a historic alliance between religious and secular moderates that will yield a solution that will  that will yield a solution that addresses the need for ultra-Orthodox army service while taking into account the most important values of the Haredi community.


The Need for Equal Sharing of the Burden and Strengthening of Torah Study

The need for the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel to share the burden of military service and participate equally in the Israeli economy was a central issue in the 2013 elections. IDI researcher Dr. Benny Porat shares his thoughts on how to bring about this change in the Haredi community.


Habayit Hayehudi and Refusal of Orders: The Real Question

Naftali Bennett's statement that he would refuse orders if commanded to evacuate settlements raises questions about the type of insubordination that he and his party condone. In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, Prof. Yedidia Stern calls on Habayit Hayehudi to clarify its position on the matter.


Israeli Public Opinion on Drafting Haredi Yeshiva Students

An analysis of Israeli public opinion on the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, as revealed in polls conducted by IDI's Guttman Center for Surveys from 1986 through 2009.


The Haredim and the State of Israel

In an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, IDI's Prof. Yedidia Stern, who served on the Plesner Committee for Equality in National Service, and Mr. Jay Ruderman analyze the Haredi community's reluctance to serve in the Israeli army and present an approach that will facilitate Haredi integration into Israel's army and society.


Ultra-Orthodox Conscription: Making It Work

Will the High Court of Justice’s refusal to extend the Tal Law indeed reduce the inequality of burden sharing in Israeli society? IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Momi Dahan does not think so, and argues that ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel should be exempted from the army and allowed to work, so as to assume their fair share of the tax burden.


Do Not Put an End to Ultra-Orthodox Army Service

Following the dissolution of the Committee to Advance Equality in Sharing the Burden, committee head MK Yohanan Plesner submitted proposals for alternatives to the Tal Law. In this article, IDI Researcher Attorney Haim Zicherman, who served as the content coordinator of the Plesner Committee, warns that some of those measures were personal recommendations rather than recommendations of the Committee, and may reverse trends of increasing army service by ultra-Orthodox Jews.


The Tal Law: Judicial Responsibility at its Best

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer presents a contrasting view to Prof. Yedidia Stern's assertion that the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling on the exemption of ultra-Orthodox men from military service in Israel is "<a href="http://en.idi.org.il/analysis/articles/judicial-activism-at-its-height">Judicial Activism at its Height</a>." 

If They Give, They Will Receive

In this response to the Supreme Court ruling on the Tal Law, IDI Senior Researcher Yair Sheleg asserts that the exemption of ultra-Orthodox men from military service is an unparalleled <em>Hillul Hashem</em>—a desecration of the Name of God, and shares his views of a possible solution.


Make the Ultra-Orthodox Serve

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern sets the  controversy over mass transportation on Shabbat and holidays in Israel in a broader context, and distinguished between the need for an Israeli-Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) rather than a religious Shabbat.


The “People’s Army”?

This article presents the main milestones in the recurring attempts to put a satisfactory arrangement for the deferment of military service for yeshiva students in place. In doing so, it surfaces the changes that have occurred over time in the constitutional, legal, and public responses and attitudes on this issue.


Ultra-Orthodox in the IDF: A Ticking Time Bomb

To encourage enlistment, Israel should adopt a conscription model that is cognizant of the ultra-Orthodox fear of erosion of their identity and employs both positive and negative economic incentives.

Press Release

Supreme Court Strikes Down ultra-Orthodox Exemption From Military

IDI responds to high court ruling: “The time has come for our politicians to demonstrate leadership and work to enact a more equitable and effective arrangement.”


Springboard to Employment: How Ultra-Orthodox Men Benefit from IDF Service

Army service is an extremely powerful “employment engine” for most ultra-Orthodox men whose religious education does not provide them with the general background or professional training necessary for joining the work force outside the ultra-Orthodox sector.