Talmudic Coders

From the Daily Kickoff Email.

Talmudic Coders: Studying Talmud in the morning, writing code in the afternoon – An innovative program is bringing ultra-Orthodox Israeli men into the high-tech workforce: “Hidden above a seminary in the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, some 20 young men are hard at work in the offices of software company Ravtech Beit Tochna Torani. They’re building mobile applications and websites. Representing a cross section of Haredi society, these men lacked even a basic knowledge of math or English as recently as last year. Now they combine Talmud studies in the morning with programming in the afternoon and evening.

–Defined as a social enterprise, the company works closely with Avratech, an organization that runs a software training program for Haredi men. The course of studies includes eight to 10 months of training starting with extreme basics such as the multiplication tables. The final stage is geared toward job skills and splits into specializations: mobile development (iOS, Android), website design (Java, HTML), and the testing of software for automated systems. While training, students receive a 2,000 shekel ($570) monthly stipend, equal to what they received during their studies in a kollel, a yeshiva for married men. And the course is fully subsidized.

–“The population arriving here is made up of people who decided at a certain stage that they need to make a living,” adds Aharon Safrai, Avratech’s director. “They can’t integrate in a secular workplace because having a religious work environment is important to them. And something else is important to them – quality hours of Talmud study in the morning.” “These are talented men who can quickly reach a level high enough to work,” says Mor. “They can work remotely and therefore don’t need to work at a secular company. There’s also the possibility of flexible work hours so they can pursue Torah studies part of the day. Many who came here said we rescued them.” [Haaretz]

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.