More Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jews buck tradition and head for the army, higher ed

Source: Religion News Service

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Moshe Lifshitz, an haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Israeli, studies Torah while in the Israeli army. Lifshitz broke with his community’s tradition when he chose to enlist in the Israeli army rather than apply for an exemption to study Torah full-time. Photo courtesy of Moshe Lifshitz

JERUSALEM (RNS) — Moshe Lifshitz says he always felt motivated to serve in the Israeli army even though, as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, he was entitled to a military exemption.

“I don’t know where my desire to serve in the IDF came from, but I’ve always felt it,” said Lifshitz, who spent three years in a combat unit and still performs yearly reserve duty.

“My father didn’t serve and neither did my nearly 100 cousins, not that I hold it against them.”

Lifshitz is one of a growing number of ultra-Orthodox — also known as haredi — men who have defied expectations and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces. They join despite often intense pressure from other haredim to study sacred texts full time and avoid the military.

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