A rise of ultra-Orthodox challenges for Israel?

Nick the Pilot

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Tokyo, Japan
In rise of ultra-Orthodox, challenges for Israel - Yahoo! News

JERUSALEM – Dramatic changes may be coming in Israel: Demographers now estimate about a third of last year's Jewish babies were born into the ultra-Orthodox community, an insular and devout minority that has long been at loggerheads with the rest of the increasingly modern and prosperous country.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews — known in Hebrew as "Haredim," or "those who tremble" before God — have a birthrate far higher than that of other Israeli Jews, with 10 children in a single family not uncommon. They seem poised to become far more numerous and influential.

Relations between Haredim and other Israelis have never been smooth. Critics have long complained that they shun work in large numbers in favor of religious study, rejecting mainstream Israel even as they rely on that mainstream for financial support.

But increasingly, even some Haredim share a sense that things cannot continue as they are.

"The Haredim have set up a state within a state and have a long conflict with the state of Israel, which is now on the eve of an explosion," said Kobi Arieli, a popular radio host and author from the liberal edge of the Haredi community. "There is no chance that this situation will continue."