Religion & Beliefs

Can Anyone Actually Define “Haredi”?

Did anyone else catch that All Things Considered story this morning about the Haredi guy who joined the IDF?  (It isn't online yet, so I can't link it, but if you check HERE after 4 pm, you should find it) It … Read More

By / April 16, 2007

Did anyone else catch that All Things Considered story this morning about the Haredi guy who joined the IDF?  (It isn't online yet, so I can't link it, but if you check HERE after 4 pm, you should find it) It really got me thinking about some things.

First of all, while I knew that the Haredim were often exempt from serving in the military, I didn't know there was such a stigma attached to it.  I didn't know people got shunned (like, Amish shunned) for it. This story followed a soldier for an afternoon, as he revisited his old Haredi neighborhood in Tel Aviv, and was forced to meet a friend in secret. So that the stigma surrounding him wouldn't hurt his friend.  He seemed like a nice guy, and didn't regret his choice, but it made me sad, thinking about his family, and how much he missed them all.  Only one sister would see him, and then only in secret.

And so I looked online, to find an "official Haredi stance" on military service.  And I couldn't find what I was looking for.  But I know many of you have spent more time than I have in Israel, and some of you have likely served in the IDF.  So I thought I'd ask if anyone knows any more than I can find online.

But then, after I admitted defeat on that, I got to thinking about something else.  I got to thinking about the fact that I don't really even know what the word "Haredi" means, though I've linked it here before.  Sure, I can use it in a sentence, but I can't really define it.  Which is, I think, the case with a lot of Jewishy words (for me).  That I only have a vague sense of what things mean: 

Haredi= black hat, lots of babies, beards, see also people who think I'm naughty.

So then I went back online and looked it up.