This week I was given the opportunity to be given a personal tour of the headquarters of the Belzer Hasidic movement in Jerusalem.
The building complex is very impressive and I plan to post a video of the tour of the huge synagogue itself soon.
While being showed around, I spoke to the Belzer representative, Yechezkal Friedman, about the major issues being discussed today concerning the hareidi community in Israel today, specifically the idea of being drafted for army or national service, the perception that the hareidim are freeloaders off of Israeli society and the hareidi economic model.
Whether you agree with the haredi movement or not, it is worthwhile hearing their point of view, which is a little more nuanced than how it is reported in most Israeli and world media. (One point that Friedman made that I didn't follow up on was that the Belzer opposition to national service was specifically for those who are young, 18 or so; he said that he did not know whether the Belzer Rebbe opposed older members - say, 27 year olds - doing some sort of service. This might point the way towards an agreement of sorts.)
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