Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hot Off the Press – A Year Ago
By: Schvach Yid

So I’m slow. I admit it, but thanks to Chavi Jo of the Just Call Me Chaviva blog site (not to mention of the Jews By Choice blog site), I’ve learned about the World Jewish Digest website where I found this little ditty by Jessica Steinberg:

Located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, this bedroom community has energized Israel’s outsourcing movement with its population of young, ultra-Orthodox families. Since most of the men there learn in a kollel—a yeshiva for adult men—it’s the women who both work and care for their growing families. Given the employment needs in Modi’in Illit, then, and the industry’s demand for inexpensive, skilled labor, community members conceived the idea for an outsourced computer-programming company that specifically employed Haredi women.

“This is a town that has been severely affected by the government budget cuts to yeshiva students,” explains Libby Affen, a mother of six with 30 grandchildren and a long career as an information-technology specialist. “Most of the men here are learning, and their wives are young with kids.” Thus, the extra income is a necessity.

In 2004, community members approached Mordechai Gutman, C.E.O. of Matrix IT, an information-technology company in Herzliya that has 2,500 employees and is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. He jumped at the idea, and within two years, he opened two centers in Israel, one in Modi’in Illit and the other in Beit Shemesh, another town with a large Haredi population. The centers, called Talpiot, now employ 300 ultra- Orthodox women.

“The average age is 24,” says Affen, Talpiot’s chief operating officer. “They work from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.], and they work here because they can zip home.”

What a fabulous idea. And I never married – schmuck! But of course, it’s the ingenuity of this program that intrigues me. It’s very smart, and that, perhaps, is what we Jews like the most about ourselves, isn’t it?


chaviva said...

It would appear they run on the philosophy of Project Runway ... that is ... "Make it Work." :)

Schvach said...

"Make it work" is right. Evidently, they're doing a good job of it. The innovation/application is smart stuff, and as I've written, we Jews love smart.

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