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Ultra-Orthodox start to join 'startup nation'

Six high-tech startups by ultra-Orthodox Israelis, some of them women, were selected by the Kamatech accelerator project for mentorship and funding assistance.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man attends a computer course at a technical college in Jerusalem October 16, 2013. Adhering to a strict religious lifestyle, Haredim - Hebrew for "those who fear God" - mostly live in their own towns and neighbourhoods, keep to their own schools and shun secular culture. But there are signs of a growing, dispersed movement driving change inside the cloistered, and also poor, community. Picture taken October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION SOCIETY
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The Kamatech project announced on the evening of April 20 the winners of its competition at a glamorous celebration attended by former President Shimon Peres, startup guru Yossi Vardi and other high-tech veterans. An accelerator for ultra-Orthodox high-tech ventures, the success of Kamatech is a sign that something is changing in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox society.

One of the great rifts in the country is between secular society, which sees itself as carrying the weight of sustaining the state through work and military service, and ultra-Orthodox society, most of whose streams believe that they contribute to the state through Torah study. Many married ultra-Orthodox men study at rabbinical colleges (yeshivas) and receive a stipend, while the women bear the burden of earning a livelihood. There are some who do work for a living, but for the most part, ultra-Orthodox men are still not integrated in the job market.

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