Often I hear rather seething comments from the more modern (Jewish) blogs about the chareidim (ultra-orthodox)not working, being leeches, etc. I would like to weigh in here with several thoughts. I have given these points a lot of thought, as I have all different types of viewpoints among my children.
The problem with all men "learning" as opposed to working (although many DO work today) is probably one in transition. Originally an answer to the near-erasure of the Torah world in the holocaust, society pressure has pressured everyone to "Learn". Slowly, however, we are seeing more people working at least part time.
However, as a nation, we DO need good learners, real Torah scholars, to deal with Halacic (Toarah law) problems, and continue to enrich our national heritage. These top-notch scholars, who study hours longer than any normal job, and who are part of our national culture, should be supported by the community at large, just as we support academics in every field.And they should be supported enough that they are above the poverty line.
I personally would like to see:
-more good job opportunities for the chareidim and more APPROPRIATE educational settings to attain needed skills. (When the city hall here offers the SAME vocational courses year after year, I wonder if they think that our city really needs (and can sustain) that many photographers and reflexoligists.....
-Since there ARE men who will want to learn even though they are not the best, I would like to see the girls seminaries offer more types of training. We are overloaded with teachers, and it is simply not a way to support a family. Let women who want to support a husband Torah student earn a decent living. Why should she be forced for lack of better options, to choose a field with minimum pay? And if this means starting to study for Israeli matriculation exams, let us have a kosher program to do this.
Until we do this, I feel that we will simply lose more and more youth from our community, as youngsters who do not want to live in poverty opt out of the current system. And THAT is a shame, that does not have to be.