Ultra-Orthodox Women Meet the Digital Age
(Miami, July 10, 2018)—Ultra-Orthodox women in Jerusalem tend to face unique workplace challenges and hurdles, including a lack of training in and under-utilization of digital technology and social media for business purposes. MATI – The Jerusalem Business Development Center, has created a new initiative to address this issue in an interesting way. Turning Point—Ultra-Orthodox Women Entering the Digital Age, a program supported by Targum Shlishi, educates women in digital technology and pays it forward by also training these women to support ultra-Orthodox women business owners with online marketing.
“It’s necessary in today’s business world to participate in digital and social media and e-commerce. Many ultra-Orthodox women are behind the curve in this essential business skill, and MATI’s program is much-needed. Supporting this training is a major step in the empowerment of these women,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi.
“I believe that once a sufficient number of these women are empowered, they will help liberate the ultra-Orthodox community from their shackles and blinders and lead them into the twenty-first century, helping them to become contributing participants of Israeli society.”
About Turning Point
Turning Point is designed to train twenty ultra-Orthodox women to become experts in digital media. In turn, these women will then provide services around online marketing and social media to businesses run by other ultra-Orthodox women.
“There is a clear need for ultra-Orthodox women who own businesses to update and modernize their online marketing activity,” says Michal Shaul Vulej, deputy CEO and business development director of MATI. “Turning Point has the potential to increase income and self-sufficiency for ultra-Orthodox women. While we knew this was a pressing need, we did not think that the population was ready for it. With Aryeh Rubin’s support and encouragement, we decided to offer it, and the results have been promising. These women understand that to complete in the market they must use these tools.”
Turning Point includes several components, beginning with a professional, hands-on digital and social media marketing course that includes:
- a business entrepreneurship course
- a mentored, supervised field internship (3-5 months)
- the digital graphic design of marketing materials for women’s businesses
Meeting a Need
Turning Point aims to positively impact employment opportunities and earning potential for ultra-Orthodox women. Poverty and unemployment is high in Jerusalem, and these issues are exacerbated for women. Only forty percent of women in Jerusalem work (fifty-seven percent of all Israeli women work). Additionally, women are paid significantly less than men; in Jerusalem, men make twenty-nine percent more than women, in part due to educational barriers.
Entrepreneurship Can Stimulate Economic Growth
MATI advocates for entrepreneurship, and particularly small business activity, as one way to improve the socioeconomic situation for women. “In Jerusalem, small business activity is far from realizing its potential,” says Vuleg.
Both new and established business owners can benefit from cutting-edge digital and social media marketing skills, from websites to online ads to e-commerce to social media marketing. Being well-versed in these skills through Turning Point will provide important employment opportunities for the program’s participants.
Despite the need for consultants and employees trained in digital technology, until now there have been very few opportunities for ultra-Orthodox women to learn these skills or even to apply them. Small and/or entrepreneurial businesses can potentially be adapted to the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, especially through the use of digital technology, which is a must in today’s economy.
Progress to Date
Turning Point initiated as a pilot program, with plans to expand to reach a larger audience in the near future. The initial program was designed for twenty ultra-Orthodox women, and initial feedback was positive and encouraging. MATI projects that training these women will lead to the establishment of more than twenty new businesses, the upgrading of dozens of established businesses, and the creation of new jobs.
About MATI Jerusalem Business Development Center
MATI Jerusalem Business Development Center was established in 1991 to help entrepreneurs and business owners set up or expand enterprises in Jerusalem. Launched at the initiative of Teddy Kollek, who was then mayor of Jerusalem, MATI Jerusalem is Israel’s largest and most prominent business center, and has served as a model emulated by twenty-five additional small business support centers throughout Israel. For more information, visit its website.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website. Follow Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, on Twitter.