Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Workforce: A Qualitative Study of Education
The purpose of the qualitative descriptive case study was to explore how cultural and religious factors act as barriers to education among Haredi males in the United States. Unlike much of the U.S. population, Haredi males do not receive much secular education but receive religion focused education, which does not adequately prepare them for the job market. Inadequate education can have a devastating effect on employability. Within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the lack of core curriculum studies hindered the men’s ability to gain employment and support their families. The goal for the study was to explore how cultural and religious factors act as barriers to education and employment and to address the gap of knowledge surrounding the impacts of cultural and religious factors in academics. Using social cognitive theory, in-depth interviews were conducted in accordance with the qualitative descriptive inquiry research design with graduates of ultra-Orthodox education institutions, considering the various religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of the subjects. A total of 10 participants were selected from a group of 30 males who were educated exclusively at yeshiva for the study, with semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire being the two main sources of qualitative data collection from which the results and findings were drawn. The data were coded and analyzed using NVivo 12 under Braun and Clarke’s six-step thematic analysis protocol. The findings indicated culture and religion affect the quality of education received, and skill sets lacked by the sample included language proficiency, lack of core education, cultural and religious restrictions, discrimination, and having large families. This study contributed to the body of knowledge in education by providing the context for the challenges faced by ultra Orthodox Jews and the consequences associated with not attaining secular skill sets in favor of preserving cultural and religious heritage.