A new pre-army seminary for religious women will offer computer degrees and a step into the IDF’s elite cyber units.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Jewish studies in the morning and technological training in the afternoon.
A new pre-army seminary is preparing to accept the first students for a program combining Torah study and computing that will pave the way for religious Jewish women to do their national service in elite cyber technology units, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
Orthodox Jewish women generally don’t serve in the IDF due to their religious observance. However, religious women are in many cases strongly Zionistic. They often enroll in “national service,” helping in hospitals, disadvantaged communities and immigration centers. The new program will offer a path for them to make a more serious contribution.
Mabat, a midrasha, or women’s college, will offer study programs in Torah, halacha (Jewish law) and Jewish thought, with a parallel track leading to a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering with a specialization in data science and cyber studies
Graduates will get a shot at joining either the classified technology units in the Shin Bet national security agency or the IDF’s cyber defense and technology units.
The women’s college is headed by several former senior IDF and General Security Service (Shin Bet) officers, including former IDF intelligence chief Brig. Gen. (res) Dudu Tzur and Arik Barbing, a former senior operative in the GSS who headed the agency’s cyber network.
“We encourage young women to connect the sacred with the secular. The combination of the two is our doctrine of redemption, it is the people of Israel with its land and soil – growing and flourishing,” said Maya Ohana Moreno, one of the program’s lecturers whose husband Emanuel Moreno fell in the 2006 Lebanon war and whose top secret work still requires his picture to remain classified.
The founders say that having top IDF and intelligence officers running the program will do wonders in helping the women gain admission to the prestigious units.
The students who are accepted to the seminary “will be able to choose between national or military service and will receive preparation, full support and accompaniment in the entrance exams for the technological units in the various security bodies,” the program prospectus said.
“The technological training at the midrasha will give them an advantage over other candidates and lead them to advanced and quality positions within the units.”
Lt. Col. (res) Rami Lieber, director of the Netivei Torah and Technology Association and one of the founders of the seminary, said seven years ago they established the “Pisgah” (summit) program to train young men and women in cyber, but “we realized that the canvas needs to be expanded” to include religious women.
“We let the spiritual and technological training build – and each one decides whether to go into national or military service,” Lieber told Israel Hayom.
There are other existing pre-army prep schools for religious women that prepare them to serve in different IDF branches with high standards. The Lapidot Mechina, for example, has a goal of having a third of its graduates complete officer training in the IDF. However, Mabat is expected to conduct strict screenings of candidates because of its stated goal to integrate the young women into elite technological units.
Although young women who commit to national service instead of the IDF only have one year obligatory service, the women’s college says that in practice there is no chance that they will not perform significant and long service, even more than two years in some cases.
“Data show that the girls who reach such positions remain at almost one hundred percent for a second year. In the army, they even continue for much longer service,” the school said.