Man helping Orthodox boot up and cash in


When Moshe Friedman was trying to get a high-tech start-up off the ground, a potential investor raised a concern. The funder was worried that because Mr Friedman is strictly-Orthodox, he would not be able to stop himself from taking the funds and giving them to charity.

Mr Friedman came up against such prejudice on several occasions while building up his video-editing company.

"Potential partners and investors don't want to work with Charedim and they looked at me as if I was an alien," he said. So he shelved his start-up and instead created a non-profit with an even more ambitious aim: to revolutionise the relationship between high-tech and the Charedi community.

Kama-Tech runs diversity workshops in high-tech companies and allays fears about the ramifications of employing Charedim. For example, he tells companies that they would not have to follow religious rules.

Kama-Tech works as an employment agency for qualified Charedim, finding them work in companies where it has broken down barriers.

"We open the doors of the big companies," said Mr Friedman, adding that Kama-Tech has helped Charedim find work in Google, Intel, IBM and other blue-chip firms.

Its training courses give technically qualified Charedim the communication and social skills they need to work in a corporate environment.

Some of the 3,000 people who have contacted Kama-Tech so far have started securing access to venture capitalists.

The 35-year-old scion of a rabbinic family is not only a trailblazer in high-tech, but also in the political realm. He is convinced that the Charedi community could be a major source of support for the Israeli left, both in relation to the peace process and social justice.

In his analysis, Charedi sympathy for left-wing views is not sufficiently exploited.

"The problem is because that the Charedim feel that the secular left in Israel really hate them and the religion, they feel they can't do anything with them and feel they are the enemy."

In a bid to counter this friction, Mr Friedman has created a forum composed of 10 secular activists, seven rabbis and three rebbetzens to produce a paper on how the two sides can better work together.

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