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The Hadas program is a pioneering project which was designed to counter some of the challenges posed by contemporary Israeli society.
Israeli history is filled with observant women who wanted to contribute to their country by serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Unfortunately, these young, idealistic women were discouraged – or even forbidden – from doing so by their spiritual mentors, leaving them torn and conflicted. Those who did nonetheless join the army often found themselves isolated and alone; those who chose not to become soldiers were forced to struggle with their own guilt and disappointment, as well as the resentment of their secular Israeli peers.
In order to answer the needs of the religious Israeli woman – as well as to counteract the growing animosity and polarization within Israeli society – OTS spearheaded the Hadas initiative, where participants are inducted into the IDF as a supportive group and strengthened by intense Torah study before, during and after full-term, active IDF service.
Hadas women are inducted as a group and strengthened by intense Torah study before, during and after active IDF service in the Education Corps, the Intelligence Corps, the Israeli Air Force or, as of Autumn 2016, providing combat support to the elite Maglan reconnaissance unit. A full 20% of Hadas participants are asked to enter officers training course and continue to serve the IDF in important positions of command.
The Hadas program successfully unites two, seemingly opposing worlds – dedication to Torah alongside dedication to Israel – and provides participants with the opportunity to fulfill their patriotic duty without compromising their religious commitment. At the same time, the program provides a golden opportunity to shatter damaging stereotypes, create dialogue between religious and secular youth, and take steps toward the unity that is so crucial for Israeli survival.
In the Fall of 2015, a new track was launched: Hadas Chu”l provides Orthodox high school graduates from overseas with the opportunity to study Torah intensively alongside Hadas students in the Education, Intelligence and IAF tracks before joining the IDF (to serve either as volunteers or as new immigrants).