Several years ago, someone penned an article to rebut the claim that charedi society in Israel is opposed to higher education and professional careers. The article presented a fascinating case in point: one of the veterinarians at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is charedi! And a woman, no less!
As a neighbor, friend, and colleague of the veterinarian mentioned, I felt that the article was highly misleading. She is a ba'alas teshuvah who received the bulk of her education (and started vet school) before she was charedi. Israeli charedi society certainly doesn't encourage or enable its people to become veterinarians!
I was reminded of this during the current election campaign in Bet Shemesh. Four very fine people, whom I know personally, have been selected by the charedi mayor to be the Anglo face of his campaign. He has offered them various incentives in exchange for their support, and their faces are plastered on posters throughout Bet Shemesh. Now, why is Mayor Abutbol and his supporters so enthusiastic to have these people on his team? The answer is that they are doctors.
Everyone respects doctors. You have to study really, really hard, for many, many years, in order to become a doctor. They are intelligent, men of science, who value knowledge. They are sworn by the Hippocratic Oath to help people - and they do.
And so when the posters declare, "What Do These Doctors Have In Common?" the point is not merely that these four men all support Abutbol - it's that these four men are all doctors, and they all support Abutbol. Nobody would put up a poster saying, "What Do These Four Supermarket Shelf-Stackers Have In Common?" But by presenting doctors, you are capitalizing on all the positive qualities that being a doctor represents.
And here's where the posters are very misleading. Because there's something else that these particular four doctors all have in common: Not one of them placed his children on a path where they could also become doctors.
All these doctors have moved to a very different direction in life from when they became doctors. They all send their kids to charedi schools in which there is minimal secular education. Such schools do not direct their students towards college; in fact, they prevent them from such a path.
And so I don't think that it's particularly significant that these four Abutbol-supporters are all doctors. It is much more significant that all the local doctors who still properly value being doctors, in that they send their children to schools that provide a full secular education and encourage their students towards professional careers such as medicine - are (and I'm guessing here, but I think it's a safe guess) voting for Eli Cohen rather than Moshe Abutbol.