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Kosher co-working spaces aim to integrate ultra-orthodox into high-tech sector

Kosher co-working spaces aim to integrate ultra-orthodox into high-tech sector

At first glance, it looks like any other shared workspace: the hip interior design, the abstract art, the ferns gracing the round cafe-style tables, the board with the latest news.

But this particular one has a whole library of Talmud books and a strictly kosher kitchen.

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These are the workspace areas of companies like KamaTech in Bnei Brak and Bizmax in Jerusalem, which provide ultra-Orthodox Israelis in the high-tech industry with a physical space, mentorship, and collaboration to develop and support startups run by members of their community.

The model works like other Israeli workspaces (think WeWork) and accelerators but focuses on integrating ultra-orthodox entrepreneurs into the sector while accommodating ultra-Orthodox norms and needs, such as kashrut and prayer services, and in some cases, like Bizmax’s, the contentious issue of gender separation.

The concept of shared workspaces has taken off worldwide over the past decade, though more for economic reasons than integrating different communities into the workforce.

Workspace companies act as “professional tenants,” offering office spaces in various complexes to meet the specific needs of clients, Marcus Moufarrige, COO of shared workspace company Servcorp, told the New York Times last year.

Shared workspaces may offer individual desks, offices, or conference rooms for rent on a month-to-month basis to provide clients with flexibility and affordability, while also having common spaces and kitchen areas where employees from the various tenant companies can interact.