Who Are the Haredim and Why Do They Need Your Prayers?

by Jews for Jesus | September 01 2022

Who Are the Haredim?

When Christians consider unreached people groups, many think of remote places in Africa or Asia. Yet the Haredim (ultraOrthodox) who live in cities like Jerusalem, New York City, and Toronto, are one of the most unreached people groups in the world.

Maybe you’ve seen a Haredi hero in a movie (like the classic Frisco Kid, or the movie adaptation of Chaim Potok’s book The Chosen). If you live near a community of Haredim, you might see families walking to synagogue on a Saturday morning. But do you know who they are and what they believe? The following verse provides a clue: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2, author’s emphasis).

The Hebrew word for “tremble” in this verse is hared, and from it is derived the term Haredim, which is used to describe the ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) Jewish community. Their name implies a reverential fear of God.

The Haredim remain insulated from the culture around them.

Although they often live in major cities, the Haredim remain insulated from the culture around them and are characterized by their strict observance of Jewish law. In their attempt to stay uncorrupted by the world, Haredi communities censor news media, smart phones, televisions, computers, and the Internet. Though the Haredim may seem so foreign to mainstream culture, it is important to not slip into generalizations or biases about them.

Our experience with the community has shown us that they are a diverse group of people. We have seen firsthand their gentleness and humility, and the zeal that so many Haredim have for God and obedience to the Law, and their commitment to family and community. And yet, they are not immune from the brokenness and sin that affects those who are not religious. Like anyone else, without the good news of the gospel, they have no hope in life or death.

Why Don’t They Believe in Jesus?

The answer is complicated. Sadly, some Haredim only know the name of Yeshua as a curse word. Others have a vague knowledge of Him; they believe He existed but consider Him to have been a wayward Jew. Moreover, Haredim read the Bible through very different lenses that may hinder them from recognizing Yeshua as Messiah.

The Lens of Tradition: In the Middle Ages, fanciful and derogatory stories about Yeshua called Toledot Yeshu were circulated, portraying Yeshua as an imposter who led Israel astray to idolatry.

The Lens of Halakah (Jewish law): In the Haredi community, keeping the mitzvot (good deeds based on the law) is seen as the remedy for sin and the way to connect with God.

The Lens of the Holocaust: The worldview of the Haredi community is grounded in the experience of the Holocaust. Many equate the Holocaust with Christian Europe, and their views have been shaped by “Christian antisemitism.”

Many Are Questioning Traditional Beliefs

Even though the lenses described above have shaped religious Jewish thinking about Jesus, there are still many who silently wonder about Him. When someone from a Haredi community questions any traditional beliefs, including who Jesus is, these questions are seen as a problem that needs to be fixed. If the “doubter” persists in serious questioning or behaviors that stray from the norm, they may be diagnosed with a mental illness—or perhaps even expelled from the community. Many Haredim choose to keep their questions to themselves, remaining in the community but living double lives.

Levi was given a New Testament in Yiddish.

Levi is a young man who was raised in a very strict and insular Hasidic community. He stopped being observant several years ago, yet still holds to belief in God and continues to follow many of the traditions he was raised with. Levi was given a New Testament in Yiddish, and he began to read it on the spot. He read from Matthew 11:28–30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Levi said, “Wow, I didn’t know such a thing existed!” He was quite moved by what he read and was surprised to find Yeshua’s words in Yiddish. Pray for the many people like Levi who are willing to find out about Jesus, whether secretly in the community or more openly when they leave.

God is moving in this community, and the time is ripe to increase our efforts to reach the Haredim with the good news.

Saul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) illustrates the nature of divine guidance that is essential to reach the Haredim. It took supernatural intervention to change an ardent opponent of The Way into an effective ambassador of the gospel of Messiah. We must pray that God’s supernatural power will once again be released to bring light to the Haredim.


Your faith-filled prayers are key to unlocking the door to this closed community. Please continue to pray with us—the journey may be long, but it will be filled with grace.

  • Praise God for the opportunity to pray and intercede for His people. Ask God to give you a heart of love and compassion as you pray for the Haredim.
  • Pray that the Haredim, even the rabbis and spiritual leaders in the community, would see that Yeshua is their Messiah and that salvation comes not through what they do but through what Yeshua has done for them.
  • Pray that Christians who are ministering to Haredi believers, especially hidden ones, will have sensitivity and wisdom and will help them find fellowship with other believers.

Every fall, Jewish people of all backgrounds, including Haredim, celebrate biblical holidays that provide a window into God’s redemptive plan. These holidays also provide a powerful time for you to pray for the Haredim communities. During the 10 “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, pray for God’s Spirit to fill Haredi communities with a new hunger for His redemption that will draw many to Yeshua. During Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles, October 10–11), pray that as the Haredim remember God’s presence and protection over our ancestors in the wilderness, God would draw them close to Himself in a new way.

This article has been adapted from a 49-page prayer guide filled with stories, insights, and prayer points to help you reach Haredi communities through your prayers. You can download the entire prayer guide here.

Names are changed to protect privacy.