Shahar Ilan

Shahar Ilan serves as vice president of research and information for Hiddush Mr. Ilan is a senior journalist and commentator on Haredi issues.

Shahar Photo

Shahar Ilan serves as vice president of research and information for Hiddush Mr. Ilan is a senior journalist and commentator on religion and state and Haredi issues.

Mr. Ilan was born and has lived his entire life in Jerusalem. He began his journalistic career with Kol HaIr ‘Voice of the City’ at the age of 22. From 1984 to 1988 he was the paper’s writer on religious issues and municipal government. His many notable exposés include the statement by Shas MK Shimon Ben Shlomo that I.D.F soldiers, “were killed in Lebanon because of licentiousness in the army” and that of Shas Interior Minister MK Yitzhak Peretz that train crash victims died because of desecration of the Shabbat.

Between 1989 and 1991 Mr. Ilan was the news editor for Kol HaIr and editor-in-chief from 1993 to 1994. From 1991-1993, and again from 1994-2001, Mr. Ilan was the correspondent for religious affairs for Ha’aretz, the most respectable daily newspaper in Israel, and at the end of this time was the paper’s research writer.

In 1998 he published the series “Haredim ‘98”. Among the issues revealed in this series: An Avrech (Haredi married man who studies Torah and does not work) who has 10 children and whose wife does not work can receive government assistance up to 11,000 shekels per month; that the fertility rate of Haredi women rose from 6 children to 7.5 children; and that the state spends 100 million shekels per year on institutions that “return” Jews to Haredi forms of Judaism. This series formed the basis for the book “The Haredim Inc.: public expenditures, draft dodging and trampling the law” published by Keter in 2000.

From 2001 to 2004 Mr. Ilan served as editor of the Ha’aretz’s daily magazine, a period which was marked by many investigations and a clear social and civil agenda. Investigative series were published covering the health “basket” committee, (written by Haim Shadmi), about the children of foreign workers (by Nurit Wurgaft) the imprisonment and torture of foreign workers form Bulgaria (by Ruth Sinai), failures of transportation planning (by Anat Zigelman) and others.

From 2004 to 2009 Shahar Ilan was a writer for the Ha’aretz supplement, the paper’s parliamentary correspondent and a member of the editorial board, which sets policy for the paper’s editorials. He also wrote a number of regular columns for the paper. At the beginning of 2008 he started a popular blog.

In 2009, Mr. Ilan partnered with President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism Rabbi Uri Regev to establish Hiddush – Religious Freedom in Israel, becoming the Hiddush Vice President of Research and Information. Since its founding, Hiddush has earned itself a reputation as a primary source of information and critical data on matters of freedom of religion and equality of civic burden in Israel, and has greatly influenced the public discourse about the state. The projects Mr. Ilan oversees include: the Religion and State Index, published annually on the Eve of Rosh HaShana in partnership with the popular site Ynet, the Freedom of Marriage World Map, which provides a thorough exploration of freedom of marriage in nearly 160 countries, as well as the countries’ level of recognition of same-sex marriage, regular reporting on Knesset activities related to religious freedom, policy position papers on various subjects, especially on the subjects of drafting yeshiva students, investigations of government budget transfers to religious institutions, and more.

Mr. Ilan lives in Jerusalem, and is divorced with three children. 

Books and Publications:

“The Haredim Inc.: public expenditures, draft dodging and trampling the law”
Keter, 2000, Jerusalem
From the book’s introduction: “In recent decades the Haredi representatives in the government have built a well-oiled machinery for diverting funds and perks from the national budget for their own constituency, funds which are far greater than their numbers in the population and many times greater than the tax burden they pay… The elaborate budgetary system that the Haredim have put in place has three main purposes: allowing Haredi men to continue studying fulltime in yeshivas at any age they so wish, without having to work, pay taxes or serve in the army… thereby effectively binding young Haredim with financial and cultural restraints of their community so that they are unable to leave it… and recruiting as may “returnees” as possible to Haredi Judaism…

“Postponement of enlistment of Yeshiva students; a policy recommendation”
The Floersheimer Institute for Studies in Policy, 1999, Jerusalem
This paper was appended to the report of the Tal Commission which checked the regularization of postponement of enlistment for Yeshiva students. 


Shahar Ilan received the 1997 Bnai Brith World Center Award for Journalism for excellence in Diaspora reporting in memory of Wolf and Hilda Mattersdorf. The prize is given to encourage reporting on issues concerning the Diaspora in the Israeli media. It was awarded to Mr. Ilan for a series of articles on American Jewry and the conversion law crisis.

Mr. Ilan was awarded the “Knight of Quality in Government” award of The Movement for Quality Government in Israel in 2001. The award was given “for his in-depth and innovative journalistic work, his courage in uncovering the truth, for his investigations which exposed the waste of public monies, improper management, draft-evasion and disregard for the law which demonstrate to the public and the government the need for repairing the distortions and flaws, and acquiring proper and egalitarian norms of governance.”

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