Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

Study: Over 60% of Israelis want Separation of Religion and State

On Rosh Hashana eve, Hiddush association's Religion and State Index also shows that half of public believe religious-secular tension is most serious conflict in Israeli society

By: Kobi Nachshoni

Published: September 4th, 2013 in News » Israel

Study: Over 60% of Israelis want Separation of Religion and State

The past Jewish year included an ongoing attempt to draft yeshiva students, emotionally charged Chief Rabbinate elections, the exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the government, an attempt to impose the core curriculum on haredi schools, a dramatic High Court decision against the operation of businesses on Shabbat and an unprecedented ruling by the Jerusalem District Court in favor of the liberal Women of the Wall organization.

As one of the most eventful years in Israel in terms of state-religion relations comes to an end, a majority of the public asserts that it's time to separate between the two.

The Hiddush association's Religion and State Index, in cooperation with Ynet – a comprehensive annual research published for the third time – shows that the number of Israeli in favor of separating religion from the State reached a new high in Jewish year 5773, standing at 61% (including 84% of seculars) – a 9% rise from last year.

Thirty-nine percent are against separating religion from the State (83% of ultra-Orthodox Jews, 73% of religious Jews and 54% of traditional Jews).

Most difficult conflict in Jewish society

According to the survey, 51% of the public believe the tension between haredim and seculars is the most difficult conflict in the Israeli society. Right-Left relations came in second, at a huge gap – 23%.

Fourteen percent chose the relations between the rich and poor, 4% said Mizrahi-Ashkenazi relations and 1% chose the tensions between new immigrants and veteran citizens as the most difficult conflict in society. The rest did not respond.

Seventy-five percent of haredim, 80% of seculars, 79% of religious Jews and 58% of traditional Jews mentioned the secular-haredi conflict as one of the two most difficult tensions.

Eighty-three percent of those with an opinion believe the State of Israel must allow its citizens freedom of religion and conscience (95% of seculars and 73% of traditional Jews, and even 64% of religious Jews and 77% of haredim), and 17% are opposed.

Accordingly, 62% support the State's recognition in all types of marriages – religious and civil (including 92% of seculars and 53% of traditional Jews), and 38% are against (96% of haredim and 73% of religious Jews).

However, in any event, 61% would rather see themselves or their children get married in a religious-Orthodox ceremony (100% of haredim, 95% of religious Jews, 78% of traditional Jews and 33% of seculars). Twenty-one percent prefer a civil marriage (39% of seculars), 13% a Reform or Conservative ceremony (20% of seculars), and 5% are in favor of living together without getting married.

Types of conversion Israel should recognize

Respondents were asked which types of conversion the State of Israel should recognize. Thirty-nine percent were in favor of preserving the Orthodox monopoly (100% of haredim, 80% of religious Jews and 46% of traditional Jews), 36% would open the door to any conversion – including non-religious (56% of seculars), and 25% are in favor of every religious ceremony in Israel and abroad.

As for public transportation on Shabbat, 41% said they support its operation on the day of rest to a limited extent (including 53% of seculars and 40% of traditional Jews), 23% want it to operate as it does on weekdays, 21% settle for the current situation (39% of religious Jews and 36% of traditional Jews), and 15% would cancel that too.

Addressing the opening businesses on Shabbat, 67% were supportive of the operation of shopping centers outside cities on the day of rest (94% of seculars and 57% of traditional Jews) and 33% were opposed (100% of haredim and 69% of religious Jews).

As for kiosks, convenience stores and minimarkets, 59% were in favor of keeping them open on Shabbat (87% of seculars) and 41% were opposed (100% of haredim, 81% of religious Jews and 57% of traditional Jews).

Is there a need for 2 chief rabbis?

Forty percent (56% of traditional Jews) prefer one chief rabbi, either Sephardic or Ashkenazi, 30% (77% of haredim and 43% of religious Jews) prefer two rabbis, and 30% (44% of seculars) believe there is no justification for a rabbinate on behalf of the State.

The Justice Ministry's initiative to declare the exclusion of women as a criminal offense gained the support of 60% (75% of seculars) and the objection of 40% (75% of haredim, 56% of religious Jews and 54% of traditional Jews.

As for Health Minister Yael German's suggestion that organs will be taken for transplantation from any deceased person who failed to sign a refusal, was supported by 54% (71% of seculars) and opposed by 46% (87% of haredim, 62% of religious Jews and 58% of traditional Jews).

Moving on to the plan to advance an equal share of the burden, 35% called for drafting yeshiva students for full regular army service (43% of seculars, 37% of traditional Jews and about 25% of religious Jews), 31% are in favor of forcing yeshiva students to engage in national service (about 25% of religious Jews), 18% agree with exempting yeshiva students whose "Torah is their profession," and 16% are in favor of setting a quota for prodigies who will be exempt from military service - while the rest join the army (about 25% of religious Jews).

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