"It is alarming to read the results of a new Smith Research Institute poll commissioned by the Reform Movement affiliated Hiddush organization. If the poll is accurate, it shows a major shift away from a Halachic definition of being a Jew among the majority of Israelis. The poll also clearly shows the hashkafa [outlook] of the majority of Yesh Atid voters and the agenda party leader Yair Lapid will push if he enters the coalition and serves as a senior cabinet minister."
Poll: Most Israelis Willing to Define ‘Jewishness’ Contrary to Halacha
It is alarming to read the results of a new Smith Research Institute poll commissioned by the Reform Movement affiliated Hiddush organization. If the poll is accurate, it shows a major shift away from a Halachic definition of being a Jew among the majority of Israelis. The poll also clearly shows the hashkafa [outlook] of the majority of Yesh Atid voters and the agenda party leader Yair Lapid will push if he enters the coalition and serves as a senior cabinet minister.
The Smith Research Institute and Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel conducted a poll which found that 57% of the Jewish population in Israel (80% of secular Jews) do not object to a family member marrying a partner who comes from an immigrant family and whose father is Jewish, but mother is not. The polling data was released in anticipation of the Knesset lobby for Civil Equality and Pluralism, headed by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) which is took place in the Knesset on Monday, March 4, 2013. The gathering will focus on freedom of marriage in Israel.
The inquiry focused on attitudes of Israeli Jews regarding marriage to a spouse who is not Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law. Among the new immigrants themselves, 77% expressed no objection to this situation while 23% did object. The Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox populations, however, consistently oppose a potential marriage between a family member and a patrilineal Jew; 93% among the orthodox, 94% among ultra-Orthodox.
The annual “Israel Religion and State Index” conducted by the Smith institute for Hiddush, consistently demonstrates that approximately 60% of Jewish Israelis support government recognition of all options of marriage (including civil marriage and marriages officiated by Reform and Conservative Rabbis). In the 2012 Index, 59% of the Jewish population expressed support for freedom of marriage. Of the new immigrants that were polled, 90% support recognition of all forms of marriage and among secular Jews, 86% are in support. Among those who were planning to vote for Yesh Atid, support was at 85%.
Rabbi Uri Regev, President of Hiddush, said that, “these findings unequivocally demonstrate that the general public is eager to see civil marriage introduced in Israel as well as recognition of marriage in the non-orthodox denominations. This reflects both the wide public support of freedom of religion and also a desire to ensure the absorption of new immigrant families, which includes the ability to legally marry in Israel. The overwhelming majority of the public clearly rejects the current reality in which hundreds of thousands of new immigrants are denied the basic human right of creating a legally-protected family.”
Rabbi Regev emphasized that, “the elections created a historic opportunity to establish civil marriage in Israel as was repeatedly promised by Yesh Atid chair, Yair Lapid. We should not allow this opportunity slip away.” Regev called on the “Jewish Home” party to recognize that “the Fundamentalist Orthodox monopoly over marriage and divorce is one of the most divisive issues among Jews in Israel and around the world. Not only will introducing freedom of marriage not split the public, it will draw Israelis closer to Judaism and help alleviate many of the current societal frictions.”
*The poll was conducted in mid- January 2013 among a sample of 500 respondents representing the adult Jewish population in Israel. The question posed to the respondents was “Would you object on principle to a male or female family member marrying a new immigrant spouse whose father is Jewish and mother is not?”
In other words, the haredi policy of making conversion to Judaism harder and much more difficult to complete than it used to has failed. Israelis have overwhelmingly rejected it, just as they have overwhelmingly rejected haredim.