The 2014 Religion and State Index demonstrates growing public support for freedom of religion and equality in Israel. In addition to surveying Israeli public opinion on core issues surrounding Israel's religion and state conflict, (marriage, conversion, equality in sharing the burden, Shabbat, gender, and others) this year's Index bears a clear and crucial message for world Jewry: More than two-thirds (67%) of Israeli Jews support joint efforts between Israel and world Jewry for freedom of marriage in Israel.
The 2014 Religion and State Index, conducted by the prestigious Rafi Smith polling agency for the religious freedom and freedom from religion group Hiddush shows that Israelis are fed up with haredi control over state-mandated religion and want much more separation between synagogue and state, and the freedom to marry and to go through other lifecycle markers without state-mandated rabbinic interference:
On the Eve of Rosh Hashanah, Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel released the 2014 Israel Religion and State Index, the annual public opinion study of religion and state issues in Israel. The Index, conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute, is the most comprehensive and systematic annual report in this field in Israel.
This year's Index demonstrates growing public support for freedom of religion and equality in Israel. In addition to surveying Israeli public opinion on core issues surrounding Israel's religion and state conflict, (marriage, conversion, equality in sharing the burden, Shabbat, gender, and others) this year's Index bears a clear and crucial message for world Jewry: More than two-thirds (67%) of Israeli Jews support joint efforts between Israel and world Jewry for freedom of marriage in Israel.
Some of the other leading figures include:
-66% of Israeli Jews and 74% of non-Haredi Israeli Jews support recognition of civil marriage and non-Orthodox marriages.
-61% of Israeli Jews believe that the Ultra-Orthodox Conscription Law passed this year in the Knesset will not succeed in drafting a significant amount of yeshiva students.
-71% of Israeli Jews are not pleased with the Chief Rabbinate. This includes 89% of secular Israelis, 80% of immigrants, and 61% of traditional Israeli Jews.
70% of Israeli Jews support public transportation on Shabbat, either widely or limited.
65% of Israeli Jews and 85% of Jewish Tel Aviv residents support allowing small markets and convenience stores to remain open on Shabbat in Tel Aviv.
Hiddush Chair, Stanley P. Gold, praised the publication of the 2014 Israel Religion and State Index and its findings, saying, "These are dramatic results. There is a growing demand for freedom of choice in Jewish life in Israel (84%), and the overwhelming majority opposes the government's policies in this area (78%). I am particularly pleased to see that Israelis are welcoming joint efforts between Diaspora Jewish leadership and their Israeli counterparts to bring about the long-awaited promise of religious freedom and particularly, freedom of marriage. Hiddush will continue to take an active and leading role in the coming year, together with a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations and leaders in North America and Israel to bring this about."
This study strongly reaffirms that supporting efforts for freedom of religion in Israel is one of the most pro-Israel activities that world Jewry can take part in.
Gold continued, "Freedom of religion and equality in Israel is not merely an internal Israeli issue, but touches at the heart of Israel -Diaspora relations and has a far-reaching effect on Israel's democracy. “
Rabbi Uri Regev, Hiddush President, said: "It is clear that even in times of war, there is high anxiety among Israelis over religion and state clashes and a record high support for religious freedom and equality. At a time when the politicians are discussing the possibility of bringing back Haredi parties into the government coalition, it is important that they listen carefully to the overwhelming majority of Israelis who reject this notion, including Likud voters. The public wants a civil government, which is a pre-condition for strengthening Israel’s civil society."
Rabbi Regev emphasized, "The 2014 Israel Religion and State Index clearly reveals the public's desire for freedom of marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, enforcement of core curricular studies in Haredi schools, draft of Yeshiva students, and strong opposition to the anachronistic and coercive Chief Rabbinate - but the government has yet to implement any of this!"
“We hope”, stated Gold and Regev, “that our consistent and comprehensive annual study of Israeli public opinion regarding religion and state will help mobilize public action both in Israel and among Jewish communities outside Israel towards fully realizing the goal of greater 'freedom of religion and conscience' as promised in Israel's Declaration of Independence. It is essential for both Israel's democratic and Jewish character. This study strongly reaffirms that supporting efforts for freedom of religion in Israel is one of the most pro-Israel activities that world Jewry can take part in. The time is now for all of us to help Israel fully embrace these values!”
*The Israel Religion and State Index is conducted for Hiddush by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute. The study is based on telephone interviews, conducted between August 11-17th, 2014 with 800 adult Jewish respondents to represent the adult Israeli Jewish population. The 2014 Religion and State Index was published with support from Stanley and Marion Bergman and family.