A Rafi Smith poll conducted for the religious equality lobbying group Hiddush
evinced strong public support for reforms and cuts being implemented by the
government to funding for the haredi sector.
Seventy-four percent of the
public see tensions between the haredi and secular sectors as the most or
second-most serious societal problems; 47% view the right-left political divide
as most serious, 32% see divisions between rich and poor as most concerning and
15% believe tensions between Ashkenazim and Sephardim are the most
Sixty percent said they were in favor of separation of
religion and state, an increase from 56% in 2012.
Hiddush said the figure
might be inflated due to an assumption by the Israeli public that separation
connotes merely a reduction in the influence of haredi political parties and not
a total separation of religion and state, as in France and the US.
explanation is reinforced by the relatively low level of support for the
abolition of the state-run Chief Rabbinate, which the Hiddush poll recorded at
Conducted July 10-24 on a sample of 800 Jewish Israelis, it is the
fifth annual survey of opinions on religion and state done by Hiddush and
published just before Rosh Hashana.
The current government, driven to a
large extent by the agenda of Yesh Atid, has undertaken a series of reforms to
the funding of the haredi sector, including cuts to yeshiva stipends,
conditioning state benefits on employment, conditioning state funding for haredi
education on the teaching of core curriculum topics and drafting haredim into
Among those polled, 75% said they were in favor of a recent and
drastic cut in yeshiva budgets from NIS 1.2 billion before 2013 to NIS 422
million for 2014.
Eighty percent expressed support for a recent
government decision conditioning housing benefits on being employed or searching
for employment; 79% said they were in favor of obliging haredi schools to teach
core curriculum subjects, with 63% saying government support should be cut for
schools which do not cooperate.
These reforms are planned by the current
government but have yet to be implemented due to legal concerns over the
revocation of budgets to educational institutions without an alternative
framework in place.
Regarding the explosive issue of haredi enlistment,
82% said they were in favor of obligating haredi yeshiva students to perform
military or civilian service.
But just 50% of the nonharedi public said
they supported the bill to draft haredim, proposed by Science and Technology
Minister Ya’akov Peri, which is currently under discussion in a special Knesset
The reasons behind the relative skepticism for the bill are
unclear. They may include opinions that enforcement of the law would be lax and,
therefore, would not lead to any significant increase in haredi enlistment, or,
conversely, that the result would be alienation of the haredi community and
deeper societal division.
Despite widespread support for reforms, 76%
said they were dissatisfied with the current government’s record on matters of
religion and state. This includes 93% of the haredi public, compared with 79% of
haredim who were unhappy with government measures on such issues in
Bayit Yehudi voters were slightly happier with the government’s
record on such matters, with 33% expressing satisfaction and 67% less satisfied
with recent developments.
Among Yesh Atid voters, 72% said they were
dissatisfied with the government’s religion and state policies, although only
52% said they were unhappy with Yesh Atid’s performance in this field; 48%
expressed satisfaction with their party’s record.
While the public at
large expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s efforts on religion and
state, 64% – 71% among nonharedim – said they supported the exclusion of haredi
parties from the coalition.
The 2013 poll saw a small rise in support for
marriage outside of the Orthodox rabbinate, up from 60% in 2012 to 62%. This
includes support for Reform, Conservative and civil marriage.
to the survey, 67% of the secular public would chose non-Orthodox marriage for
themselves or for their children, including 39% who would opt for civil
marriage, 20% for Reform or Conservative marriage and 8% for some form
cohabitation without marriage.
Broken down according to political
affiliation, 64% of Yesh Atid voters would go for non-Orthodox marriage, as
would 63% of Labor voters and 80% of Meretz, Hatnua and Kadima
Among Likud-Beytenu supporters, 64% would wed under Orthodox
auspices, while 90% of Bayit Yehudi voters would do the same.
recognition for gay marriage, 56% said they were in favor, and 44%
As for conversion, 61% said they supported recognition of all
forms of conversion currently practiced; 36% favored a type of secular
conversion that would include study of Judaism and ceremony of acceptance into
the Jewish people, while 25% said they were in favor of all forms of religious
conversion, including Reform and Conservative, performed in Israel or
According to 39%, Orthodox conversion alone should be
Two thirds of the public, or 67%, said that equal status
should be granted to all Jewish denominations, while 33% said that exclusive
jurisdiction over matters of Jewish religion should remain solely with the
Orthodox rabbinate and rabbinical court system.