Poll: Israelis from FSU very connected to Judaism

93% of Israelis of Soviet descent say they regularly celebrate Jewish holidays, according to Shroashim poll.

May 24, 2012 17:45
1 minute read.
Jew blows shofar at Kotel

Jew blows shofar at Kotel 390. (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

The million or so immigrants that came to Israel from the former Soviet Union during the 1990s have sometimes been accused of having tenuous ties to Judaism, but a recent survey shows they feel passionately about their religious identity.

An overwhelming 93 percent of Israelis with a background in the FSU said they regularly celebrated holidays like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana and Passover, according to a poll released by a Jewish group on Wednesday.

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The survey commissioned by Shorashim, an organization that facilitates statesanctioned conversions for Russian-speaking Israelis to Judaism, gauged the community’s relationship with religion.

Some 68% of respondents identified as secular, 17% said they were traditional and 12% said they were religious or ultra-Orthodox.

Marriage has been a troublesome issue for Russianspeaking Israelis. Many are either not recognized as Jewish by the state and therefore cannot get married in the rabbinate, or they oppose its monopoly on conducting marriages and divorces. As a result, some 69% of respondents said they tied the knot in civil ceremonies or outside the country.

Approximately 51% said they were open to the possibility of undergoing official conversions to Judaism.

“These are hundreds of thousands of Jews who under communism experienced spiritual oppression by the communist regime,” Shalom Norman, an official with Shorashim, said.

“Our main goal is to support the strengthening of the Jewish component in society in Israel and ways of facilitating that for hundreds of thousands of olim.”

The survey conducted by Maagar Mochot sampled 501 adults aged 18 and over who identified as being from the FSU. The margin of error is 4.5%.

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