Half of Israeli-Jewish population would like more non-Orthodox 'streams'

The survey was conducted for the Center for Religion, Nation and State and will be presented at the organization's annual conference at the IDI on Monday morning.

December 23, 2018 21:01
3 minute read.
kashrut certification

kashrut certification. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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According to a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), most Jews in Israel would like to see more non-Orthodox “streams” of Judaism prevalent and supported in Israeli society, and believe that Diaspora Jewry should not have any bearing over Israeli policymaking.

The survey, conducted for the Center for Religion, Nation and State, will be presented at the organization’s annual conference at the IDI on Monday morning.

The survey revealed many differences in opinion with regards to the prevalence of religion and religious services in Israeli society. Around 57% of the Israeli Jewish public believe that non-religious entities should be able to offer their own religious services in Israel, with 33% opposing the shift and 10% being undecided. Half of said sample would support a government decision to budget these services.

“The Jewish public thinks that the rabbinate is corrupt, and that the quality of the kashrut supervision it provides is poor,” said Dr. Shuki Friedman, director of the Center for Religion, Nation and State at the Israel Democracy Institute. “On the other hand, the majority of Jews who use religious services want them to be provided by the Chief Rabbinate. Considering that the majority of the Jewish public also thinks that other streams should receive state budgets – now is the time to take advantage of this unique opportunity both to enhance pluralism and to improve the quality of religious services provided by the state.”

The satisfaction of state-funded religious services correlates directly with the age of the sample population, according to the IDI survey. There is a 65% approval rating for kashrut services, whereas only 49% of those under the age of 40 are satisfied with the state-run kashrut certification entities and even less with the private sector.

With regard to the Jewish Diaspora shaping Israeli affairs, 50% of the Jewish population in Israel believe that the government should not take the views of the Diaspora public into account when creating Israeli policy.

“The relationship between the state of Israel and the Diaspora suffers from an internal dissonance,” the survey said. On the one hand, at least on the declarative level, the recently passed Nation-State Law includes an explicit commitment to the Diaspora.
“On the other hand, in practice with regard to the provision of religious services, the state disregards the majority of Diaspora Jewry who belong to non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. This de-facto non-recognition by the State of non-Orthodox streams conveys a message of disrespect and exclusion, thus widening the rift among the Jewish people,” said Professor Yedidia Stern, vice president of the IDI, regarding the IDI’s findings.

The majority of the Jewish Diaspora and almost half of Israelis do not keep kosher, and those who do are only interested in Chief Rabbinate or Badatz’s kashrut recommendations. Forty-five percent of the population do not follow kashrut laws at all. Only 38% of those who keep kosher are strict about following those eating restrictions outside of their home.

With regard to the different services, among those who declared they keep kosher, only 33% of the population are satisfied with the Chief Rabbinate’s recommendations, which in itself is a state-run entity. Among the ultra-Orthodox, only 23% agree the rabbinate’s recommendation are satisfactory to adhere by.

With regard to private supervision (Badatz) services, only 33% claimed that they follow Badatz restrictions, showing most Israeli’s will not settle for a private kashrut service, leaning heavily on state-run programs.

All-in-all the population of Israel, mainly the Israeli non-religious sector, feels ignored when it comes to government decision making on national and societal restrictions. Kashrut and state-funded religious services are mainly used only in the minority, while non-Orthodox religious services are not funded in a great enough sense to reflect the actual population statistics.

Many Israelis support reforms for public transportation on Shabbat, the implementation and funding of non-Orthodox religious “stream” services, the ability for business to employ their own kashrut entities as well as the ability for Israelis to live their lives away from the religious pressure of the Orthodox sector. However, religious entities within the government and society vehemently forbid these changes. As the population statistics shift in a direction toward a clear non-religious majority, government and societal reforms are bound to take place.

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