'We want to separate synagogue from state,' say 55% of Israel's Jewish population

A new poll finds that more than half of Israel's Jewish residents are calling for the religious status quo to be changed.

July 10, 2017 19:21
1 minute read.
secular religious Jews

A secular and religious Jew walk arm in arm as a celebration of Jewish unity. (photo credit: KAREN ABRAMSON)


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More than half of Jewish Israelis are in favor of changing the current status quo on religious life in the public realm, believing that current arrangements reflect haredi or religious-Zionist values, a new poll has found.

The survey, conducted for the Israel Democracy Institute, found that 55% of Jewish Israelis think that the way religious issues are handled by the state should change, compared with 33% who said they oppose changes.

Activists for religious pluralism and the separation of synagogue and state have been advocating for a change in religion in the public realm for many years, with key demands including the institution of civil marriage, greater freedoms on Shabbat and the dissolution of the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on many aspects of religious life.

As well as backing change to the religious status quo, an identical percentage of those polled, 55%, said that they believed religion and state arrangements reflect haredi or religious-Zionist values, with two-thirds of secular respondents saying that such arrangements represent specifically haredi values.

Interestingly, 57% of haredi respondents said the status of religion in public life represents either secular values or traditional values.

Among secular respondents who said they would like to see change to religious life in Israel, almost 100% said they support the separation of religion and state, or at least reducing the influence of religion on life in the country.

Some 46% of religious-Zionist respondents said they would support changes to the status quo, of whom 48% want the state to be more religious and 30% want the state to be less religious.

And 42% of haredi respondents said they also support change to the status quo, 76% of whom said they would like religion to play a greater role in Israeli life.

Among those identifying as traditional-religious Jews, 49% support separating or reducing the influence of religion, while among those identifying as traditional non-religious respondents, 80% were in favor of separating religion and state.

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