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Israelis are more worried about expressions of anti-Semitism against Diaspora Jews than intermarriage, according to a survey released Monday by the Prime Minister's Office and Rabbi Michael Melchior, deputy minister for Israeli Society and the World Jewish Community.
Sixty percent of 503 Israeli men and women surveyed by the Shiluv Institute said they were concerned about intermarriage among Diaspora Jews, while 92% said that Israel had a duty to fight anti-Semitism abroad.
Some 61% said they were personally concerned about anti-Semitism.
Secular Israelis are considerably less concerned about intermarriage than their fellow haredi citizens, according to the survey. Only 43% who defined themselves as secular said intermarriage concerned them, compared 97% of haredim.
Women are more concerned about anti-Semitism than men. Three-fourths expressed fears for the physical welfare of Diaspora Jews, compared to 47% of men.
Publication of the survey coincides with an international Jewish volunteer effort, spearheaded by Melchior, to increase social awareness, called Global Jewish Social Action Month.
On the first day of the Jewish month of Heshvan, last Wednesday, Senator Joseph Lieberman launched the effort in Washington, DC, while Melchior did the same Monday.
Numerous events will take place over the month, including a fundraising concert and huge soup kitchen in Sao Paulo, Brazil; a challah-baking effort at Stanford University, in California; and an across-the-globe learning session, spanning several time-zones and broadcast from President Moshe Katzav's residence in Jerusalem.
According to the survey, 80% of Israelis believe that it is important to volunteer, but only 50% actually do.
Most Israelis said that the state should have a more active role in welfare. Some 70% said work done by NGO should, in fact, be done by the state.
Some 82% felt that, despite all the problems in the country, Israel should also help the victims of disasters such as the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
Melchior said, "It is encouraging to see that despite all the hardships in Israel and the reports of growing cynicism here, our people remain idealistic and committed to helping others, both Jews and non-Jews."
"The Jewish Social Action Month builds on this energy and will have a huge impact in encouraging Jews around the world to work towards bettering their societies."
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