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Love is blind to religious affiliation and watching TV enhances the blindness, according to a survey commissioned by Tzav Pius, an organization devoted to improving relations between secular and religious Jews.
The survey, conducted by Geocartography, a pollster, showed that 61 percent of religious and haredi Israelis who watched Touching Distance, a TV show that tells of a love affair between a haredi girl and a secular Russian immigrant, said they would accept with a blessing the marriage of one of their children to a secular Jew.
In contrast, of those religious and haredi respondents who had never seen the program, just 38% said they would "accept with a blessing" the marriage of their child to a secular mate.
Yitzhak Hashko, director of Geocartography's marketing and advertising research department, said that watching Touching Distance increased openness among religious and haredi viewers.
"I can't rule out the possibility that religious and haredi respondents who watched the program were much more open to begin with," said Hashko. "But the data seem to prove otherwise."
Hashko said that while there was a significant difference in attitudes regarding marriage, which is the subject of the TV program, attitudes regarding issues such as living in a predominantly secular apartment building remained the same whether respondents had seen the program or not.
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, head of ZAKA and a prominent haredi activist, said in response to the survey that, "obviously those who agreed to let their children marry a secular spouse also assumed that their grandchildren would be sent to haredi schools. Everyone knows secular education is a complete failure."
The survey found that 20% of haredi respondents had seen the TV program, a surprising number considering the official haredi opposition to TV viewing. Many haredi households gain access to TV via the Internet.