'Most Israeli Jews in favor of haredim living separately'

61% of haredim prefer to live among themselves, rather than alongside secular communities, survey by Geocartography Research Institute finds.

Haredim in Bnei Brak (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Haredim in Bnei Brak
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The place of haredim in Israeli society is a topic hotly debated in the public, Knesset and courts, recently all the more so with the cabinet decisions aimed at eventually weaning kollel students from state allowances and raising the numbers of haredim serving in the military or civil services, which the government hopes will increase ultra-Orthodox employment rates.
But what of their physical place in Israel? A study released on Monday suggests that most Israeli Jews think it would be for the best of all sides involved to have haredim living among their own, rather than side by side with secular Israelis.
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The question that the president of the Geocartography Research Institute, Prof. Avi Degani, posed to 500 Jewish Israelis – haredim, religious, traditional and secular – last week was whether they agreed with the notion that it would be better if haredim were to live in separate haredi locales, and would not be involved in the secular populace, for the benefit of both populations.
Of the haredim asked, 61 percent agreed or agreed to a certain degree. Some 32% of the haredim disagreed with the notion that they should live separately from those who were not ultra- Orthodox. Over half of those defined as religious disagreed, while most of those defined as traditional (57%) were in favor of such a statement. Interestingly, among those defining themselves secular, 45% disagreed with the proposal of geographic separation from haredim, while a slightly smaller portion – 44% – were in favor.
“Most of the haredim tend to see the option of living apart from the general Israeli population an advantage. Yet a third of them (32%) don’t, and they are most likely those who combine Torah and employment, and are more involved in the economy,” Degani said in a statement.
“It is the Zionist religious populace that object the notion of haredi separation, due to the fact that most of the national-religious society’s lifestyle idealizes a religious life fully integrated into the general society,” Degani noted.
According to Degani, the reason that 43% of those polled object the notion of living separately from haredim (with 48% of the Jewish population in support), can be bound to the fact that such a reality would necessitate “the allocation of national funds to create an expensive separation for a small minority, which is highly nonproductive, and would demand state support of [haredi] cities formed.”
In November, a study by Degani found that the haredi population in Israel is expected to double in size within 23 years and reach 1,018,535 members in the year 2022 from the 545,000 accounted for in 1999.