Most Israelis want religion, state separated

An annual research study shows that most Israeli Jews favor a separation of state and religion.

The Hiddush Association’s Religion and State Index, published in cooperation with Ynet, shows that 61 percent of Israelis support separating religious from governmental control — a 9 percent increase from last year.

About two-thirds of Israeli Jews support opening businesses on Shabbat, and 62 percent are in favor of recognizing all types of marriages; but 61 percent would rather that they or their children marry through the Orthodox Rabbinate.

When those statistics are broken down by the respondent’s religious observance, a picture emerges of a society deeply divided.

On the question of separating religion and state, 84 percent of secular Jews are in favor, whereas 83 percent of haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, 73 percent of religious Jews and 54 percent of “traditional” Jews favor the status quo.

According to the survey, 51 percent of the public believes the tension between the ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews is most difficult conflict in Israeli society.

On converting to Judaism, 39 percent favor preserving the present Orthodox monopoly (100 percent of haredim, 80 percent of religious Jews and 46 percent of traditional Jews), while 36 percent would open the door to other methods of conversion.

The Religion and State Index was conducted by the Smith Institute among 800 respondents, with a sampling error of 3.5 percent. —