Press Release

Religious Services and Pluralism Survey

Half of the Jews in Israel support expanding the freedom of activity of non-Orthodox Jewish streams - what do Israeli Jews think about religious services offered in Israel?

Illustration | Flash 90

December 23, 2018 - A survey conducted for the Center for Religion, Nation and State for its annual conference, to be held tomorrow (in Hebrew) at the Israel Democracy Institute, reveals that close to half of Israelis do not keep kosher, but of those who do - most will not settle for private or Tzohar’s supervision (a new religious-Zionist rabbinical kashrut supervising agency) and are only interested in the Chief Rabbinate or Badatz’s kashrut certificate. Additionally, most Jews in Israel believe that the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism in Israel should be budgeted and supported and do not think diaspora Jewry should have any influence on the shaping of policy on religious issues in Israel.

Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institute commented on the survey findings: “The relationship between the state of Israel and the Diaspora suffers from an internal dissonance. On the one hand, at least on the declarative level, the recently passed Nation-State Law includes an explicit commitment to the Diaspora. On the other hand, in practice with regard to the provision of religious services, the state disregards the majority of Diaspora Jewry who belong to non-orthodox streams of Judaism. This de-facto non-recognition by the State of non-orthodox streams conveys a message of disrespect and exclusion, thus widening the rift among the Jewish people.”

Survey Highlights:

Israel and the Diaspora –A bit more than half of the Jewish public (57%) believes that non-Orthodox (Reform and Conservative) streams should be allowed to offer their own religious services in Israel, compared to only 33% who oppose. In addition half of the respondents (50%) support the budgeting of non-Orthodox streams according to their share of the population, compared with 37% who oppose. However, when it comes to shaping policy towards religious issues in Israel, 50% of the Israeli public thinks that the State of Israel should not take Diaspora Jewry into account, compared with only 38% who think it should be taken into account, and 12% who responded that they didn’t know.

Kashrut - Almost half of the Jewish public in Israel (45%) does not adhere to Kashrut laws; 38% do; and 16% eat only kosher food at home but eat non-kosher food outside the home. 43% are dissatisfied with the quality of the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate, compared to only 33% who are satisfied. Among the ultra-Orthodox, only 23% believe that the quality of kashrut supervision provided by the Chief Rabbinate is satisfactory agree.

Badatz (the ultra-Orthodox agency certifying kashrut) or Private Supervision - among those who declare that they keep kosher, 33% said that they abide by the kashrut certificates of Badatz or Mehadrin, while 46.5% are satisfied with a regular Kashrut certificate from the Chief Rabbinate. Only 20% of those who keep kosher would be satisfied with a declaration by a business owner that he or she is strict about kashrut; supervision of the Rabbinate of Tzohar; or private supervision. It should be noted that even among the secular who strictly adhere to kashrut, only 38% will make do with such a declaration or supervision.

State Religious Services - within the Jewish national-religious public the levels of satisfaction with religious services provided by the state vary greatly according to age. Thus, for example, while 64% of those under the age of 40 are satisfied with the service of mikvaot (ritual baths), 86% of those over the age of 40 are satisfied. Only 49% under 40 are satisfied with the kashrut supervision, while 65% over 40 gave it a good grade. In addition only 33% of those under 40 were satisfied with burial services while 64% of those over 40 gave it a good grade.

Dr. Shuki Friedman, Director of the Center for Religion, Nation and State at the Israel Democracy Institute said: “The Jewish public thinks that the rabbinate is corrupt, and that the quality of the kashrut supervision it provides is poor. On the other hand, the majority of Jews who use religious services want them to be provided by the Chief Rabbinate. Considering that the majority of the Jewish public also thinks that other streams should receive state budgets – now is the time to take advantage of this unique opportunity both to enhance pluralism and to improve the quality of religious services provided by the state.”

* The survey was conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute, headed by Prof. Tamar Hermann, by the Panels LTD survey center, December 13-16, 2018. The survey included 502 Jewish respondents who constitute a representative national sample of this population.