The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society

Joan and Irwin Jacobs Distinguished Fellow: Former President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin


The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society is a new IDI initiative focused on strengthening social solidarity and fostering commitment to democratic values in Israel. The establishment of the Center was made possible by a landmark gift from Irwin and Joan Jacobs, who have endowed it in perpetuity.

The Center, established in 2021, is dedicated to carrying on the important work Rivlin launched as President under the banner of the “Israeli Hope Initiative.”

As President Rivlin remarked in his historic speech from 2015: “I have identified a very real threat in our collective suppression of the transformations that Israeli society has been undergoing in recent decades… it is the distribution into four principal tribes that make up Israeli society, that reveals its basic structure; a structure that we shall never have the ability or the power to blur or erase…the ‘new Israeli order’ now requires us to abandon the accepted view of a majority and minorities and move to a new concept of partnership between the various population sectors in our society.”

The creation of the new Center will enable placement of the Institute’s key social integration initiatives and its focus on meeting the unique challenges arising from Israel's dual identity as a Jewish nation-state and a liberal democracy, under a single organizational framework, creating cross-disciplinary synergies and fostering respectful dialogue between representatives of the various “tribes” that make up contemporary Israeli society. The Center’s initial focus will be on efforts to integrate Israel’s Arab citizens and its ultra-Orthodox population into society and the economy as it seeks to attenuate the inherent tensions between religion and state. It will also promote religious pluralism, efforts to reduce tensions between secular and religious Israelis and build bridges between Israel and the Diaspora. The programmatic initiatives undertaken by the Center will combine applied research with public outreach, and showcase the Institute’s growing commitment to the inculcation of a common ethos of democratic citizenship across all sectors of Israel’s diverse society.

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    Prof. Suzie Navot

    Vice President, Research

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    Suzie Navot is a full professor of constitutional and parliamentary law and, prior to her appointment, was a member of the faculty of the Striks School of Law at the College of Management Academic Studies. She earned a bachelor's degree in law from Tel Aviv University, an M.A in public policy from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tel Aviv University and holds a doctorate in law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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    Adv. Shlomit Ravitsky Tur-Paz

    Director of the Center and Head of the Religion and State Program at the Center

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    Co-founded and co-directed Itim – the Jewish Life Advocacy Center– an organization that committed to increasing participation in Jewish life by making Israel’s religious establishment respectful of and responsive to the diverse Jewish needs of the Jewish people. In this capacity, she has appeared before the Rabbinic Courts on issues of conversion, marriage, and divorce.

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    Dr. Gilad Malach

    Head, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program; Research Fellow

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    Dr. Gilad Malach is the Director of IDI's Ultra-Orthodox in Israel program. He co-authored the Master Plan for Ultra-Orthodox Employment (along with Doron Cohen and Haim Zicherman) and was editor of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel (in copperation with Dr. Lee Cahaner and Dr. Maya Choshen).

    He was director of implementation of the Gabison-Meidan Covenant Project at the Avi Chai Foundation and content manager of the Committee on Sharing the Security Burden in the Eighteenth Knesset.

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    Prof. Daniel Statman

    Senior Fellow, Religion and State Program

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    Prof. Daniel Statman is a lecturer at the Philosophy department of the University of Haifa and specializes in ethics and political philosophy. He has served on several public committees, including the committee that revised the ethical code for the IDF, the committee that is responsible for decisions on new medicines to be covered by the national medical insurance, and the ethical committee of Ha-Emek hospital.

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    Prof. Benny Porat

    Senior Fellow, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program, Religion and State Program

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    A senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the director of the Matz Institute for Jewish Law. After completing his doctorate at the Hebrew University, he was hosted as a post-doctoral fellow by the University of Toronto

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    Adv. Edna Harel - Fisher

    Research Fellow, Religion and State Program

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    Edna Harel-Fisher leads policy research at the institute on the topic of funding for culture, ‘Mamlachtiyut’, and freedom of speech.

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    Dr. Lee Cahaner

    Research Fellow, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Dr. Lee Cahaner, a social geographer, is a senior lecturer and head of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Oranim Academic College of Education. Cahaner is also a research associate in the Israel Democracy Institute's Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program.

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    Prof. Benjamin Brown

    Research Fellow, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    An expert on ultra-Orthodox Judaism and its religious formation. The author of the book The Chazon Ish, Brown did his post-doctoral work at Harvard University.

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    Dr. Rivka Neriya Ben-Shahar

    Senior Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Dr. Rivka Neriya Ben-Shahar is a senior lecturer at Sapir Academic College in Sderot, Israel, teaching courses in research methods, communication, religion, and gender. Her doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was entitled "Ultra-Orthodox Women and Mass Media in Israel – Exposure Patterns and Reading Strategies."

    She was a Fulbright post-doctoral fellow and a Scholar in Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, and worked on a study of women's cultural-religious praxes.

    Dr. Neriya Ben-Shahar researches the mass media from the perspectives of religion and gender. Her most recent research project addresses the tension between religious values and new technologies among Old Order Amish women and Jewish ultra-Orthodox women.

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    Gabriel Gordon

    Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    He holds a Master's degree in Economics and Environmental studies.

    His research focuses on demographics and trends within the Israeli labor force.

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    Dr. Asaf Malchi

    Senior Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Dr. Asaf Malchi is a senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, in the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel program. His research focuses on current social and economic trends  in the community, in the areas of employment,  higher education, military and Civilian National Service, and more. These studies provide important input to decision makers in crafting policy on the ultra-Orthodox.

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    Dr. Ariel Finkelstein

    Researcher, Religion and State Program and Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Dr. Ariel Finkelstein holds s bachelor's degree from the Integrated Program for Philosophy, Economics and Political Science at Hebrew University, and a Master's degree in Public Policy, with a specialization in local government administration and management from Haifa University, as part of the Ministry of Local Government's "Cadets for Local Government" program.

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    Tehila Gado

    Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Has an MA in Criminology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a lecturer at the Ono Academic College.

    Her PhD thesis deals with religious violence between ultra-orthodox spouses. Her research in general deals with the study of the ultra-orthodox society in Israel: trends of change in this society, religious and cultural perceptions and ideology, Rabbinical leadership and interfaces between culture and religiosity.

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    Ayala Goldberg

    Research Assistant, Religion and State Program

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    Research assistant in the Religion and State program at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society, and a local governance project within the Public Service Reform program. Holds a Bachelor's degree in the PPE program from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Currently a Master's student in government and public policy at the Open University.

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    Eliyahu Berkovits

    Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program and Religion and State Program

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    Eliyahu is a PhD student in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a graduate of ‘Ateret Israel’ and ‘Mir’ yeshivas.

    He has a Masters in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University and a BA in Humanities from the Open University of Israel.

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    Adi Wiener

    Research Assistant in the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Adi is researching trends of leaving the Haredi community, as part of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society, and is set to participate in additional research projects.

    She is a PhD candidate at the School of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University, holds an M.A. in Talmud from Tel Aviv University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Jewish History from the Hebrew University.

    Adi took part in various research projects, including discourse monitoring in international media project at the Hebrew University, media coverage of 2011 protest project at Hadassah Academic College, and Cairo Geniza Jewish texts project at Tel Aviv University.

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    Gilad Cohen Kovacs

    Researcher, Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

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    Gilad is an economist and a sociologist by training, a graduate of the PPE program (philosophy, economics, political science) for a bachelor's degree and the economics program for a master's degree (research track), both from the Hebrew University, and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University.

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    Ya'ari Padan

    Research Assistant

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The recent municipal elections produced particularly interesting results in Arab local authorities. Below, we examine several aspects of these results relating to the representation of Arab women.

We examine the increased burden of reserve service that the defense establishment is seeking to impose on the population groups that already perform regular and reserve service, and the economic-budgetary implications of this step for the period through to 2050.

IDI's Dr. Gilad Malach explains what a fair draft law for the ultra-Orthodox would look like. One that would distribute the burden over Israel's security more equally while enabling young Haredi men to integrate into the job market.

Dr. Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar proposes a model that resembles the secular educational system of colleges and universities to identify the most gifted torah scholars, who would receive a generous stipend. Others must rethink their role as part of Israeli society.

This study was designed to assess the level of satisfaction among students in higher yeshivot (ages 17 and above), their personal and social challenges, and their attitudes toward possible alternatives to yeshiva studies, such as vocational training and employment.

Response to the Government's Proposal for Haredi (non-) Conscription by Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute, and Dr. Gilad Malach, Head of IDI's Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program

What is the connection between the expiration of the conscription law and the budgets for yeshivas? What exactly was discussed in the Supreme Court and is the state in violation of the law? Bottom line, will the ultra-Orthodox be recruited, or not?

Yohanan Plesner, president of IDI and head of the 2012 Plesner committee which sought to implement a model of "service for all," and Dr. Gilad Malach, head of the ultra-Orthodox program at IDI, share their analysis of the rapid increase in the number of yeshiva and kollel students over the past year. 

Internal struggles between factions within the Sepharadic ultra-religious movement Shas are only beginning. The absence of the unifying figure of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is still sorely felt, and only time will tell whether the rabbinical elite or the Knesset members representing a moderate electorate will gain the upper hand.

The legal basis for deferring military service for Yeshiva students no longer exists, removing legal justification for the transference of funds to religious institutions with students under 26. Funding for Torah study institutions is the most substantial question that needs to be addressed at the current time, when Israeli society is rethinking its relations with the Haredi public. 

Arab-Israeli public officials are being increasingly targeted by criminals, hoping to get their way through threats, extortion and force ahead of Tuesday's local elections. Running for office shouldn't cost people their lives.

In Israel, social borders, political demands and the status of women continue to underscore tensions between liberal democratic values and the conservative, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

How are elections in ultra-Orthodox municipalities different from those in non-orthodox local authorities? Are they comparable to the Arab community? A survey an analysis of the political structure of Haredi local authorities. 

First chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Second chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Third chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fourth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fifth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

56% of all Arab Israelis say the attack by Hamas on October 7 does not reflect Arab society, the Palestinian people, and the Islamic nation. 33% say it does and 11% are unsure.

Israel's non-Jewish minorities—particularly those who are fighting and dying for the State of Israel—are worthy of appreciation and recognition, not separately, but as equals. The solution is to amend the Nation State Law, not to pass a new, separate basic law as is currently under consideration.

Conciliation between Jews and Arabs in Israel is not just a moral imperative, but also a necessary condition for maintaining peace and stability in the country.

The political mainstream in Arab society identifies with the Palestinian cause, namely the struggle for a two-state solution and peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The vast majority of Arab citizens strongly criticizes Hamas’ practices and completely rejects Hamas’ militant approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The heads of the established traditional Haredi yeshivot have instructed their institutions to continue studies as normal during the current state of emergency, in accordance with the belief in the power of Torah study to protect the people of Israel. By contrast, the messages heard from various other rabbis reflect an understanding of changing needs and offer a blueprint for a new leadership vision.

A growing number of Haredi men are volunteering for the IDF following the outbreak of the war against Hamas. This trend may signify that the “modern Haredi” phenomenon may be developing into a real movement.  

The judicial overhaul is forcing Jewish Israelis to choose to identify, in an almost dichotomic manner with one of two camps. As they clash, the real loser is our unifying, complex, diverse, and open Jewish identity. 

Ditching the 5-year plan for the Arab sector will have adverse long-term effects on the Arab's sector ability to integrate into Israel's shared society.

In recent weeks it seems that something notable is happening in the Israeli haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community when it comes to teaching math, English and science in schools almost exclusively devoted to religious instruction.

Following the death of Rabbi Edelstein, the Haredi community faces a new and unprecedented situation. The identity of the new leader is not obvious, and whoever is chosen will be weaker than his predecessors. This places more power in the hands of the operatives, who bear no real responsibility.

This explainer will cover the current structure of the Haredi education system, its pedagogical requirements and the budgets it receives from the Government.

The reform proposal and the resulting protests brought to light and to a large extent also created conflicts on religious and ethnic grounds. The findings of this research reveal a strong relation between levels of religiosity and support or opposition to the judicial overhaul.

The current model of the yeshiva and kollel world, in which all men are channelled for long years of study serves the goal of keeping young ultra-Orthodox men off the secular street. Paradoxically, the main victim is the Torah world itself.

How would different tracks of enlistment change the longstanding Israeli ethos of service and sacrifice for the state and society?

The OECD recommends granting local authorities’ greater autonomy in setting local taxation. The program being pursued by the current government raises fears of central government taking control of the Arnona (municipal tax) Fund, as has happened in the past.

The ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Conscription bill, if passed into law, would in effect, allow Haredi men to totally avoid military service.

For years, ultra-Orthodox leadership has been protesting that the internet will bring rack and ruin on the entire community and on individual users, however, the internet and especially the social networks, play a major role in the internal reforms that the ultra-Orthodox must introduce.

Young adults in every society are the face of that society's future, and Arab society in Israel is no different. They face a complex set of daily struggles, in all areas, in their attempt to forge a good future for themselves, their community, and society at large.

The deep fear expressed by the leadership of Israelis haredim is not of external criticism, but of an internal blurring of identity and straying from the path.

The Israel Democracy Institute published new chapters of the first Biennial Statistical Report on Religion and State.

The law for “adequate and appropriate representation” that is progressing along the Knesset legislative path is neither just, nor fair; it is neither wise nor ethical. And above all, it is not ultra-Orthodox.

The death penalty for terrorists bill may pass the Knesset in what may be a dream come true for some and a horrific nightmare for others.

The question of how much power the government should wield was one that generations of halakhic decisors (poskim) worked to curtail.

Is a deep tectonic shift taking place in ultra-Orthodox politics, as Haredi voters are finding their voice?

To enhance ultra-Orthodox men’s prospects in the Israeli job market – new and innovate solutions, by way of education, must be put in place.

A special survey Jacobs Center for Shared Society and the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, found that almost half of Israelis think that the diaspora Jewry should be part of the public debate on the Law of Return and 51% think that canceling the "grandchild clause" in the Law of Return is liable to significantly reduce immigration to Israel.

Dr. Gilad Malach discusses the latest “Annual Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel”, with Tel Aviv Review hosts Gilad Halpern and Yael Berda. The ultra-Orthodox parties are back in government with a vengeance, after almost two years in Opposition. How did their stay in the political wilderness affect their constituency, and what trends can already be observed?

The seventh annual report on ultra-Orthodox society in Israel found that in 2021 78% of ultra-Orthodox women and 51% of the men participate in the workforce; preliminary reports show a slight improvement in the first three quarters of 2022 - 80% and 53% respectively. In addition 44% of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel live in poverty

First chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Second chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Third chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fourth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fifth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Sixth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

We must not allow autonomous Haredi enclave to continue to develop within the State of Israel – it will be to everyone’s detriment.

Will the ultra-Orthodox break with tradition in the next government, by serving as ministers – or will they continue to the masquerade of serving as deputy ministers with status of ministers? Probably not – but they should.

The demographic explosion of the ultra-Orthodox sector will no doubt lead the two partners in United Torah Judaism to divorce. When that happens, the minorities including the “New Haredim,” will wield greater power and demand that their children have a future in the working world.

70% of Jewish Israelis do not accept patrilineal descent and therefore do not consider those born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother to be Jewish. The new IDI survey reveals what Israelis really think on matters of religion and state

Notwithstanding the drama related to the question of whether the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi parties will continue to run together in the current election, there are voices within these communities that might render this arrangement unacceptable in the near future.

IDI’s inaugural Biennial Statistical Report on Religion and State was published ahead of the annual conference organized by the Religion and State Program in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society.

On questions of religion and state the tensions between the centralized and decentralized approaches can be misleading and creative rethinking might provides opportunities for achieving new agreements and a more balanced reality

Is the insistence on preventing public transportation on Shabbat for those who would use it a lost cause - and should it even be a cause at all?



Shlomit Ravitsky-Tur Paz, Director of IDI’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society, joined Gilad Halpern and Yael Berda of the Tel Aviv Review podcast to discuss the findings presented in the inaugural Biennial Statistical Report on Religion and State. Compiled based on existing data, detailed surveys and research conducted “in the field,” The Statistical Report on Religion and State, provides a vast base of knowledge on the contentious topic at the core of this issue including marriage and divorce, conversion, burial, prayer, and public Shabbat observance.

Based on her address to a special event in Basel, Switzerland, marking the 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, Shlomit Ravitsky Tur-Paz, calls for today’s generation to view Zionism not only as a vehicle for building a state, but also for enhancing and enriching Israeli society.

125 years ago, Herzl failed to convince ultra-Orthodox leadership to join the Zionist movement, and while their leadership did sign the Declaration of Independence in 1948, they Haredim remained in their “enclave” communities. Now, if modern-day Israel is to continue to thrive, integration of the ultra-Orthodox is crucial

While its size may be small, the Edah Haredit ultra-Orthodox group has significant influence over the Haredi society as well as the general Israeli public.

Conversion in Israel must follow the example of Ruth so that we can extend our open arms to those seeking to join

People today are largely judged on merits and not their lineage - except when technology preserves an inherited 'illegitimate' status in ways Jewish law never anticipated.

Despite the many challenges integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the workforce is essential for the well-being of Israeli society, the labor market, and the ultra-Orthodox community itself

This new study offers the perspective of Jewish Israelis who are not ultra-Orthodox—their attitudes on ultra-Orthodox integration in the labor market and their experience with employing the ultra-Orthodox or working alongside them on a daily basis.

For now, no one in the next cadre of prominent Lithuanian rabbis stands out as likely to inherit the leadership mantle at a relatively young age.

A new IDI study finds that 26% of ultra-Orthodox men say they don’t know English at all and an additional 28% say their English is "poor."

Finance Minister Liberman’s employment incentives for members of the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community are a "mix of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ and could encourage members of the Haredi community to join the labor market - however elements of the plan could also expand the existing trend of part-time employment.

They do reduce the Rabbinate's centralized power, but in very different ways, which fundamentally upholds the rabbis' authority, rather than undermining it

Despite public criticism, two thirds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis are now online

Ultra-Orthodox Jews now make up 13% of Israelis, and are continuing to grow rapidly. In 2020, the pandemic led to an increase in the number of applicants for professional and academic training, especially among ultra-Orthodox men

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased school dropout rates due to its exacerbation of the already emotional, social, and academic crises affecting multiple age and population groups.

First chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Third chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fourth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fifth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Sixth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Growing willingness to report sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox society: The last two decades have seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases of sexual abuse or violence against children treated by social service agencies in ultra-Orthodox local authorities, where today- the rate of abuse is higher than in other local authorities

The friction and hostility we witnessed today at one of Judaism's holiest sites is unacceptable and could have been avoided if the previously agreed upon 'Western Wall Compromise' had been honored.

What are the ramifications of recent developments, and especially of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the economic resilience of ultra-Orthodox households in Israel?

88% of the products sold in supermarkets in Israel have duplicate kashrut certifications resulting in excess costs to both suppliers and consumers. Analysis by IDI experts Finkelstein and Abensour reveals why reform is overdue

Prof. Daniel Statman discusses his new co-authored book State and Religion is Israel, a joint legal and philosophical attempt to conceptualize the role of religion in democratic regimes.

In this season of slichot (penitence) we should ask ourselves - does the essence of apology lie in the sense of regret, or in its expression?

Congratulations to the Bennett government on approving the outline for lowering the age of the students exempted from service in the IDF to 21. This is a vital and necessary step that the Israel Democracy Institute has recommended in recent years. A kind of necessary evil that will lead in the short term to the entry of about 5,000 ultra-Orthodox into the labor market and thousands more in the coming years.

Survey finds lowering the exemption age is not likely to reduce the number of ultra-Orthodox conscripts to the IDF, however it will encourage thousands of ultra-Orthodox men to enter the workforce.

Dr. Gilad Malach is interviewed on Kan Radion on a recent Supreme Court ruling allowing institutions of higher learning to have separate classrooms for men and women and what the implications will be for the integration of the ultra-Orthodox into Israeli society.

Dr. Gilad Malach on the Finance Minister's Decision Regarding Daycare Subsidies: "This is a welcome decision that will end the preferential treatment that ultra-Orthodox households have enjoyed"

There are many urgent things on the new government's desk - will they have the ability to tackle questions on religion and state?

There has been much talk and little action about the need to delegate powers to the local authorities. Now is the time for actual be movement on the ground.

An increasing number of young Ultra-Orthodox women are choosing not to go down the traditional path of studies preparing them for a teaching career. Instead, they are enrolling in academic institutions to study subjects that will help them embark on a professional career and hopefully be reflected in their income.


Though this handful of demonstrators is not representative of ultra-Orthodox society as a whole, it reflects a growing trend among young ultra-Orthodox men who find an outlet in right-wing protests.

Ultra-Orthodox women’s employment in Israel has undergone a revolution in recent years—that is, the diversification of the occupations in which they are employed

"These conversions now have official recognition of what is perhaps the most important Israeli law: the Law of Return" 

Government agencies have not geared up to effectively address the phenomenon of marginalized ultra-Orthodox youth

A new study by IDI expert Ariel Finkelstein presents a detailed and systematic analysis of the conduct of Israel's rabbinical courts - finds 30% of complaints categorized as: "Violation of the Principles of Natural Justice"

First chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Second chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Third chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fourth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fifth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Sixth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Second chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

The real reason behind Israel's elections: The Knesset dispersed itself because one man, the prime minister, finds himself in a situation in which his fate depends on the courts.

Dr. Gilad Malach, Director of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, discusses how the COVID pandemic has affected the internal dynamics of Israel's Haredi communities, their relationship with their political leadership and with government as a whole.


62% of Haredim have very little or no confidence in Prime Minister Netanyahu's Handling of COVID-19; 60% think decision makers are guided mostly or only by political concerns

For many, the spiritual and educational dangers inherent in leaving large numbers of young people with no binding religious framework outweigh the health risks in keeping these institutions open



This study provides first-ever reliable estimate of the rate and scope of transitions into and out of the ultra-Orthodox community; an analysis made possible thanks to innovative methodology and a rich dataset. 


Although 25 years have passed since that terrible night - the mourning for a murdered prime minister, assassinated out of political and religious motives, must never fade away and must never be forgotten

In the second wave of the pandemic it seems that many ultra-Orthodox rabbis are assigning higher priority to 'customer retention' than to the clear halakhic imperative to preserve health and life

Rabbi Kanievsky’s decision to disregard the law and open ultra-Orthodox schools is the first time in Israeli history that we are seeing something that approaches a call for mass civil disobedience orchestrated by a key public figure.

IDI experts present analysis of recent behavior of the ultra-Orthodox sector and present recommendations for an exit strategy from the lockdown, to be applied in the coming weeks and months.

How does Israel’s national-ultra-Orthodox population (“Hardalim”) combine ideals of the "new Jew" with their ultra-Orthodox religious world view?

IDI experts analyze recent behavior of the ultra-Orthodox sector and present recommendations for a staggered exit strategy from the lockdown.

The coronavirus crisis proves once again that the lives of all Israelis are intertwined with those of the ultra-Orthodox and the country cannot be sustained with an autonomy living behind closed walls. Without shared responsibility for public health - 'normal life' will not be possible the post-COVID-19 era

Israeli secularism has largely abandoned the ideal of the “new Jew” in recent decades, but religious Zionism has remained fervently loyal to it

Political positions, ideologies and worldviews, support for the Prime Minister or opposition to him—have been transformed into religious beliefs - a dangerous development for the future of Israeli society

Protest is essential during lockdown. So is prayer. Even if freedom of expression is constitutionally ranked above communal prayer, tipping the scales between them undermines public confidence.

As Israel has grappled with the resurgence of COVID-19, tribalism has become more fierce as the country shifted from a state with a deep-seated sense of solidarity to a society in which the interests of one’s own sector comes first.


This past year has been has been like no other in our history and the months ahead will be every bit as challenging. Nevertheless, we at IDI are confident in the future of Israel as we wish our friends around the world a safe, healthy and sweet new year.

Ultra-Orthodox communities have been very critical of their political leaders for not advocating vigorously enough on their behalf at the beginning of the COVID crisis. Now, the ultra-Orthodox parties are at the forefront of the contentious demand to permit mass travel to Uman.

“We must find ways to live together, not necessarily to decide in favor of one or another direction.” Prof. Ruth Gavison

The Kashrut market in Israel is still very much a monopoly market driven and all of Israelis are paying the price

Every generation has its own barns, whose stock is the source of its national resilience. We have a supreme obligation to protect them against those who would set them afire to promote their ideology

The government must be attuned to the will of the overwhelming majority of the people and amend the Nation State Law by adding the obligation to act in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence

Jewish communities around the world have been hard-hit by the coronavirus and are still struggling to deal with its implications. In an in-depth study, Dr. Shuki Friedman and Gabriel Abensour analyze how the pandemic has created challenges for halakha (Jewish law) and upended communal life and what these communities should be preparing for when this crisis finally subsides.

Tel Aviv wants to set its own policies, regardless of what the rest of the nation desires. It will go it alone, but will still take funds from the national government.

Now more than ever Israel needs a leader who will bolster its inner strength - is the leadership up to the task? 

Reinforcing the Rabbinate's monopoly on conversion to Judaism places unnecessary roadblocks before those who want to join the Jewish people and deepens the rift with the Diaspora

The Israeli religious courts are being handed back to the ultra-Orthodox parties - will they adhere to professional standards?

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, IDI experts present a status report on the current state of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community as well as policy recommendations for how to better integrate them into Israeli society

After three contentious election campaigns Israel's new government has been sworn in. IDI's experts weigh-in with their recommendations on the most important issues on the agenda. Dr. Shuki Friedman on the challenges facing the 35th government in matters of religion and state.

The Prime Minister’s supporters are trying to entrench a perception among the public that he is facing a political – rather than a criminal – trial.

Live broadcasts brings a breath of fresh air and a better understanding of the Supreme Court

Israel's High Court handed down a unanimous decision - and the public saw for themselves that there was no devious plot to undermine the separation of powers.

Many Israelis attribute a left-wing bias to the Supreme Court and accuse it of extreme activism, but the hearings that were broadcast live highlight the vast gulf between the Court's image and the reality

In recent years, many comparisons have been made between two communities in Israel - the ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis. The coronavirus crisis has brought previously held assumptions into question.

The lack of exposure to mainstream media outlets and the internet limits this community's access to Health Ministry instructions on the coronavirus.

The tragic results of initial faulty advice from leading rabbis is a wake-up call to Haredi Jews to start making their own decisions.

The cause for the past year's political crisis lie in the ever-widening gap between the two main pillars of the State of Israel’s identity—its “Jewish” and “democratic” components.

Dr. Gilad Malach held a press briefing focused on the coronavirus’ effect on the ultra-Orthodox in Israel and what might be the long term implications for employment, use of technology and the attitude towards official state authorities in this often isolated community.

How can we curb the spread of the coronavirus in the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel? IDI experts explain

Calls for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry the day after the corona, in the midst of the crisis, can lead decision-makers to make decisions based on wrong considerations

Israel finds itself in an unprecedented political situation at a time it must face a worldwide pandemic.

Let’s imagine a conversation between Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook, religious Zionism’s greatest thinker, and the four Yamina Party leaders.

A 3-pronged plan to change the balance of power in government threatens everyone who cares about human rights, regardless of politics

A proposal by the panel appointed to investigate ultra-Orthodox enlistment to lower the exemption age defies multiple High Court rulings

After years of struggles over issues related to religion and state, we hereby agree to adopt a new approach, which will create a covenant to provide a new system of arrangements and agreements to strengthen the link between the Israeli public and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.

Jewish Diaspora communities find it hard to identify with Israel and Israel's Jewery.

In the case of a MK against whom the attorney-general has decided to file an indictment, the members of his party and of his Knesset bloc vote as one.

Rabbis are not necessarily any better or worse than other politicians.

Turning 1.2 million Israelis with FSU origins into a state-sanctioned punching bag is intolerable, and calls for radical and immediate change

First chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Second chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Third chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fourth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Fifth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Sixth chapter of six of the 'Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel'

Israel's once sacrosanct status quo seems less relevant than ever, with the essence of what it means to be a Jewish state in flux and at stake.

The 2019 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel provides both a snapshot of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel today and an analysis of trends characterizing this community in recent decades, in key areas such as demography, education, employment, and use of leisure time.

Israeli Voters, Not Judges, Must Determine Who Will Lead the Country Next

Profit remains the ultimate objective, but the focus should be on profit for all those with a stake in a company, and not just its shareholders

As a rule, it is not just their extremist ideology that has sent them to camp on the hilltops, but also the alternative they have chosen to replace the staid, bourgeois life they left behind.

The tension between the "military service for all" and "exemption for all" represents the tradeoff between the quest for equality and the existing political-social reality.

The results speak for themselves. Shas, headed by Arye Deri, registered a resounding success with traditional voters. But is this a long term victory?

All of us face the dread of the unknown future and the fate it holds for us.

Despite all the fears, voter turnout was quite respectable (the third-highest rate in the seven elections this century).

Recent elections have brought to fore the struggle between religion and state - the balance between the constitutional elecemtns and the place of religion. In this tug-of-war, a compromise can be the only victory.

In light of their demographic growth, the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel have to attempt to become part of in the broader Israeli society.


Secular studies should be incorporated into the curriculum in ultra-Orthodox schools for boys, says Dr. Gilad Malach. It is vital to the future of Israeli economy and society and can be done without compromising Torah study.

Jewish solidarity is an existential imperative. As we mark the solemn day of Tisha B'Av, Dr. Friedman reflects on the importance of strengthening the common denominator among all Jewish communities. 


Strengthening the norms that are founded on our shared national traditions can help fortify our shared national identity - but any attempt to impose religious norms on a public when the majority does not identify with them will only lead to division and hate, says Yair Sheleg as we mark the mourning day of Tisha BÁv.

An unflattering US report on freedom of religion would have us believe that Israel is being run by an ayatollah-like regime. While some limits to freedom of religion exist, Israel is a free country

Could economic compensation provide a basis for promoting equality for all IDF soldiers and for the ultra-Orthodox sector as well?

Calls for applying "Torah Law"in Israel lay bare the the much larger problem posed by the substantial clash of the world of Halacha with two fundamental principles of the modern liberal world: individual freedom and equal rights

Despite the fact that the State of Israel and its central institutions are essentially secular and reflect a Zionist self-image, according to data from the 2016 Democracy Index only two-thirds (64%) of ultra-Orthodox Israelis report having a strong sense of belonging to the state. 

Many Israeli policies only influence Israeli citizens. But when it comes to questions of Jewish identity, every decision and every statement made reverberates throughout the Jewish world.

Will religion & state be at the center of the election campaign in Israel? Who benefits from putting this topic at the top of the agenda? And are we on the brink of a cultural war in Israel? TIP drills down with Prof. Yedidia Stern.

In today’s world of big data, it is easy to imagine what the impact would be of a single database containing information about their Jewishness—of Israelis and Jews around the world.

The rigid halakhic position might make conversion irrelevant as the integration of “non-Jewish Jews” into Israeli society will soon legitimize the sociological path to becoming a Jew, outside the bounds of religion, and make conversion superfluous.

Conversion is a central theme of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot when the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite – widely considered the first convert to Judaism – is traditionally read. In the spirit of the holiday, we decided to examine what types of relationships Jewish Israelis are ready to have with non-Jews. We also looked into what Jewish Israeli think about the topic of conversions in general and the conversion process in Israel in particular.

Is it conceivable, for example, that a legislative body would enact a tax that would never apply, to its own members?

What is Wrong with the National Civic Service program for the Ultra-Orthodox and How to Reform It?

Change will come only by engaging in an extended struggle over values, and by offering a true Jewish-democratic alternative in which both components are strong and complement one another


The proposed draft law perpetuates inequality  and is dangerous to Israel’s long term security. If drastic changes are not made to encourage the ultra-Orthodox to serve in the military, it may increase inequality among young people in Israel threaten the IDF as the people's army, in which the burden to serve in the military is shared

Among the many surprises of last week’s election was the impressive performance by the ultra-Orthodox parties – how can we explain this dizzying success?

Religious Zionism does not want to isolate itself, but rather to integrate.

The best estimate is that the religious and ultra-Orthodox will account for nearly a third (!) of the next Knesset. Should we be concerned that the Knesset is getting more religious?

The current Knesset undermined policies that promote the integration that is key to ultra-Orthodox well-being; the next Knesset has the capacity to reverse the trend


For many years the ultra-Orthodox were perceived as “captive voters” who would always comply with their rabbis’ instructions to cast their ballot for ultra-Orthodox parties. In today’s new reality such directives are no longer enough

Gilad Malach of the Israel Democracy Institute gives the latest electoral trends among Israel’s insular ultra-orthodox Jewish community. Why is a small community so divided, and why are growing numbers of ultra-Orthodox voters leaving the Haredi parties altogether?

The merger between the Jewish Home party and Otzma LeYisrael marks the end of an era. Since the founding of the State of Israel, the prominent Religious-Zionist parties have played a central role – yet they have now joined forces with the dangerous fringes on the extreme right

In a conversation with Fathom Deputy Editor Calev Ben-Dor, Malach discusses the recent changes that have taken place in ultra-Orthodox society, voting trends within the ‘sector’, and how the onset of technology is affecting voting patterns

The third out of six chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

The fourth out of six chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

The fifth out of six chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

Israel has had 12 prime ministers in its 70 years, but none provoked such fierce emotional debates as Netanyahu.

What is the secret behind the power of the ultra-Orthodox political parties in Israel and how has it changed over the years? The article presents an overview of the development of the ultra-Orthodox political parties in Israel from the establishment of the State as well as insights as to future developments.

“The great task before all — right and left, religious and secular, Jew and Arab — is to break down the veto power that the extremists among us wield over the center on various fronts”

As election season heats up, Tipping Point host Dr. Gilad Malach of the Israel Democracy Institute and Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer to understand how Haredi parties became kingmakers in Israeli politics, why recent polls show a decline in their power and whether there is a chance that Shas and United Torah Judaism will join forces in the current campaign.

Even though military service seems to be one of the most blatant threats to the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, it has become a rather attractive channel for broad segments of the community.

Israeli society—its marketplace of ideas, its democratic institutions, the rule of law, the components of national identity—is caught in the turbulent vortex of a kulturkampf—a “culture war”.

"If indeed a member of the Judicial Appointments Committee was swayed by bribes, this constitutes the deepest possible subversion of the system and its legitimacy".

More and more ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Israelis are enlisting in the IDF, driven by personal, financial, and professional motives, with military service seen as an “entrance ticket” to Israeli society and to the labor market. But military service also introduces them to the shared components of identity and citizenship linking them to the state and its values, and enabling them to identify with others, from outside their community.

Full separation of religion and state isn't possible, but why is the Chief Rabbinate in the kashrut business?

Dr. Gilad Malach, head of the ultra-Orthodox research program at the Israel Democracy Institute, discusses the findings of the 2018 statistical report on the ultra-Orthodox society in Israel


IDI’s 2018 report on ultra-Orthodox society is out - shedding light on changing trends in population, education, employment, and leisure in the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.

Israeli society is becoming increasingly polarized with each group holding a very different view of democracy and the State of Israel

How can we reverse the growing rift between Israel and diaspora Jewry? Both sides have their work cut out.

The truth is that the bill was designed to castrate expression and creativity, and induce self-censorship by artists and cultural institutions.

How despicable is a mob that calls for non-partisanship but is unwilling to listen to a voice that speaks for a majority of Israelis today?

In an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Shuki Friedman, Head of IDI's Center for Religion, Nation and State, explains how local government plays a critical role in balancing religion and state in day-to-day life in Israel.

A recent law stripped local authorities of the power to decide on allowing commercial activity on Shabbat and handed it over to the Minister of the Interior, a development which was met with public uproar. Would it not be better to leave these powers in the hands of the municipalities, which act according to the profile of their resident population? Dr. Shuki Friedman makes the case for leaving these decisions in the hands of the local authority.


Guaranteeing an independent Supreme Court. Integrating the Ultra-Orthodox into the IDF. Boosting participation of Arab women in the workforce. Improving the ease of doing business in Israel. These are some of the challenges facing IDI’s new cadre of program and center directors.

Tomorrow's elections will determine the local government in 251 cities, towns and municipalities. Of all the political parties represented at a national level in Israel, the ultra-Orthodox parties are the most successful in local government. What are the reasons behind this interesting trend? Read Dr. Gilad Malach's fascinating findings.

This article presents the main milestones in the recurring attempts to put a satisfactory arrangement for the deferment of military service for yeshiva students in place. In doing so, it surfaces the changes that have occurred over time in the constitutional, legal, and public responses and attitudes on this issue.

Shared responsibility, engraved in Jewish tradition, is one of the secrets of the State of Israel's success and the use of the plural form in confession reflects this perception.

We should simultaneously define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and at the same time---the state and home of all its citizens.

Do we really believe that our fate for the coming year is determined on this day?

A collective Israeli repentance will enable us all to pray together for our common good, even if the content of our prayers is a matter of fierce disagreement.

The Jewish calendar should guide our lives not only as individuals and a community, but also as a society and a state. If we want to preserve our identity as a distinct cultural and national group, we must make the effort to shape the cycle of time in our own way. 


Now is the time to rise above petty politics and pass a draft law that will uphold the principle of civic equality in Israel.


In the bill’s final wording, the state only commits itself to act within the Diaspora to strengthen the ties of Jewish peoplehood – as if actions taken inside the Jewish state, like the reneged-upon Western Wall compromise, have no bearing on the rest of the Jewish world.

Israel's secular elite has lost its enthusiasm for combat service and now targets intelligence units, such as Unit 8200.

 Yedidia Stern, speaks to hosts Dahlia Scheindlin and Gilad Halpern about the fundamental nature of Israeli society – and how it is changing. He expresses his fears about disturbing the balance of a Jewish and democratic state, as the nation-state law threatens to do. He believes that Israel must be a Jewish state, but without a legal anchor for equality, society is in trouble. He reflects on how religious life is being dominated by the ultra-orthodox; and diaspora Jews, especially Americans, should have a say in public life but not too much.

What message of Tisha B’Av is relevant for life in a sovereign state like Israel? Does the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel make the day of mourning for “the city that is in mourning, laid waste, despised and desolate” an anachronism?

Israel has evolved into an economic and military superpower; what must we mourn?

The Israel Democracy Institute issued a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the Nation State Billl, asserting that if the value of equality is not anchored in the legislation alongside the other enumerated national characteristics of the state, the law may eventually erode Israel's democratic character

IDI puts forth analysis of why the proposed conscription plan for the ultra-Orthodox is problematic and offers an alternative approach

Leading public figures avoid dealing with issues that are of national importance when it entails confronting the ultra-Orthodox community.

Yohanan Plesner discusses with Tipping Point the "People's Army". Can a compromise be reached and is "sharing the burden" of military service a realistic goal? 

Though many ultra-Orthodox politicians expressed outrage at the original publishing of this new bill, some view the proposal as a double achievement.

Step by step, the Chief Rabbinate is turning itself into the central source of halakhic legitimacy not just within Israel’s borders but beyond them, and becoming a global force through securing its power all over the Jewish world.

More than 25 years ago, the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” affirmed that Israel is a “Jewish” and “democratic” state but did not define either of these terms in the Israeli context. Now is the time for us to turn to the Jewish identity that has been adopted by a large portion of Israel’s Jews and allow it to shape the country’s Jewish character.

The Minister of Finance has invested tremendous resources in meeting the needs of the Israeli middle class. However, even with these efforts, the minister has failed to address the ultra-Orthodox’s needs — a mistake that has contributed to an acute housing crisis for this sector of Israeli society.

On the practical side, religious conversion hasn’t ‘delivered the goods’ so far. Although it has been officially declared a national mission, less than 10 percent of non-Jewish immigrants and their offspring have completed the process. As a result, one in 20 non-Arab Israelis isn’t recognized as a Jew, despite having made aliyah under the Law of Return.

Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institution said that the proposed conversion law is an important step. The state must take responsibility and resolve the issues that affect so many lives

The government’s conduct and the public’s indifference have far-reaching implications – and not only from a utilitarian perspective. Diaspora Jewry’s economic, political and cultural contributions to the State of Israel are no longer guaranteed, but above all, the unity of the Jewish people around the globe as one nation is under threat

A new book from the Israel Democracy Institute
exposes the failures of the State conversion system over three decades

 The proposed amendment which will strip the Supreme Court of the power to invalidate legislation (“the British model”), or alternatively, would allow the Knesset, by a vote of 61 of its members to reinstate a law that the court has struck down (“the override clause”) pose a grave threat to every single Israeli citizen. 

The fifth out of five chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

Israel is a success story on many levels — social, economic, scientific, and in terms of protecting its security. Nevertheless, many of its citizens see the country as treading water. What is the source of this dissonance?


The Democracy Pavilion, a unique multi-media experience, in full 360 degree technology, showcasing the values embedded in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, is open to the public.

No matter when they take place, the upcoming elections will have a decisive impact on the identity of the state if decision-makers and the general public continue to follow the ultra-Orthodox lead

Rabbis outside the Reform and Conservative movements rarely deal with Jewish-values issues such as the asylum seekers and treatment of the Palestinians

Thought leaders recommend an ‘all in the family’ perspective when it comes to challenges between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.


The nation state law is the "identity law" of the state, and this will have a revolutionary significance, since democracy is not mentioned in it.

“The campaign to remake the Supreme Court has been completed” said Justice Minister Shaked - so now with its new and more conservative profile, there is no longer any justification for the delegitimization of the Supreme Court.

The first out of five chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

The second out of five chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

The third out of five chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

Powerful forces are pushing against the rule of law, attempting to derail it. From the perspective of those who wish to preserve the rule of law, we are living in a Greek tragedy whose dreadful outcome is foreknown. 

Ultra-Orthodox society is moving toward a more Israeli, more modern future, while also maintaining its unique characteristics. 

For the first time since 2013- a decline in the number of ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce

For decades, religious and ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset, backed and encouraged by their rabbis, have worked to inject the secular state with as much Judaism as possible. Over the course of 70 years, the results of this ongoing effort have been minimal, but the price paid by Judaism has been great.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Dickens’s words seem a highly apt way of describing the current state of the Jewish people, and the relationship between the two largest Jewish communities in the world – those in Israel and the United States.

Prof. Yedidia Stern: "These rabbis, who loudly extol the virtues of Jewish statehood, do not hesitate to drag the people’s army into the arena of conflict with their irresponsible statements."

For the ultra-Orthodox sector and for us as a society, justice is not charity.

Stereotypes—both positive and negative—are an obstacle to the development of a genuine partnership between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society. The Haredim are Israel's biggest sociological mystery. We must learn the facts rather than engaging in speculation. 

Are women leading the change in ultra-Orthodox society or are they preserving their unique way of life? Learn more about the tension between the possibilities that the modern world offers ultra-Orthodox women and the many complex challenges facing them. 

Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research published today the 2017 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel. The report presents trends in population, education, employment, and leisure in the ultra-Orthodox sector in Israel.

The general picture produced by the Democracy Index is of a manic-depressive society – is this the beginning of a transition from a turbulent and confused adolescence into a quiet and steady adulthood?

At approximately eight million people, diaspora Jewry comprises the fifth tribe of Israel. The Knesset is currently debating a proposal, which among other things addresses the connection with Diaspora Jewry entitled “Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People”.

On the link between ‘who’ and ‘what’ in Judicial rulings

For many American Jews, identification with the State of Israel is a significant component of their Jewish identity.


A state that is proud of its identity has nothing to fear from granting all its citizens equality.

Israelis must unite around a balanced arrangement that asserts that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people that guarantees equality for all its citizens.

How both faiths can use their common threads and customs as a means to connect, dialogue and cooperate.

With 50% of young Haredi men expected to enter the labor market actually those with poorer skills and abilities, there is an urgent need for an in-depth rethinking about Haredi education. 

Is our country and society doomed to continually follow the same path of repeated crisis, or has the time finally come for us to plot a new course?

A country that comes to a standstill for one whole day and doesn’t derive anything significant from it is missing the point.

To encourage enlistment, Israel should adopt a conscription model that is cognizant of the ultra-Orthodox fear of erosion of their identity and employs both positive and negative economic incentives.

The implications of the Supreme Court's ruling go far beyond the Kashrut market.

IDI responds to high court ruling: “The time has come for our politicians to demonstrate leadership and work to enact a more equitable and effective arrangement.”

Army service is an extremely powerful “employment engine” for most ultra-Orthodox men whose religious education does not provide them with the general background or professional training necessary for joining the work force outside the ultra-Orthodox sector.


The State of Israel needs to come up with appropriate living solutions for the ultra-Orthodox, whose numbers are expected to increase significantly.  

The whole world must be the arena of the war against antisemitism and the Jewish nation-state must serve as the supreme commander in this universal conflict.

Instead of Judaism being what unites Jews in Israel with Jews around the world, our religion has become the main source of conflict.

In an op-ed first published by The Forward, IDI's president calls on Israeli leaders to empower Diaspora Jews in the crucial debate on identity and faith.

The recent challenges at the Kotel are but a symptom of an ever-increasing problem.

Prof. Yedidia Stern argues that our Jewish identity and culture depend on how we understand and internalize the past.

In 2017, we have to ask: Who is ultra-Orthodox? What are the boundaries of ultra-Orthodox society? What are the boundaries of ultra-Orthodox identity within the Israeli sphere?

Israel's very legitimacy as a Jewish state is under attack.

Ahead of Israel Independence Day: If we are willing to turn down the volume of the extreme voices and listen instead to the mainstream representatives in each of Israel's sectors, we will find cause for optimism about the shared Israeli future.

As a second generation Holocaust survivor, Dr. Shuki Friedman says that, "beyond the responsibility of building our own lives and the state, there is also a personal responsibility not only to remember, but to pass on remembrance to the next generation."


The truly great task is to push ourselves to be accountable, personally and nationally, to the question of purpose.

The Exodus from Egypt is what brought Israelites their freedom and made them into a nation.

Leaving issues of religion and state to an ultra-Orthodox monopoly is leading to estrangement between Israel and the Diaspora. New arrangements must be reached.

Haredim and Arabs must be integrated into society and economy to take the start-up nation to the next level.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that a company is permitted to terminate its worker for wearing religious dress is a sad demonstration of the words of Ecclesiastes: “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”

It is almost certain that readers of this article will not recognize the name of this man, the terrorist who caused more damage to Israel’s security than any other attacker in recent years. His name is Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, 21, from Hebron.

New statistics shed light on a population that was once hidden behind "walls of holiness." Today, those walls are beginning to break.

The four new Judicial Appointments Committee selections to the Supreme Court last month have led to the usual partisan responses, breaking down along the lines of “winners” and “losers.” Despondent claims of an “anti-constitutional revolution” are being made simultaneously with celebratory assertions of “making history.” The facts, however, are quite different.

Yedidia Stern examines the tension between religion and state in Israel by exploring several key areas of dispute in Jewish Israeli society and politics. This paper was first published by Brookings.

Yair Ettinger discerns between different streams of Religious-Zionist Jews in Israeli society, and analyzes how these schisms play out in the socio-political arena. This piece was originally published by Brookings.


Religious Zionism is based on a nationalistic, even hawkish, position on foreign affairs. Such an ethos, especially in the Middle East, thus demands a great willingness to sacrifice. However, this desire to serve the greater good can only be maintained over time if a sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility unites the members of Israeli society.

Judaism is no longer intimately and inexorably linked to religious observance. 

The fourth out of five chapters of the Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

While Europeans are trying to maintain their sense of ownership over the public sphere, restrictions on religious expression in the public domain strike at Muslims’ most basic of rights: to continue living their lives as guided by the dictates of their own conscience. Will there be a religious-based civil war? This article was first published by the Independent Journal Review.

The upcoming High Holidays are an opportunity to expand our perception beyond our selves and communities. This article was first published by the New York Jewish Week.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is an opportunity to stop and ponder how much we love to forget or forget to love. This article was originally published by the Jewish Journal

It is time for all of us to rethink the desired character of the Israeli Shabbat. This article was originally published by Times of Israel.

Although one need not agree with the positions held by Israel’s Arab citizens, it can’t be denied that they constitute an independent, moderate voice – and a promising political middle ground on the Palestine- Israeli conflict. This article first appeared in The Jerusalem Post.

The expected election of Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States will affect Israel in a great number of ways, but one of them is rather different and unexpected: Her election will certainly influence the question of religion and state. This op-ed was first published by Haaretz.

IDI's Shuki Friedman laments the existence of separate education systems for each sector of Israel's population, which reinforce, rather than bridge societal divides. This op-ed first appeared on Times of Israel.

The Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, as tradition has it, because of groundless hatred between Jews. IDI's Yedidia Stern takes this opportunity on Tisha B'Av to reflect on the current culture war in Israel, and urge citizens to focus on the covenant of destiny that binds us, rather than the divisions between us.

Israel needs to abandon the vindictive approach of trying to reform ultra-Orthodox society through force and budget cuts, and rather start investing heavily in education and job creation in the ultra-Orthodox sector. This op-ed was first published in the New York Jewish Week.

The inflammatory statements made about Reform Judaism at the recent First Zion and Jerusalem Conference are not merely old rhetoric, but rather a national ultra-Orthodox (Hardal) declaration of a holy war against the spread of pluralistic Judaism in Israel.

The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by

No aspect of the current Western Wall plaza arrangement, in which the Orthodox maintain a monopoly, will change if other denominations are allowed to pray at the foot of the Temple Mount in a new plaza. This article was first published by The Jerusalem Post.

Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. These two characteristics are critical to the country’s existence. This article originally appeared on

What does Shabbat and its observance look like in the State of Israel? Can every individual enjoy this day of rest in the way he/she chooses? Are there actually individuals who are forced to give up Shabbat as a result of a lack of choice or economic coercion? IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman explains in this article which originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy.

What do the two candidates for the American presidency — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have in common? Almost nothing at all — except that their children are married to Jews. This op-ed by Yedidia Stern originally appeared in the Jewish Journal. 

The Jewish people have been debating questions of Jewish identity and the definition of "who is a Jew" for thousands of years. While this debate has worn different faces and taken on different shapes at different times, it is a debate that has weighed on all sects and sectors of Jewish society. However, with the formation of the State of Israel, and especially over recent years, there is a palpable feeling that there are two nations caring out separate and different discussions. One lives and operates out of Israel; the other is overseas. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jewish Week.

The transition between Passover and Israel’s Independence Day is a symbolic transition from a holiday that centers on Godly miracles to a holiday that centers on human actions. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize conversions performed by private Orthodox rabbinical courts in Israel is nothing less than a historic drama. The immediate significance is the loss of the Chief Rabbinate’s Orthodox monopoly over conversions, but it’s also a milestone in the privatization of religious services on the road to the Chief Rabbinate’s loss of relevance. Originally published by Haaretz.

There is a necessary condition that must be fulfilled for the existence of our nation-state to be justified: there must be an unconditional guarantee of civic equality for our national minorities. In this area, there is still much to be done.

In an op-ed first published by The Jerusalem Report, Prof. Yedidia Stern says this intifada of knives has left Israel in a twilight zone. It is not a time of war, in which the army is permitted to use arms more freely. But nor is it a time of peace in which any use of arms is seen as most irregular. Sharp differences of opinion between the public and the army could lead to a crisis in public confidence in the military high command. There is a crying need for responsible leadership.

Earlier this month, change snuck in through the back door of Israel's court system when Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox judge was appointed. This article was first published by the Jewish Press.

IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern says, "There is no way to justify this ultra-Orthodox sectarianism, as it prevents others from having the freedom to exercise their religion at public facilities. Allowing ritual baths to be monopolized by the Rabbinate would cause grave harm without any commensurate benefit."

This article was first published by Times of Israel.

The desired result could have been achieved quietly and efficiently had the Knesset adopted a rational arrangement that would encourage military service through positive and negative economic incentives. (This article was originally published in the Jewish Journal of LA.)

According to Dr. Shuki Friedman, the rabbinate's failure to provide adequate religious services caused the current trend towards privatization of religious services, which is creating a de-facto separation between religion and the state.

Professor Yedidia Stern argues that the question of how we should relate to the Temple Mount is more complex than any other issue on the public agenda in Israel. This question must be discussed in three parallel dimensions—religious, national, and liberal. This poses a serious challenge, which must be approached with the utmost sensitivity.

To what extent should the Rabbinate interfere in a citizen's plate? Dr. Shuki Friedman, argues that kosher supervision should be based on trust not coercion, and warns that the attempt to preserve the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on the kosher laws is a symptom of a larger problem.

Ten years after the disengagement from Gaza, Yair Sheleg, head of IDI's Religion and State program, explores the impact of the withdrawal from Gush Katif under the leadership of Ariel Sharon on the Religious Zionist community in Israel. 

Dr. Gilad Malach, who heads IDI's research program on the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, discusses the barriers that weigh down attempts to increase the employment rate in the Haredi community and suggests possible solutions.