religious-secular relations

Publications Regarding religious-secular relations

Articles

Op-ed

DNA Tests for Jewishness

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.

Op-ed

Too Much Religion in the Knesset?

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?

Op-ed

Integrating the Ultra-Orthodox

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

Op-ed

When the Government Provides Religious Services

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

Press Release

Kashrut Supervision Services Bill

IDI is calling to amend the Kashrut Supervision Bill, so that instead of creating an additional layer of intermediaries, the market will be open, transparent and regulated by Rabbinate authorized rabbis.

Op-ed

Beit Shemesh and Tel Aviv

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?

Op-ed

Faith and the City

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.

Article

Shabbat in the City

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.

 

Article

Women’s Service in the IDF: Between a ‘People’s Army’ and Gender Equality

Over the years and especially in recent decades, the concept of gender equality has also become relevant to the discussion of military service, and more and more roles have been opened up to women serving in the IDF. Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman presents an overview of 70 years of women in the IDF.

Article

Israel-Diaspora Rift Isn’t As Bad As You Think

The rift between the Israeli Jewish community (as opposed to the Israeli government) and the U.S. Jewish community is not as deep as it is portrayed in the media.

Op-ed

Israel Is Repeating The Mistakes That Led To The Temple’s Destruction

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?

Podcast

A Kosher Military

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? 

Press Release

Calling on Our Leaders to Lead

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

Article

Jews Worldwide Must Resist The Power Grab Of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate

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.

Article

Israelis Are More Traditional Than You Think

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.

Press Release

Proposed Draft Bill Puts the “People's Army” at Risk

Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute cautions that the Ministry of Defense’s proposed draft bill “endangers IDF’s model of service as a “People's Army” based on the principle of mandatory service for all

Article

It is up to chief rabbis to preserve us as one people

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.

Press Release

Preserving the Rabbinate’s monopoly over the kashrut market: the consumer will be the one to pay

The Israel Democracy Institute on the Ministry of Finance and Rabbinate's decision to preserve the Rabbinate’s monopoly over the kashrut market in Israel: the consumer will be the one to pay 

Press Release

Rabbinate’s criteria to recognize of rabbinical courts abroad - problematic

IDI on the Rabbinate’s publication on the recognition of rabbinical courts abroad: "A potential strategic blow to Israel’s connection with Diaspora Jewry and a serious operative problem for many Jews in Israel"

Press Release

The Failures of the State Conversion System

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

Press Release

The End of the "Great Rabbis" (Gdolim) Era

Featuring two book launches: “Haredim A Guide to their Beliefs and Sectors” and “A Flock with No Shepherd: Shas Leadership the Day after Rabbi Ovadia Yosef”

Op-ed

Integrating Women into Politics: Another Solution

The absolute exclusion of women from ultra-Orthodox parties keeps their specific interests from being addressed effectively in the public sphere.

The Orthodox Are No Longer Repairing the World

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

Press Release

How Many Israelis Keep Kosher for Passover?

A special update from the Peace Index by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute shows that that two-thirds of the Jews in Israel eat kosher for Passover outside the home and prepare the their house for the holiday - but 58% oppose the ban on cafes and restaurants from serving chametz (bread).

 

Article

Most want minimarkets, public transport on Shabbat

Large majorities of the Jewish public support allowing minimarkets to open and the operation of public transport on Shabbat, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute has found.

 

Op-ed

How Much Should Jewish Law Control the Jewish State?

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.

Op-ed

Who are the ultra-Orthodox?

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. 

Press Release

Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel

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.

Op-ed

To those Who are Making Decisions about the Future of the Jewish State:

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.

Press Release

New IDI Study Calls for Breaking Up the Religious Councils

Study results: Grave failures in the functioning of the councils and in the religious services they provide

Op-ed

A Threat to the Foundations of Jewish Peoplehood

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.

Op-ed

Rosh Hashanah Resolution

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.

Op-ed

The ‘Religionization’ of Israel is Troubling, but the Fears About it are Hysterical

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

Statement by IDI President Yohanan Plesner on the Advancement of the Mikveh Bill

Following today's advancement of the Mikveh Bill by the Knesset Plenum, IDI President Yohanan Plesner said, "The Mikveh Bill is not worthy of being included in the laws of Israel."

Op-ed

The Mikveh Bill: When My Purity Means Your Impurity

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.

Op-ed

The Haredi Draft: Snakes and Ladders

Prof. Yedidia Stern analyzes the problems with past proposals to integrate the ultra-Orthodox sector into the IDF, and proposes a new solution.

Op-ed

Is There a Place for God in the Israeli Army?

In an article in the <em>Jewish Week</em>, IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern discusses the question of whether it is appropriate for commanders to use religious rhetoric in motivating their soldiers, and stresses the need for the Israeli army to represent all.

Op-ed

When November 4th Meets the 12th of Heshvan

Rabbi Yitzhak Ben David shares thoughts on the alignment of the Memorial Day for Yitzhak Rabin on the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, which challenges us to find a renewed reconciliation between Israeli democracy and Jewish civilization. 

Op-ed

Shmita: Rest, Share, Release

An exploration of the existential, social, and economic dimensions of the Shmita year, that calls for bringing together social, moral, cultural, religious and national forces to implement the idea of Shmita in non-agricultural and national contexts in Israel.

Op-ed

The IDF: Army of the People or Army of God?

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer addresses the question of the appropriateness of the letter that Givati Brigade commander Col.Ofer Winter sent to his subordinate officers as Israel prepared for the ground incursion in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

Op-ed

On Intermarriage, Judaism, and Democracy in Israel

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Lau shares thoughts on the tension between Judaism and democracy, in response to the public protests against the marriage of a Jewish woman who converted to Islam and an Israeli Arab. 

Op-ed

Ultra-Orthodox Integration: It Takes Two to Tango

In an op-ed in Ynet News, IDI researcher Dr. Haim Zicherman discusses the steps that Israeli society must take in order to enable ultra-Orthodox men to integrate into the Israeli army and workforce.

Op-ed

The IDF and the Ultra-Orthodox

As the Knesset prepares to vote on the "Draft Law" designed to regulate the service of ultra-Orthodox men in the Israel Defense Forces, Dr. Haim Zicherman surveys the current situation within Israel's Haredi community.

Op-ed

Is "Israeli" a Nationality?

Should the State of Israel recognize "Israeli" as a nationality? IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern and Jay Ruderman assert that it is imperative for the State of Israel to continue distinguishing between citizenship and nationality. 

Op-ed

An Unequal Share of the Burden? The Truth about the Hesder Yeshivot

Do students in the religious Zionist hesder yeshivot really contribute less to the IDF than other men who serve? IDI Researcher Dr. Benny Porat does the math and comes to an interesting conclusion.

Op-ed

The Haredi Draft: Is the Shaked Committee's Bill Destined to be Overturned?

As the Shaked Committee begins to vote on its proposal for the Haredi draft, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern warns that the proposal's recommendation to exempt Haredi men of draft age during a three-year "adjustment period" is both inequitable and ineffective. 

Policy Statement

Civil Unions for All

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz explains why IDI's proposal for civil unions, which was first presented in his IDI policy paper The Spousal Registry, is the best solution possible today for alleviating the distress of couples who cannot or do not want to marry in a religious ceremony in Israel.

Op-ed

The Haredi Draft: Equality Now?!

On November 21 2013, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern appeared before the Shaked Committee and argued that criminal sanctions are not recommended for reaching conscription goals. In an op-ed in Makor Rishon, he explains why.

Op-ed

On the Need for Civil Unions in Israel

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau expresses support for the proposed civil union bill, which would allow couples who do not want to marry in a religious service to form a legally recognized union and be eligible for the benefits and responsibilities associated with marriage.

Op-ed

Civil Unions in Israel as a Democratic Compromise

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, author of an IDI policy paper proposing a spousal registry as a framework for civil unions in Israel, welcomes the reintroduction of this issue to the public agenda but expresses some concern about the formulation of the current bill.

Op-ed

No to the Separation of Religion and State in Israel

Should the American model of separation of church and state be applied to Israel? In an article in <em>The Jewish Week</em>, IDI's Yair Sheleg argues that Israel needs a unique model.

Op-ed

The High Holidays: A Personal and National Time

Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern shares thoughts on the Hebrew calendar, which contributes to Jewish unity and preserves the Jewish people as a single national and cultural unit.  

Op-ed

How Can We Draft the Ultra-Orthodox with Consent?

Is it possible to draft the ultra-Orthodox and integrate them into Israel's society and economy in a mutually-agreeable manner that encourages solidarity between the different sectors of the Jewish people? Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern shares thoughts on wars between brothers and brothers-in-arms.

Op-ed

The Ultra-Orthodox Draft: Crossing the Third Rubicon

Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern and Attorney Haim Zicherman stress the need to break down barriers that are preventing Haredi service in the army and integration in the labor force, and warn against passing a popular but ill-advised reform. 

Op-ed

Haredi Integration: Not by Re-Education

IDI researcher Attorney Haim Zicherman warns against attempts to integrate ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army by encouraging them to abandon their lifestyle, and calls for developing mechanisms that will accept and respect their values. 

Op-ed

The Ultra-Orthodox Draft: A Test of the New Israeli Politics

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern warns that the hasty passage of the proposed government bill on the Haredi draft would be "old politics," and stresses the importance of a Knesset debate to arrive at balanced legislation that is in line with the national interest. 

Article

Mass Transport on Shabbat and the Conflict between Religion and State

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern sets the  controversy over mass transportation on Shabbat and holidays in Israel in a broader context, and distinguished between the need for an Israeli-Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) rather than a religious Shabbat.

Op-ed

Finding Middle Ground

In an op-ed in Israel Hayom, IDI researcher Adv. Haim Zicherman argues that a temporary extension of the Tal Law would help the growing trend of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF and would enable volunteering for civilian service to continue.

Op-ed

The Exclusion of Women from the Public Sphere

Israeli society has seen a recent push to exclude women from the public sphere. In this blog entry, translated from the Hebrew, IDI Senior Researcher Yair Sheleg, argues against the recent turn toward extremism, calling on Israelis from all camps to respond to these developments responsibly.

Op-ed

Faking Feminism

The issue of the exclusion of women and their marginalization in Israeli society has dominated the media in Israel during the past few weeks. In this article, which was originally published in The Seventh Eye on December 25, 2011, Dr. Debora Lederman-Danieli argues that the media's struggle against the phenomenon of the degradation of women requires much more than disingenuous, populist outcries.

Op-ed

The Exclusion of Women and Control of the Public Sphere

Why is the marginalization of women in Israeli society and their exclusion from the public sphere on the rise in Israeli society? In this op-ed, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern focuses on the religious Zionist community and the power struggle to determine who will control the public sphere and the space of the religious community.

Op-ed

A Tragedy of Errors

In an op-ed originally published in Haaretz on June 18, 2010, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the dramatic events in the city of Immanuel, warns secular society about the growing demonization of the Haredi community, and urges the Haredi community to have greater faith in the courts—the ultimate protectors of the rights of minorities.

Op-ed

Decade in Review: Religion and State in Israel

IDI Research Fellow Mr. Yair Sheleg highlights growing individualism within both the religious and secular Jewish populations in Israel and takes note of growing rifts between the two communities, in an article that was published at the end of the third millennium as part of a collaboration between IDI and Walla!, a popular Israeli website.

Article

From a Shabbat of Work to a Shabbat of Rest

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern discusses the innovative Sabbath Law proposed by IDI. This proposed legislation seeks to a unique Israeli character in the public sphere on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, in a way which does not force religion on the public. 

Op-ed

The Spousal Registry: Prof. Shahar Lifshitz Explains his Proposal

The regulation of marriage and divorce in Israel is perceived by many as the main obstacle in attaining a constitution for Israel. Can the Spousal Registry Law help solve the discrepancies that subsequently arise? Dr. Shahar Lifshitz, author of a new Policy Paper on the topic, gives us his personal view.

Op-ed

Conversion: Joining a Religion or Joining a Nation?

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.

Op-ed

Two Democracies for Two Peoples

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

Op-ed

Is the Chief Rabbinate's Monopoly on Kashrut Over?

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

Play
Op-ed

Where Will the Ultra-Orthodox Community Live in 2040?

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

Article

New IDI Survey: 46% of Religious Israelis Support a Change to the Religious Status Quo

A special IDI survey shows that 70% of secular Israelis believe that in recent years life in the public sphere has tended to favor the ultra-Orthodox and religious; over one-third of religious Israelis and 80% of people who define themselves as not religious but traditional either support the separation of religion from state or reducing religious influence on life in Israel.

Books