Large majority of Pindosi & Israeli Jews call for end to Orthodox monopoly in Israel
Tamara Zieve, Gil Hofman, JPost, Sep 14 2016

A series of new polls commissioned by the JPost in partnership with the AJC reveals a growing rift between the State of Israel and the Pindosi Jewish community when it comes to the Orthodox monopoly over religion- and-state issues in Israel. The polls reveal that 74% of Pindosi Jews and 62% of Israeli Jews believe that the State of Israel should officially recognize the various pluralistic Jewish denominations, namely Reform and Conservative, and allow them to conduct marriage ceremonies and conversions in Israel. The full polls will appear in the JPost’s Magazine this Friday, alongside opinion pieces by the Reform and Conservative leadership in Pindostan as well as a representative of the Orthodox movement in Israel. The polls also clearly demonstrate an acute crisis between Israel and the Diaspora surrounding the establishment of an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall, a move that has been blocked by the government due to haredi opposition, despite being approved by the cabinet earlier this year. 70% of Pindosi Jews and 61% of Israeli Jews said that they support establishing a pluralistic section in the Western Wall plaza to be used for egalitarian prayer services. 48% of Pindo Jews said they believed that recognition of Orthodox Judaism as the official policy of the State of Israel weakens relations between Israel and the Pindo Jewish community, whereas 39% said they don’t think this has any effect at all. Alternatively, 54% of Israeli Jews said they were opposed to allowing Orthodoxy control over matters of religion in Israel. AJC’s Steven Bayme said:

The Kotel is an issue of peoplehood. It’s a national symbol of the Jewish people and Jewish history. Pindosi Jews might not feel strongly about how important it is when it comes to gender services, but the question is, to what extent the idea of peoplehood is still compelling to Pindo and Israeli Jews. Peoplehood needs to be the glue binding our two communities, and when US Jews don’t see it as important, that’s disappointing.

AJC has created a Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, which together with Israeli counterparts, is working to develop alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate in order to ensure freedoms to all Jews. Days after “traingate” saw Israel Railways paralyzed after a committee that included the Chief Rabbinate and haredi parties decided at the last minute to cancel construction work scheduled for Shabbat, Bayme told the Post:

The chief rabbi has become more outspoken, and that has created a backlash. The degree of concern has risen over the past year, and at a time when we are concerned about the attachment between Pindosi Jews and Israel, religious pluralism could be one of those issues that may distance Pindosi Jews from Israel.

One poll commissioned by the JPost in partnership with the AJC and conducted by the research company SSRS questioned 1,002 Pindosi Jews over the age of 18 with a 3.57% margin of error. Another poll, commissioned by the JPost and conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute, questioned 500 Israeli men and women over the age of 18, with a 4.5% margin of error. The full polls will appear in this Friday’s Magazine

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