2023 Israel Religion and State Index – What do Israeli Jews Really Think?

The tension between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews is one of the most significant internal conflicts in Israel, in the opinion of the Jewish public

73% of the Jewish public oppose to ''coalition funds''73% of the Jewish public oppose to ''coalition funds''

We are proud to share the abridged English translation of our annual Israel Religion & State Index with you. This is the 15th annual Index published by Hiddush, since the organization’s inception in 2009. The Index is the only systematic and in-depth periodic review of Israel’s adult Jewish public’s attitudes on matters of religion and state. Its findings present a comprehensive picture of the public’s positions regarding the controversies which lie at the heart of these issues. They enable you to follow the development of the public’s views over time, according to a variety of societal, political, and religious breakdowns. We are grateful to the Stanley and Marion Bergman Family Foundation for making this important survey and publication possible.

One may ask why is this survey of importance now, in the midst of the war, and further: do Israelis really care about the conflict of religion and state?

The answer is simple, and important to share with our overseas partners and readers. As much as the war and the hostages occupy our minds and hearts, Israeli public is also engaging in may other concerns, among them are the many manifestations of the religion/state conflict. Some are actually enhanced as a result of the war, such as the explosive conflict over enlisting Haredi young men to  


A majority of respondents oppose the approval of the budget with it’s hefty funding allotments for the ultra-Orthodox sector



the IDF or national-service. As you can imagine, the recent statement by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi that “if forced to serve in the army, we will all leave the country” and the subsequent endorsement of his declaration by other leaders of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox sectors further stoked the public flames [see below the findings of our follow up survey which confirms the findings of the Index].

Similarly explosive was the public controversy over the Israeli “pork barrels” – the multi billion shekel allocations made to ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and schools as well as hundreds of million in state funds to the religious parties to spend on Orthodox religious indoctrination of the secular public (see our previous newsletter).

As to the question of “Do Israelis really care about these issues?” seventy percent of the adult Jewish public view as acute the tension between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews.

This represents an increase of 10% in comparison with last year's findings.

The tension between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews, and between the political right and the left, are the most significant internal conflicts in Israel, in the opinion of the adult Jewish public, far more than other internal tensions that tore Israeli society apart in the past. 

Acuteness of tensionsAcuteness of tensions

The Knesset just approved the State budget for 2024. In addition to the unequivocal findings of the Index, we ran a complementary poll by the Smith Research Institute: 73% of the adult Jewish public oppose the "coalition funds" as part of the 2024 budget. The poll shows that 93% of the secular public are opposed, as are 67% of Likud voters and approximately half of Religious Zionists and Otzma Yehudit voters.

A majority of respondents, across the political spectrum, from right to left, oppose the approval of the budget with it’s hefty funding allotments for the ultra-Orthodox sector and religious indoctrination. The public’s opposition to the hijacking of the public coffers for the purpose of bribing the religious parties to get their support is consistent and long-standing. This time it is further exacerbated due to the unique and painful reality of the October 7th war and the confrontation with Hezbollah.

We are engaged in legal advocacy to put a stop to the coalition funds [see above], and to wake up the public, to demand that their elected representatives commit to stop the blackmail of the ultra-Orthodox parties. We have no doubt that this issue will affect the results of the next elections and bring us closer to realizing the assurances of the Declaration of Independence and strengthening the values of democracy.

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