For years, Jews were persuaded to come to Israel with the assurance that here they could find a kosher Jewish mate. That promise is not as certain as it used to be. Ten percent of married couples in Israel are not of the same faith, a new study reveals.
The survey was conducted for New Family, an organization dedicated to advancing family rights.
The waves of immigration from the former Soviet Union brought an estimated 250,000 immigrants defined as non-Jews to Israel. A large number of immigrants from Ethiopia are also not Jewish.
The Israeli Chief Rabbinate does not consent to intermarriages. Nonetheless they are taking place en masse through other means. However, as there is no organized marriage registration outside the Rabbinate, it is difficult to estimate the number of these mixed couples.
The data was gathered from the number of divorces filed, offering an estimate of the number of married couples. The study showed that the number of divorces filed for this population is on the increase, currently 17 percent of all divorces in Israel.
According to New Family, 58 percent of Israeli families have both a father and a mother who are Jewish. Twelve percent are not Jewish, 10 percent are interfaith marriages and the rest are single-parent families, unwed couples, couples who married in a civil service, foreign workers and same-sex couples.
Fifty-seven percent of intermarried couples in Israel said that they follow the Jewish tradition compared to only 33 percent of like couples in the US.
The survey also examined the Israeli stance on mixed marriages. It found that 60 percent of Israelis oppose these marriages. Seventeen percent said that they are not against such marriages in general but would object to one of their children marrying out.
When asked what background they would prefer the partner to be if their child were to marry someone who is not Jewish, 39 percent answered that they would prefer him/her to be Caucasian, only two percent would prefer an Asian or African son or daughter in law and 34 percent would object in any case.
Irit Rosenblum, Advocate, chairperson of New Family says that the State of Israel refuses to offer a solution to non-Jew Israelis who want to marry Jewish partners forcing them to travel abroad to receive what they should be entitled to. "The fact that there is no official marriage registration causes a violation of the civil rights of these citizens," said Rosenblum.