Some 65 percent of Israeli Jews do not celebrate Jerusalem Day, which marks the city’s reunification 40 years ago, while 35 percent celebrate the event, a poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher organization revealed.
The poll was carried out among 500 respondents who constitute a representative sample of the adult Jewish Hebrew-speaking population in Israel.
According to the poll, most religious Zionists (67 percent) celebrate Jerusalem Day, compared to only 23 percent of non-religious Israelis, 24 percent of haredim and 63 percent of observant Jews.
The frequency of visits to Jerusalem has been a cause for concern for many education ministers in recent years. The poll tried to determine whether this was really a problem.
Seventy percent of the respondents said that they visited the Old City and the Western Wall at least once during the last two years, and 49 percent said that they had been there several times in the last year alone.
Western Wall still attracts Israelis (Photo: Yaron Peled)
The affinity to these sites was more prominent among strictly Orthodox and religious Israelis, 85 percent and 81 percent of which (respectively) said they had visited the Old City and the Western Wall several times in the last year, compared to 38 percent of secular Israelis.
The participants in the poll were also asked which title best describes Jerusalem. Fifty-one percent chose to call it, “The Holy City,” while 36 percent preferred, “the Capital of Israel.”
The secular respondents were the only ones who preferred to describe the city as the capital (48 percent versus 35 percent who opted for “Holy City”), while the haredim (95 percent), religious Israelis (75 percent) and even observant Israelis (55 percent), chose to emphasize the city’s holiness.
Although many Israelis often complain about Jerusalem’s shortcomings when it comes to culture and entertainment venues, 48 percent of the poll’s respondents said that the city was “perfect” and lacked nothing.
Will a beach make Jerusalem perfect? (Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik)
However, 24 percent said that they would like Jerusalem to have its own beach, and 10 percent said that the capital is missing a national theater. Three percent suggested that the Azrieli Towers should be moved to Jerusalem.
Gesher’s Director Shoshi Becker said that “the poll’s findings certainly point to the educational need for strengthening the significance of Jerusalem Day among all sectors of the population, and encouraging people to celebrate it in ways that increase the affinity to this day and its objectives.”
Becker said she believed that the state was not doing enough to mark Jerusalem’s reunification and the special historic link of the Jewish people to the city. She claimed that the state should promote events and national symbols to mark Jerusalem Day throughout the country and in all sectors.