Orthodox Israelis: Separate but equal?
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Becker. 'Virtual community'
Photo: Motti Hakshur
Poll: 51% of Israelis want separate secular, religious neighborhoods
Gesher-Ynet survey shows majority of Israeli public feels religious, secular Jews ought to live separately, with only a third of Israelis endorsing ‘mixed’ neighborhoods

Separate but equal. A majority of the Israeli public believes religious families ought to live in separate neighborhoods, and even cities, to their secular counterparts, according to a new weekly poll new poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher Organization.


The poll furthermore revealed that 64% of Israelis disapprove of utilizing admissions criteria, such as psychological testing or background checks, for residents entering a new community, with only 19% approving of criminal background checks alone.


The poll was conducted by the Mutagim Institute, and was comprised of a representative sample 0f 505 Hebrew speaking Israeli adults.


When asked where a national religious family should ideally reside, 51% of respondents indicated that separating the various religious factions would be best. 29% of respondents indicated that religious families ought to live in their own specially designated communities, where as 22% supported the establishment of segregated oreligious neighborhoods within “religiously diverse” cities.


Only 33% of respondents indicated that they favored the establishment of joint communities containing both secular and religious residents.


When breaking down this survey data according to religious affiliation, it appears that haredi respondents favored segregation most, with 61% of haredi respondents indicating that they preferred to live in separate communities and neighborhoods.


A majority of traditional and ultra-Orthodox respondent (53%) as well as secular respondents (49%) were also in favor of separate depending on religious affiliation .


How would you define 'community' ?

How do Israelis define community? According to the poll data, 46% of Israelis define their neighbors as their community, 43% deem their co-workers as members of their community, 17% regard people attending their synagogue as their community, and 9% of respondents prefer their community to be virtual.


Where as a majority of haredim tend to regard their co-workers and their fellow synagogue congregants as their ‘community’ (52% to both responses), traditional and orthodox Israelis tend to regard their neighbors as their community (56% and 49% respectively), where as majority of their secular counterparts regard their co-workers as their community (43%).


The last part of this Gesher-Ynet poll asked respondents to indicate whether they would like to live in a community that has admissions criteria for new residents, namely psychological testing. The majority of respondents, 64% staunchly objected to such testing, where as 19% of respondents favored such testing only in extreme circumstances when individuals have a prior criminal record.


Haredim were especially adamant in their rejection of such background checks, with only 8% indicating their support for such admissions criteria even in instances when residents have a prior criminal background.


Gesher Educational affiliates Chairman, Shoshi Becker, addressed these burgeoning notions of community amongst Israelis and stated that “these findings reveal the deep, intrinsic connection people feel towards their neighbors and coworkers.


"Moreover, the notion of a ‘virtual community’ is a fascinating new notion that is only likely to develop further in the future.” 


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