A joint Ynet-Gesher Foundation poll conducted in honor of the Knesset's winter session reveals that the religious and haredi populations would not cancel any one of the prominent religious laws on the books today, and even support expanding the scope of Shabbat observance in public spaces. The secular and traditional populations oppose such a move, but would cancel the exemption from national service granted to yeshiva students.
The Ynet-Gesher poll was conducted by Panels Ltd. and surveyed 520 respondents presenting a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximum sampling error is 4.4%±.
In the first section of the survey, the respondents were presented with four possible halachic laws and were asked which of them they would add to the law books. Thirty-five percent chose the death penalty for murderers, 23% chose "honor your mother and father," 14% preferred keeping the Sabbath in public spaces, 2% choose obligatory charity, and 26% chose none of them.
Analyzing the results according to religious affiliation shows that haredim and Orthodox people chose keeping Shabbat in public spaces (76% and 43% respectively), while the secular and traditional public chose the death penalty for murderers (39% and 36% respectively). As would be expected, the secular public stood out in their opposition to all of the laws suggested.
In response to the question "Which halachic law or ordinance would you take cancel from the following," 50% chose yeshiva students' exemption from IDF service, 20% chose marriage and divorce according to the halacha, 6% preferred cancelling the prohibition to work on Shabbat, 5% chose the prohibition to sell hametz (products containing leavening, such as bread) on Passover, and 19% chose none of the above.
Examining the results according to religious affiliation shows that haredi and Orthodox respondents chose not to cancel any of the laws suggested (76% and 56% respectively), while the secular and traditional populations would cancel the IDF exemption for yeshiva students (55% and 54% respectively).
Should malls be closed on Shabbat?
The third question asked whether or not the respondents are for or against closing malls and commercial centers on Shabbat. The results: 65% for, 35% against. By religious affiliation, 86% of the secular population came out in opposition; 50% of the traditional voted in favor and 50% voted against; religious and haredi populations voted for closing malls on Shabbat (89% and 100% respectively).
Gesher Foundation Director Ilan Geal-Dor said about the survey results, "The society in Israel is undergoing a drastic change. While any law that had any religious scent would be immediately discounted, today people are prepared to accept religious legislation as long as it connects with daily reality. Therefore, they accept, for instance, death punishment for murderers according to religious edicts."
"On the other hand, you can see that a majority of Israeli society does not give credence to the religious character of Shabbat," added Geal-Dor. "Even those who are opposed to opening malls on Shabbat do so out of societal considerations."