Passover is considered to be an especially difficult holiday, yet a new survey reveals – even Israel's secular population does not want to give it up. A Ynet-Gesher survey indicated that a clear majority of Israel's Jewish population, from every sector of society, are meticulous in not eating chametz on the seven days of Passover.
Moreover, a majority of the population believes that the often criticized Chametz Law, which forbids stores, restaurants, offices and public places from displaying or selling chametz, is necessary.
The survey was conducted by Panels Ltd. among 519 respondents – a national sample that represents Israel's adult Jewish population with a maximum sampling error of 4.4%.
Every Passover sees the question come up again on the public agenda: Would it have been better to leave the matter of chametz in the hands of the population rather than the legislative authority?
According to the survey, 56% of the Israeli public believes that the law is needed both for the Jewish character of the State (34%) and in order to maintain the status quo between the religious and secular citizens of Israel (22%).
In contrast, 42% believe the law is redundant: Some think "it needs to be a social norm that stems from mutual respect (24%) while others believe the individual's freedom must be respected and that chametz should be allowed on Passover (19%).
The survey revealed that some 70% of Israel's secular Jews believe that the law is unnecessary, with an equal number naming social norms and individual rights as the reason for their response.
Meanwhile, 76% of traditional respondents, 83% of modern orthodox and 95% of religious respondents believe the law is necessary.
When asked if they believed the Chametz Law influenced relations between the secular and religious citizens in Israel, 38% said it hurts the rights of the individual (the majority of the secular population), 27% said it contributed to joint relations as it maintained the Jewish identity in Israel, and 28% believe the law has little influence either way.
The survey also revealed that when the Passover holiday begins on Friday night, millions throughout the country will be celebrating – in accordance with the Jewish traditions. Some 61% of respondents declared that they would be having a full-fledged seder with all the trimmings (with the majority of this group made up of traditional and religious Israelis).
Some 33% said they would have a festive family dinner during which parts of the Haggadah would be read (secular Israelis). Some 4% would make do with a regular family dinner and 1% do not feel the need to mark the holiday in any way (an additional 1% stated that they had not yet decided on how to spend the holiday).
When asked whether they would eat chametz in a public place in front of religious or traditional people, 59% said the question was redundant as they do not eat chametz throughout the holiday week, 32% declared they would avoid it – so as not to offend anyone.
Some 6% said they would eat chametz but only "privately so that no one sees," and 2% would not consider anyone's feelings; 1% said they had no opinion on the matter.
Gesher Executive Director Ilan Geal-Dor believes that "The State's residents want a connection to tradition and heritage and see themselves as part of a long line of generations of the Jewish nation. That is why there is no need to enforce these things… Our challenge is to preserve this framework and transfer it on to future generations."