Hiddush survey: The night the Ritual Bath Bill passed its first Knesset reading
62% support right of non-Orthodox converts to use mikva'ot
86% of Israel's secular Jewish population support this right, but 91% of the ultra-Orthodox population is opposed. Hiddush VP Shahar Ilan: "This Knesset vote was nothing less than spitting in the face of world Jewry. The best way to predict the Government Coalition's course of action on matters of religion and state is to poll the Israeli public and assume that the Coalition will do exactly the opposite."
62% of the Jewish public in Israel and 71% of the non-Haredi population support support the right of Conservative and Reform converts to make use of Israel's publicly funded ritual baths, which are operated by the municipal religious councils. 38% oppose this. 86% of secular Jews and 58% of traditional Jews support this, but 63% of Zionist Orthodox Jews and 91% of ultra-Orthodox Jews oppose it.
This survey was conducted by the Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel. It was conducted by telephone among a representative population sample of 500 people from Israel's adult Jewish population. The survey examined the extent of public support for the ritual baths law promoted by the ultra-Orthodox parties in order to prevent non-Orthodox Jewish converts from immersing in the State's publicly funded ritual baths. Last night the Knesset approved the law on its first reading by a majority of 28 to 18. This survey was conducted with generous support from IREP - the Israel Religious Expression Platform.
This vote was nothing less than a slap in World Jewry's face, as well as an insult to the Israeli public, which has repeatedly expressed overwhelming support for state protected equal rights for all branches of Judaism.
Hiddush VP Shahar Ilan responded that "this vote was nothing less than a slap in World Jewry's face, as well as an insult to the Israeli public, which has repeatedly expressed overwhelming support for state protected equal rights for all branches of Judaism. No immersion in any ritual bath could clean the Knesset of the disgrace of groveling before MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism party), the Chairman of the powerful Knesset Finance Committee who spearheaded this legislation and strong armed the Government Coalition into supporting it. This bill aims to bypass the High Court and trample upon Israel's rule of law."
According to Ilan, "It turns out that the best way to predict the Government Coalition's course of action on matters of religion and state is to poll the Israeli public and assume that the Coalition will do exactly the opposite. This has been the case regarding equality of civic burden, increasing government stipends for yeshiva students, operating public transportation on Shabbat, and access to Israel's publicly funded ritual baths." Ilan noted, however, that "the more MK Gafni and his colleagues aggressively push forward their religiously coercive policies, the closer we come to the day when Israel will once again be ruled by a civil government without the ultra-Orthodox parties, which will undo all of the terrible laws this Coalition has passed in the arena of religion and state."
The wording of the survey question was as follows: "The Supreme Court ruled that Reform and Conservative converts have the right to immerse in publicly funded ritual baths, which are operated by municipal religious councils. The ultra-Orthodox parties are promoting a bill to prevent the implementation of this ruling. Do you: support or oppose Reform and Conservative converts being allowed to immerse in the publicly funded ritual baths?"
62% of adult Israeli Jews expressed support for the right of Reform and Conservative converts to make use of the ritual baths, of which 40% expressed strong support, and 22% expressed moderate support. 38% were opposed, of which 24% were very opposed, and 14% were moderately opposed. Although 63% of Zionist Orthodox Jews opposed this, 57% of voters for the Zionist Orthodox Jewish Home party voiced their support. This once again underscores the high number of secular and traditional Jewish Home party voters.
Among the the Coalition parties: 58% of Likud voters support the right of Conservative and Reform converts to immerse in the publicly funded ritual baths, as do 71% of Kulanu voters and 73% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters. 82% of Shas voters and 93% of United Torah Judaism voters oppose this. Among the Opposition parties: 97% of Yesh Atid voters, 87% of Meretz voters, and 76% of Zionist Union voters support this right.