Jan 13th, 2016
Hiddush released its new presentation titled, 'Marriage Freedom in Israel: by the Numbers,' which provides answers to the questions most often asked about the condition of marriage freedom in Israel, and related issues. Shahar Ilan, the Hiddush VP of Research and Information, presented the data at the meeting of the Knesset's Peoplehood, Religion, & State Caucus.
For years now, Hiddush has been recognized by policymakers and media professionals as the most important source of reliable, current data on matters of religion and state in Israel. This week, Hiddush released its new presentation titled, 'Marriage Freedom in Israel: by the Numbers,' which provides answers to the questions most often asked about the condition of marriage freedom in Israel, and related issues. Shahar Ilan, the Hiddush VP of Research and Information, presented the data at the meeting of the Peoplehood, Religion, & State Caucus, at the invitation of MK Aliza Lavie and MK Elazar Stern, both modern Orthodox MK’s who co-chair the caucus (both of Yesh Atid). One of the more important figures Hiddush presented is that 65% of Jewish Israelis believe the Chief Rabbinate's marriage monopoly is harmful to Judaism in Israel, and distances the public from Judaism.
The Hiddush presentation numbers are based upon our processing of data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Hiddush's 2015 Israel Religion & State Index (conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush), a survey conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemach for the Coalition for Marriage Freedom, and Hiddush's world map of marriage freedom available online at marriage.hiddush.org
Following are highlights from Hiddush's Knesset presentation:
- A total of 666 thousand Israelis cannot legally get married in Israel. Of these, 364,000 are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are officially classified as having "no religion" on account of their mothers not being halakhically Jewish (which renders them “non-Jews” in the eyes of the Rabbinate and the State of Israel), 5,000 Israelis who are classified as "forbidden to marry," 13,000 non-Orthodox converts, and 284,000 members of the LGBTQ community.
- Other populations that face legal marriage restrictions: 269.000 female divorcées (who cannot marry men who are descendants of the priestly clan, whether religious or secular), 50,000 female converts (they too are subject to the implementation of the Biblical law that forbids their marriage to men who have the religious 'priest' status), and 80,000 thousand Kohanim (men who are presumed to be of priestly descent) who cannot marry either divorcées or female converts.
- Couples who marry abroad: 20% of couples who registered their marriages in 2012 (the most recent year for which official figures are available at this time) were married abroad (the overwhelming majority of whom could not legally marry in Israel, because at least one of the spouses is not recognized as Jewish). In pure numbers: Of the 47,000 couples that registered their marriages with the Interior Ministry in 2012, 9,200 had their weddings abroad.
- 64% of the Jewish public supports official recognition of all types of marriage(civil and/or non-Orthodox), according to the 2015 Israel Religion & State Index conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush, including fully 90% of secular Jewish Israelis and immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Dr. Mina Tzemach's poll for the Coalition for Marriage Freedom arrived at a similar result: 67% of the Jewish Israeli public support the State implementing civil marriages and/or civil unions.
- 64% of the Jewish public support official recognition of same-sex partnerships, equal to the percentage of those who support official recognition of all types of heterosexual marriage. Support for the recognition of same-sex partnerships has surged in the last six years from 53% to 64%, a jump of 11%.
- 65% of the Jewish public believe the Rabbinate's marriage monopoly distances Jews from Judaism, and only 14% believe it brings Jews closer to Judaism (from the survey for the Coalition for Marriage Freedom).
- 70% of secular Jewish Israelis would prefer to have non-Orthodox weddings, if these were recognized by law, but only 37% of the general Jewish public would prefer the same (Israel Religion & State Index 2015).
- The public's ignorance: 62% of the Jewish population are unaware that even those who are married in civil ceremonies abroad may only get legally divorced in Israeli rabbinical courts. 60% of respondents did not know that more than 300 thousand immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union cannot legally get married in Israel (from the survey for the Coalition for Marriage Freedom).
- As you read these figures, consider whether you think the members of your own Jewish community are more knowledgeable… or does such ignorance characterize the situation throughout the Jewish world, and might it explain in part why this mind-boggling situation has not risen higher on the communal priority ladder until now?
- 93 countries (48% of the world) received a rating of 2 (marriage freedom) on Hiddush's World Map of Marriage Freedom (marriage.hiddush.org), and 56 countries received a rating of 1 (some restrictions on marriage freedom). Only 45 countries (23%), mostly Muslim countries that impose Sharia law on their citizens, but also including Israel, the only Western democracy on this list, received a rating of 0 for severe restrictions on marriage freedom.
Based upon these data, it is all too clear that the number of Israeli couples that wish to be free of the Rabbinate's shackles increases steadily by the day, as does the public's disgust with the Government's political horse-trading, conducted at the expense of marriage freedom and other basic building blocks of religious freedom and equality. Not only does the monopoly of the Rabbinate not contribute to preserving Judaism, but it actually alienates the general public from Judaism and associates it with dark, anachronistic extremism.
Subsequent to the Knesset caucus meeting, Hiddush's marriage freedom data were covered very widely in the Israeli and international media, including: The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, The JTA, Haaretz, The Jewish Daily Forward, The LA Jewish Journal, Carbonated, Radio Jai 96.3 (Spanish), Jewish Business News, i24 News, The Jerusalem Post Editorial, La Region (Spanish), The JNS, The Al Gemeiner, soL (Turkish), Aurora (Spanish), Radio Intereconomia (French), Listin Diario (Spanish),
As you read these figures, consider whether you think the members of your own Jewish community are more knowledgeable… or does such ignorance characterize the situation throughout the Jewish world, and might it explain in part why this mind-boggling situation has not risen higher on the communal priority ladder until now?