Poll: Only 17% of Israeli ultra-Orthodox celebrate Independence Day
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Poll: Only 17% of Israeli ultra-Orthodox celebrate Independence Day

In haredi community, Sephardic Jews and over-45s identify more with festivities; only 34% say Holocaust Remembrance Day a time of mourning

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman and thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating in Meron, Northern Israel, December 1, 2017. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Rabbi Elimelech Biderman and thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating in Meron, Northern Israel, December 1, 2017. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Much of Israel is gearing up to celebrate the country’s 70th Independence Day, but most of the ultra-Orthodox community won’t be joining in the festivities.

A study released last week by the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 17 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews considered Independence Day to be a festive day.

Most of the ultra-Orthodox community also does not only share in Israel’s mourning on Holocaust Remembrance Day, with only 36% of saying they felt it was a day of mourning.

Independence Day celebrations begin on Wednesday night, as the country transitions from Memorial Day — 24 hours of mourning for its fallen soldiers and terror victims — with Thursday a public holiday.

The survey found that only 8% of respondents “strongly agreed” with the statement that “Independence Day is a festival,” 9% agreed with the statement, 16% said they do not agree, and 47% said they strongly disagree.

The survey found that older people were more likely to mark the day as a festival.

Only 17% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15% of 25- to 44-year-olds among the ultra-Orthodox said Independence Day was a festive day, the survey found, as well as 17% of 45- to 54-year-olds. However, 23% of those over 55 considered it a festive day.

The poll found that Sephardic Jews, those with origins in the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East, were more likely (30%) to consider Independence Day a festival than Ashkenazi Jews (12%), who have European origins.

Similarly, Sephardic Jews were more likely to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, which fell last Wednesday, as a day of mourning. Only 26% of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox respondents said the day was one of mourning for them, whereas almost half (48.5%) of the Sephardic respondents said it was a sad day.

A larger percentage of all age groups said that Holocaust Remembrance Day was a sad occasion for them.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 34% said it was a sad day, while 33.5% of 25- to 44-year-old said the same thing. However, 43% of 45- to 54-year-olds and 53% of those over 55 considered it a day of mourning.

The survey was conducted by Tamar Hermann and Or Anabi of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Surveys and was based on a representative sample of the ultra-Orthodox population, with 1,010 respondents.

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