62% of the Jewish public in Israel and 71% of the non-haredi population think Reform and Conservative conversion should be allowed to use public mikvehs, compared to 38% of the general public who are opposed.
Among secular Israelis the margin of support is even greater, with 86% saying they support the use of public mikvehs for non-Orthodox conversions, while among traditional Jews the figure was 58%. However, in the religious sector as a whole, 63% are opposed, and among haredim 91% are opposed.
These are the results of a new Smith Institute poll conducted for the 'Hiddush' organization, which supports increasing the influence of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel. The poll was conducted by phone sample size of 500 respondents from the Jewish adult population, examining the degree of support for the 'Mikveh Law' being promoted by haredi parties.
The proposed law would bar the use of public mikvehs in Reform and Conservative conversions. Last night (Monday) the law passed a first reading in the Knesset plenum by a majority of 28 to 18.
Hiddush Deputy CEO Shachar Ilan condemned the law, saying "the vote is certainly a slap in the face to world Jewry, but the public in Israel also repeatedly expresses clear support for equality between different denominations of Judaism. No mikveh immersion will wash the Knesset's hands clean of the impurity of this initiative and the shame of pandering to the Chairman of the Finance Committee [UTJ's Moshe Gafni] in this way. This is a law meant to bypass the Supreme Court and trample the rule of law."
According to Ilan, "it turns out that the best way to predict the coalition's actions in matters of religion and state is to check what the public wants and assume the government will do the exact opposite. This was the case in the matter of drafting haredim to the army, funding for Kollel students, public transportation on Shabbat and now the mikvehs." Ilan however added that "the more Gafni and his friends continue along this path of coercion, the closer they will bring the day that Israel will get a civil government without the haredi parties. This government will walk back all of the terrible laws that this coalition is passing."
It should be noted that Hiddush is committed to promoting the interests of the Reform and Conservative streams in Israel, in promotion of what it calls "religious freedom and equality".
The poll question was worded thus: "The Supreme Court has ruled that Reform and Conservative converts be allowed to make use of public mikvehs run by the Religious Councils. The haredi parties are promoting a law that will overturn this. Do you support or oppose Reform and Conservative converts making use of public mikvehs?"
Among the 62% in support, 40% said they greatly support it and 22% said they support it somewhat. Of the 38% in opposition, 24% strenuously oppose, and 14% oppose it somewhat. In spite of the fact that 63% of religious people were opposed, 57% of 'Jewish Home' voters were in support. These data offer more evidence of the large amount of secular and traditional 'Jewish Home' voters.
Among other voters the results were: 58% of Likud voters were in support, as well as 71% of Kulanu voters and 73% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters. 82% of Shas voters are in opposition, as well as 93% of UTJ voters; of the opposition parties: 97% of Yesh Atid voters and 87% of Meretz voters were in support, versus only 76% of Zionist Union voters who said they supported the proposition.