Poll: Most Israeli and American Jews want Israel to recognize non-Orthodox marriages, conversions

(JTA) – A large majority of American and Israeli Jews say Israel should recognize marriages and conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis.

A poll conducted by The Jerusalem Post and the American Jewish Committee found that 74 per cent of American Jews and 62 per cent of Israeli Jews believe the non-Orthodox rites should be recognized. The findings were released Tuesday.

In Israel, the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate controls all religious ceremonies – including marriage, divorce, conversion and burial – and those performed by non-Orthodox clergy are not recognized by the state.

The survey of 1,002 Americans and 500 Israelis also found that a plurality of American Jews, 48 per cent, think Orthodox control of the Rabbinate weakens ties between their community and Israel. A similar portion of Israeli Jews, 54 per cent, do not want Orthodox control over religious matters in their country.

A majority of both groups, 70 per cent for the Americans and 61 per cent for the Israelis, favours creating a pluralistic section at the Western Wall plaza for egalitarian services.

In January, the Israeli government approved a compromise deal to expand the non-Orthodox section adjacent to the plaza while also solidifying Orthodox control of the main prayer section. The deal has yet to be implemented.

Fifty-two per cent of the Americans polled have never been to Israel.

The Jerusalem Post and the AJC conducted the polling in the United States, and the Rafi Smith Polling Institute conducted the survey in Israel. The poll has a margin of error of 3.57 and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

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