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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘survey’

Which Is Worse for Jews: Halloween or Christmas?

Monday, October 31st, 2016

The weeks before both fall and winter American holidays, Halloween and Christmas usually bring a harvest of articles in Jewish print publications and online debating just how far outside what is proper for a Jew to do would be taking your kid trick-or-treating or attending your office mate’s Christmas dinner. Obviously, neither issue is a problem for Orthodox Jews: you don’t take your kid begging for goyeshe candy and you don’t eat your buddy’s goyeshe goose, end of story. Everyone else, though, seems to experience the worst angst of life in diaspora on those two dates. So the purpose of this roundup of some Jewish views is not to decide whether either options are recommended for a healthy, self-aware Jewish family to engage in, but rather which of the two is worse.

Or, to cut to the chase, which of the two is more repugnant to a Jewish person, the tradition of All Hallows’ Eve (a.k.a. All Saints’ Day), or the celebration of the birthday of that man from Nazareth whose mother claimed she dated God.

Both Halloween and Christmas have deep roots in pagan tradition. Halloween was a Celtic holiday celebrated by the druid priests of Gaul and Britain, marking the end of the summer harvest season with fruits and drink. Christmas began as the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of the sun god, set on the winter solstice, December 25.

So, both holidays began as pagan feasts and were later adopted by the Catholic Church which scrubbed them off and sanctified them as good, proper Christian dates. Although in neither case the Church was not unable to wipe off the nasty roots of either day.

In other words, had most Jews been invited to partake in an event that were described to them as celebrating both pagan and Christian values, they would have balked, for sure. The problem is that both days are sold to US Jews as much more fun than all that. The website MyJewishLearning cites a Jewish author who wrote: “One of my fondest memories of kindergarten was the first Halloween celebrated at school. I marched proudly from room to room in our elementary school in my Wilma Flintstone  costume as a participant in the Halloween parade. The anticipation of the event was overwhelming, exciting and the fun was anything but sinister…. To say that participating in Halloween leads to devil worship is like saying taking Tylenol leads to crack addition.”

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, writing for Chabad.org, reminds his Jewish readers of Purim, the Jewish holiday when kids get to dress up and party, but how different are Halloween and Purim from one another: demanding treats instead of giving to charity, scaring instead of rejoicing, dressing up as demonic creatures instead of as positive, historic figures (that last one may need some verification).

The ReformJudaism.org website is surprisingly similar to Chabad.org, in reminding readers about Purim, and in offering them information about the distinctly non-Jewish and quite sinister origins of the holiday. They encourage families to have a discussion of whether or not they’d like to celebrate Halloween, and how much money to spend on said celebration. They also suggest parents highlight the fun of giving to others at the door, instead of taking; recommend donating last year’s costumes to shelter children; and suggest posting a tzedakah box at the door where you’ll put in a coin for every visitor who rings the bell.

That’s the common line that runs through much of the debate on Halloween and American Jews: reminders of those original druids and their crazy parties, notes on the Catholic Church adopting the date, and, inevitably, recognition that kids will be kids, let them have their fun, what’s the worst that can happen.

What about Halloween’s more respectable neighbor, two calendar pages over? It’s not as easy to dig up Jewish websites that treat Christmas as lightly as they do Halloween, despite the fact that their historic origins and ideological foundations are identical: both are pagan holidays turned Christian.

Rabbi Jen E. Krause of New York‘s 92nd St. Y told Time Magazine back in 2013 that although she prefers that Jews celebrate Hanukkah rather than Christmas, she understands why US Jews don’t wish to feel left out: “For Jewish Americans, it would be almost like not being a part of Labor Day or Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekend.”

The Ask the Rabbi Interfaith Family section of About.com has a question from a Jewish woman married to a Christian man, with children, who is troubled by an invitation to her in-laws’ for Christmas dinner: “We have always explained it as something that grandma and grandpa do and that we are happy to help them celebrate, but that we are a Jewish family. What is your opinion? How should a Jewish family deal with Christmas especially when Christmas is such a production during the holiday season?”

The Rabbi’s answer, alas, treats the Christmas dinner as an organic extension of the Trick-or-Treat outing: “Your in-laws are not asking you and your family to attend Christmas mass in church with them nor are they foisting Christian beliefs on your children. It sounds like your husband’s parents simply want to share the love and joy they experience when their family gathers in their home at Christmas. This is a good thing and a great blessing worthy of your unequivocal and unambiguous embrace! Rarely will life give you such a rich and teachable moment with your children.”

Clearly, there is only one safe escape for US Jews from the trap of Christian ideology, which is set by every facet of American popular culture and plucks every string in the heart of an American Jew: stay away. If you thought Christmas is really bad to celebrate, but Halloween is OK, you were probably wrong. It is impossible to paint lipstick on either of these pigs, but in the competition between Halloween and Christmas over which of the two holidays is more dangerous Halloween wins out, hands down, because it doesn’t look dangerous.

Interestingly, many US Christians shun both holidays on the grounds that they’re both not really Christian but pagan celebrations. Shouldn’t we be at least as religiously consistent as our Evangelical neighbors?

JNi.Media

Survey: Half of Evacuees Believe They’ll Return to Gush Katif

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

More than a decade after they had been expelled from their homes as part of the “disengagement” program, half of the sample of 248 Gush Katif evacuees responding to a survey conducted by the Raffi Smith Research and polling Institute said they believe they’d be returning home to Gush Katif some day. Of those, 92% said they would return when invited to. Among those who did not believe in the possibility of a return, fewer than half said they would take advantage of such an offer.

A full 30% of respondents say they still define themselves as Gush Katif residents and only a quarter see themselves as belonging to their new communities. Two thirds said living in a community has helped their adjustment process.

The survey found that religious evacuees have done better than their secular brethren. 90% of the religious respondents said they were satisfied with their new residence, compared with only 56% of the secular. More than 70% of the religious said their lives have returned to normal, compared with only 52% of the secular and 51% of those who described themselves as traditional.

There were a few specific differences between former residents of Nisanit, the largest settlement in the northern tip of the Gaza Strip, and the evacuees of the Gush Katif bloc in the southern part of the strip. Nisanit, which numbered about 300 families (some 900 people), was a ‘mixed’ settlement, with religious and secular Jews living together. Only half of the Nisanit residents surveyed said they had been able to return to a normal life, compared with two-thirds of the southern dwellers. Only a third of the northerners found a proper solution in new communities, compared with 70% of the people from the south.

As many as 80% of respondents said they were holding on to some object—from a sand bottle to a garden rock—from their demolished homes. 30% of them still reside in temporary housing. 14% are unemployed, in an Israeli job market with only 4.8% unemployment.

The survey was ordered by the Gush Katif Residents Committee, on the occasion of the publishing of the new book Makom (Place) by Ofra Lax. Committee chairwoman Hagit Yaronsaid in a statement, “Eleven years after the uprooting, the great Gush Katif family continues to miss its home. The residents are longing for the place, the friends and communities that have been dispersed across the country. There’s no doubt that our transfer as whole communities has enabled us to return to life and rebuild our settlements. Many among us still believe that some day the nation of Israel will return to Gush Katif, to grow and be grown in its sands.”

JNi.Media

Survey: Vast Majority of Israeli Businesses Prefer to Stay Shut on Shabbat

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

As many as 92% of business owners in Israel are not interested in keeping their shops open on Shabbat, and 98% stated that they are not asked by their customers to stay open on the Jewish day of rest, according to a new survey released by Israeli business information group CofaceBdi.

The survey covered 135 Israeli businesses spread countrywide, and clearly showed a reluctance on the part of business owners to work on Shabbat, despite calls from secular Israelis to designate Shabbat as a vibrant shopping day.

While only 8% of business owners said they would like to stay open on Shabbat, almost all the respondents, 98%, said they are not receiving requests from their customers to make their shops available on Shabbat. A mere 2%, about 3 shops, reported hearing from customers that they’d like to shop there on Shabbat.

Interestingly, only 21% of respondents said they would see a rise in their daily income should they stay open on Shabbat. 32% expected their Shabbat income to match their regular days’ yield, and 47% expected to take in less on Shabbat.

The vast majority of respondents said staying closed or open on Shabbat should be left to them to decide, while 19% preferred that the decision be enforced by the authorities.

All of that having been established, 51% of business owners, who mostly don’t want to work on Shabbat, said there should be countrywide public transportation on Shabbat — 49% said there shouldn’t be.

CofaceBdi Co-CEO Tehila Yanai told Ynet that the majority of business owners said they just needed a day off. Others said the kind of traffic that they’d get isn’t worth staying open. A few said they were religious.

JNi.Media

Survey: Jewish Voters Give Hillary Lowest Support of All Democratic Nominees Since 1980

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has issued a survey of American Jewish opinion, conducted by the research company SSRS based on telephone interviews from August 8 to 28, with a national sample of 1,002 Jews over age 18 and a margin of error of +-3.57%, showing the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enjoys the support of 61% of the voters who identify themselves as Jewish. And although her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, only gets 19% of the Jewish vote, Hillary’s figure is the lowest scored by a Democrat among Jewish voters since Jimmy Carter only took 45% of the Jewish vote against Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The highest Jewish vote in the 20th century went to FDR in 1940 and 1944, 90% each time; LBJ also took 90%, in 1964; JFK received 82% of the Jewish vote in 1960; Humphrey 81% in 1968; Bill Clinton 80% in 1992; Gore 79% in 2000; and Obama 78% in 2008 and 69% in 2012.

Even George McGovern, with 65%, did better with the Jewish voters than Hillary has been doing. Trump, by the way, is doing about as well as GW Bush did in 2000. Bush later took 24% of the Jewish vote against Kerry in 2004, McCain 22% in 2008, and Romney 30% in 2012. (Source: Jewish Virtual Library)

Only 51% of the American Jews surveyed identify as Democrats. 26% are Independent and only 18% Republican. The Green Party attracts 2% of the Jewish vote, the Libertarians, despite their admiration for the strong ideas of one Russian Jewish lady, only attract 1% of US Jews to their ranks.

US Jews are still more left- than right-leaning: 51% are Liberal or lean Liberal, 24% Conservative or lean Conservative. 23% say they are moderates.

How about that famous Jewish optimism about the future of America? Not a whole lot of it is left, apparently. When asked if their children would be better or worse off than their parents when they grow up, 39% said the kids better get ready for a worse future; 29% believe in a better future; 27% don’t see a big change coming in either direction.

A whopping 57% of the American Jews questioned identified anti-Semitism on US campuses a problem, 23% of them think it’s a very serious problem at that. Only 6% don’t see it as a problem at all.

Here’s a kind of nice surprise, although in an underhanded sort of way: only 15% of the Jews asked are married to a non-Jew. But wait, don’t celebrate yet: only 35% are married to a Jew, either from birth or a convert, and a full 49% are not married. In other words, close to half of the American Jewish community is probably not involved in promulgating the Jewish community.

52% of the Jewish respondents have never been to Israel (that percent goes up when you exclude the Orthodox – of which 85% have visited Israel), 21% have only been once. So that when they were asked what they think of the fact that Orthodox Judaism is the only denomination recognized by Israel as an official form of Judaism, and 48% said it “Weakens Israel’s ties with American Jews,” it’s likely most of them have not forged their opinions based on personal experience.

And when they were asked what they consider the most important change necessary in Israeli Judaism, and 41% answered, “Securing legal recognition of equality for all streams of Judaism,” that answer, too, was provided based mostly on op-eds and Facebook posts. Likewise when 74% insisted “legal recognition should also be extended to non-Orthodox weddings, divorces, and conversions,” this opinion was mostly theoretical.

JNi.Media

Survey Finds Israelis Have Few Delusions about Peace, IDF Brass

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Against a background of recent disputes between the IDF senior command and right-leaning groups in the Israeli Jewish public, as well as with senior political leaders on the right, the July Peace Index focused on aspects of the IDF’s relationships with the public and with the political leadership. Or, rather, its Tuesday’s press release said so. As in all things factual, God is in the details; and when it comes to public opinion surveys, the details emanate from the questions.

To illuminate things, the Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. The IDI is mostly made up of hard-left academics, with a smattering of token right-leaning individuals.

Now, rather than copy and paste the executive summary which was emailed to news organizations in a press release, JNI.media examined the actual data, which the Peace Index website also offers.

For whatever reason, it turns out the PI press release completely ignored the second question posed to its July group of 500 Jews and 100 Arabs: “Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?”

Among the Jewish respondents, only 4% strongly believe in such a possibility. 16.1% believe it moderately. 35.4% moderately do not believe it. 41.1% do not believe it at all. We feel this should have been the focus of the survey: some 77% of Israeli Jews do not believe peace is a possibility. Incidentally, the Arab group is more optimistic, with 27% strongly believing in a coming peace, 19% moderately.

But maybe the PI has grown tired of getting this same answer to the peace question from Israeli Jews, who have grown thoroughly disillusioned and simply no longer expect their Arab neighbors to accept them as a legitimate political entity.

So, turning to the subject on which the PI press release opted to focus: how close is the apparent value system of the IDF senior command and that of the general public and of the political leadership? The question posed was: “At present, is the framework of values of the IDF’s senior command level close to or distant from the framework of values of the general Israeli public?”

Very few Jews, 7.2%, actually believe the two are very close. The middle was taken up by 41.7% who see them as moderately close and 28.7% as moderately distant. 8% believe they’re very distant. In other words, about 78% of Israeli Jews perceive a gap between the ideology of the IDF leadership and the rest of the nation. That is some gap.

A very similar outcome emerges in response to a comparison between the IDF leadership and the political leadership. A whopping 69% perceive a distance between the two. In a democratic country, such a perception of the military skewing to the left of where the elected officials and the political majority stand is reason for anxiety.

More Israelis disagree than agree with the assertion by Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli, that the IDF has adopted a pluralist worldview, expressed through HR allocations, appointments and budgets, that opposes halakha and pushes out religious-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox soldiers and officers. 33% of the Jews agree with Rabbi Levenstein, 52.3% disagree.

But one must ask how much of the Levenstein lecture that caused the public brouhaha did those 52.3% actually get to hear?

Are they aware of the recent Liba organization report that points out blatantly anti-religious IDF orders, like the prohibition on growing beards. Or do they know that the age limit for career officers enrolling in the IDF battalion commander course was cut down to 32, deliberately in order to disqualify religious officers whose career track, mixing yeshiva study and military service, is longer? Do they know that the Education Corps promotes soldiers’ interaction with Muslim, Christian and Reform and Conservative practices, at the expense of the more established faith, Orthodox Judaism? Is it possible that those responses would have been different had the respondents been aware of the realities Levenstein’s talk represented?

Finally, here’s a stacked question where the phrasing presages the answer. The PI question was: “In your opinion, is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values—for example, regarding acceptance of the other when it comes to the LGBT community?”

What the question does, slyly, is introduce a claim that the values of openness and pluralism are mainly expressed by embracing homosexuals. It doesn’t offer any other choices for pluralism, such as permitting religious soldiers to abstain from concerts with female singers (they must stay and listen); or accepting a call from a brigade commander to go to battle that includes the Shema Israel; or accepting the fact that the vast majority of religious Jews view homosexuality as a repugnant phenomenon, which some are prepared to tolerate, but nothing more.

To produce a reliable response, the question should have been either, “Is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values,” with which the vast majority would have agreed (who doesn’t want to be open and pluralistic?) or “Do you support homosexuals serving in the IDF?” — without endowing the LGBT with the mitigating term of “the other,” which would have produced a truer reflection of the Israeli public’s views on the matter.

This month’s survey was conducted by telephone on July 25-27, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews and 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.

JNi.Media

Survey: Majority of Israeli Jews Favor Keeping Judea and Samaria, Israeli Arabs Favor Keeping Large Settlement Blocs

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Sometime after the Six Day War the settlement enterprise began to develop. In your opinion, from a perspective of 50 years later, has the settlement enterprise contributed to or damaged Israel’s national interest?” was one of the opening questions in a June survey comparing the attitudes of Israeli Jews and Arabs on the liberated territories.

The survey found that 52% of the Jewish public thinks the settlement enterprise has contributed to the national interest.

And so the survey noted that “some claim that over the years Israeli governments have invested many resources and monies in developing the Jewish settlements and infrastructures in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, and previously also in Gaza, at the expense of other areas and populations in Israel that are disadvantaged and would have needed these resources and budgets. Others claim that there is no connection between the two because one does not come at the expense of the other.” Then it inquired, “With which claim do you agree?”

49% of the Jews said there is no connection between the two; 45% say the investment in the territories comes at the expense of budgets for deprived areas and disadvantaged populations.

In the Arab public, a two-thirds majority considers the investments in the territories a detraction from investments in deprived areas and disadvantaged populations inside green line Israel.

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute. The June survey, conducted by phone on June 28-29, 2016, included 600 respondents — 500 Jews, 100 Arabs, who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.1%.

The survey also found that a majority of the Jewish respondents do not know for sure the size of the Jewish or of the Palestinian population in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Asked how many Jews live in these territories (not counting the neighborhoods of expanded Jerusalem such as Gilo or Pisgat Ze’ev), about 25% underestimated the figure to be 100,000-250,000, 30% answered correctly that the number is 250,000-500,000, 13% gave an overestimate of 500,000-750,000, 3% thought the correct number was 750,000 to a million, and about 25% did not know at all.

As to the Arab population in Judea and Samaria, not counting Jerusalem, the estimates were: 24%—half a million to a million, 36%—one to two million, 10%—two million to three million, and 3%—over three million. 27% did not know.

The fact is that no one really knows how many Arabs live today in the parts of Judea and Samaria governed by the Palestinian Authority, and so, in this instance, there is no wrong answer.

59% of the Jews and 73% of the Arabs favor holding a referendum on Israel leaving the territories. As to how the respondents would vote in such a referendum, 52% of the Jews reported that in the existing situation they would vote against a withdrawal, while 36% answered that they would vote in favor.

Among the Arabs 69% said that if a referendum were to be held today, they would vote in favor of leaving the territories while retaining the large settlement blocs.

Only 51% the Jewish respondents believe all the citizens of the state would be entitled to participate in such a referendum. 44% believe that only the Jewish citizens of the country should be entitled to participate.

David Israel

Survey: Israelis Don’t Read Good, Don’t Count So Good Either

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Israeli grownups are less skilled than most citizens of the industrialized countries in math, reading and problem-solving in a digital environment, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday. The findings were collected by the Israeli Survey of Adult Skills, which is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies for 2014-2015.

In reading literacy, the average score in Israel is 255 compared with 268, the OECD average, placing Israel in 28th place out of 34 countries in this category.

In math literacy, the Israeli average is 251, compared with 263, placing it in the 29th spot out of 34 countries.

In solving problems in an online environment, the Israeli average is 274, compared with 279, placing it in 24th place out of 29 countries surveyed.

However, in all three areas, Israeli Jews scored far better than their Arab neighbors, with an average gap of 40 to 50 points in every area. Israeli Jews consistently scored at the OECD average, while Israeli Arabs fell far below.

The surveys were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

The survey found that only 9% of Jews lacked basic digital skills: using a computer mouse, scrolling down a website, compared with 34% of the Arabs surveyed.

The average score of younger participants was higher than the score of older participants in all three areas. The older the participant, the lower the score. However, Jewish scores strated dropping significantly at age 40, while Arab scores did at 30.

Men lead women in Israel in math literacy, but the two sexes are equal in reading literacy and in problem solving.

The survey found a correlation between participants’ scores and their income level. Participants with total inexperience in using computers reported annual incomes as low as $20,890.

Haredi Jews performed particularly badly compared with non-Haredi Jews in problem solving: 19% to 37% correspondingly.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/survey-israelis-dont-read-good-dont-count-so-good-either/2016/06/29/

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