Poll: 52% of Israelis Would Skip Rosh Hashanah Meal if Unvaccinated Relatives Attend

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Among respondents older than 55, an even larger majority said they'd skip a meal if it included unvaccinated guestsCredit: AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

More than half of Israeli Jews polled in a recent survey have said that the presence of unvaccinated friends and relatives at meals over the upcoming High Holy Days could cause them to reconsider their own attendance.

The survey, released by the Israel Democracy Institute on Wednesday, polled 602 Hebrew speakers and 155 Arabic speakers and found that 52 percent of Israeli Jews were hesitant to attend any fall holiday meals if those included unvaccinated guests. The figure rose to 58 percent among individuals who self-identified as vaccinated. The percentage of individuals who replied that they “would forgo the holiday meals if they were to include unvaccinated people” increased with age, rising to 70 percent among Jewish respondents aged 55-64.

A full 43 percent of Jews polled said that including unvaccinated people in the holiday meals would not affect their decision, with that figure rising to 71 percent among unvaccinated respondents.

Asked to evaluate the performance of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government in handling the latest wave of the pandemic, 39 percent of respondents graded it a poorly while only 16 percent stated that they believed the government was handling it very well. On average, Israeli Jews gave the government a grade of 4.53 out of 10, while Arab Israelis assigned it a 5.54.

Among Jews, perception of the government’s handling of the pandemic varied significantly according to their political orientation, with 70 percent of those on the left and 60 percent of those in the center viewing it positively, while 78 percent of those on the right described it in negative terms.

Side effects may include seeing your family on the High Holy DaysCredit: AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

On Tuesday, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman released a new report stating that the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been ridden with failures and calling out former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s centralized decision-making process, which saw him make decisions without them being discussed in the ministerial COVID-19 cabinet.

Almost half of respondents (49 percent) also replied that they believed current public health restrictions on the unvaccinated are too light, with a greater number of Jews (53 percent) taking this position than Arabs (32.5 percent). Fourty-four percent of Arabs polled said they believe the current set of restrictions is appropriate. Only 25 percent of Jews indicated satisfaction with the rules as they stand now.

Fifteen percent of Jews and 12 percent of Arabs stated that the current restrictions are too heavy-handed. Bennett has pushed the current restrictions, combined with mass vaccination, as an alternative to another lockdown, which he said “would destroy the future of the country.”

On Monday, the coronavirus cabinet approved further restrictions to halt the spread of the delta variant, including a plan proposed by Bennett to limit the number of worshipers at the Western Wall for selihot penitential prayers ahead of Rosh Hashanah to no more than 8,000 people.

People waiting to get vaccinated at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, last week.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

At their meeting, the ministers also extended Green Pass regulations to all apply to staff at health and educational institutions, as well as employees at any site where customers are subject to the Green Pass rules. The rules make admission to various public locations for those over the age of three conditional on presentation of proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus, or a negative coronavirus test. Malls and stores are exempt.

About two weeks ago, new limitations on gatherings went into effect, capping the number of participants at events to 1,000 people in enclosed spaces and 5,000 at outdoor events without assigned seating. 

In early August, the coronavirus cabinet decided to exempt worshipers at synagogues, mosques and churches from the obligation to present the Green Pass. The decision, which came at the request of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, imposed entry restrictions only on prayers involving more than 50 people. 

In March 2020, the Health Ministry found that of the people infected in public spaces, more than 30 percent had visited synagogues and yeshivas.

While severe cases among the inoculated have declined in recent weeks, overall infections have continued to rise, reaching a record 10,947 on Monday – the same day that the number of COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic reached Israel last year rose past 7,000.

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