Most Israelis Value Marking Passover According to Jewish Law, Study Shows

According to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute, 67% of Jewish Israelis refuse to eat hametz on Passover.

Most Jewish Israelis value marking Passover according to Jewish law and 67% refuse to eat hametz (leavened bread) during the holiday, a recent study has shown.

The vast majority, 85 percent, say it is important to celebrate holidays as per Jewish tradition, but only do so selectively. Most of them, 90 percent, say it is important to mark Passover according to Jewish law, while a large proportion, 82 percent, say they light Hanukkah candles.

Passover 2012
Gil Cohen Magen

A lower proportion, 67 percent, say they do not eat hametz on Passover, 68 percent fast on Yom Kippur, 36 percent hear the Megilat Esther on Purim and 20 percent stay up late or all night on Shavuot to study Torah (a practice known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot).

The study, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute's Guttman Center for Surveys and the Avi Chai Foundation, is based on interviews with 2,803 Israeli Jews in 2009.

Additional survey findings showed that most Jewish Israelis, 76 percent, eat Kosher food at home, 70 percent eat kosher food outside their homes as well, and 72 percent refuse to eat pork under any circumstances. The refusal to eat pork was commonly explained by religious reasons.

The study's results showed an upswing in religious practice. For instance, the number of respondents said that "celebrating the Jewish holidays as prescribed by religious tradition" was "important" or "very important," was up to 85 percent in 2009 from 63 percent in 1999, while those who said they "always" or "frequently" refrained from eating hametz on Passover, was up to 70 percent in 2009 from 67 percent in 1999.

Fully 61 percent of respondents said the state should "ensure that public life is conducted according to Jewish religious tradition," up dramatically from 44 percent in 1991. But respondents also insisted on preserving their freedom of choice. For instance, between 58 and 68 percent said that shopping centers, public transportation, sporting events, cafes, restaurants and movie theaters should be allowed to operate on Shabbat (exact figures ranged from 58 percent for shopping centers to 68 percent for cafes, restaurants and movie theaters).