Israel's Religiously Divided Society - Pew Research Center, 2014-15

Sponsor(s): Pew Research Center

Principal Investigator(s): Alan Cooperman, Neha Sahgal, Anna Schiller

Study Dates: Interviews October 15, 2014 through May 21, 2015

Key Findings:

Pew Research Center report on survey of Israelis was issued in March, 2016 based on interviews completed between October 14, 2014 and May 21, 2015.

Report title: Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.  Subtitle: "Deep gulfs among Jews, as well as between Jews and Arabs, over political values and religion’s role in public life."

Please see links on left side of this Overview Page for the Pew Study page.  On the Study Page, the complete report (including Methodological Appendix) and the Topline results are available in English for downloading.  

• An Arabic summary of the survey is also available, as are 

• A Hebrew summary of the survey and the Hebrew version of the survey questionnaire.

Please see the discussion of the survey's research methodology under Study Notes below on this DataBank Overview Page


DataBank users should download the complete report which provides a fascinating snapshot of life in Israel for Jews and non-Jews.  Comparisons of the Israeli Jewish respondent data to data on American Jews can be found in chapter 1 of the report.  Other chapters compare Muslim and Jewish responses, providing an unparalleled analysis of contemporary Israeli society.


A brief introduction to the survey results focusing on internal Jewish divisions follows...

While the Jewish population of Israel remains united behind the idea that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people and a necessary refuge from rising anti-Semitism around the globe, alongside these sources of unity in Israel there are also deep divisions in Israeli society – "not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry."

"Nearly all Israeli Jews identify with one of four categories: Haredi (commonly translated as “ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) or Hiloni (“secular”)."

"Although they live in the same small country and share many traditions, highly religious and secular Jews inhabit largely separate social worlds, with relatively few close friends and little intermarriage outside their own groups. In fact, the survey finds that secular Jews in Israel are more uncomfortable with the notion that a child of theirs might someday marry an ultra-Orthodox Jew than they are with the prospect of their child marrying a Christian. (See Chapter 11.)"

"Moreover, these divisions are reflected in starkly contrasting positions on many public policy questions, including marriage, divorce, religious conversion, military conscription, gender segregation and public transportation. Overwhelmingly, Haredi and Dati Jews (both generally considered Orthodox) express the view that Israel’s government should promote religious beliefs and values, while secular Jews strongly favor separation of religion from government policy."


Study Notes:

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY - please see Appendix A, Methodology, in the survey research report for complete details.  Research Methodology section is on pages 230-236 of report.

Pew Research Center completed 5,601 face-to-face interviews with non-institutionalized adults ages 18 and older living in Israel between Oct. 14, 2014, and May 21, 2015.  The sample included interviews with 3,789 Jews, 871 Muslims, 468 Christians and 439 Druze, while an additional 34 respondents belong to other religions or are religiously unaffiliated.

Five groups were oversampled as part of the survey design: (1) Jews living in the West Bank, (2) Haredim, (3) Christian Arabs, (4) Arabs living in East Jerusalem and (5) Druze.

Face-to-face paper and pencil interviews were conducted at the respondent's place of residence under the direction of Public Opinion and Marketing Research of Israel (PORI).Households were selected via a random-route procedure. Within a household, interviewers selected the respondent who had the most recent birthday. At every address, up to five calls were made to complete an interview with the chosen respondent. Attempts to contact the respondent were carried out on different days and hours, unless the chosen respondent, or another person (household member, neighbor, etc.), suggested a specific time to return for an interview.  

Sampling was conducted through a multi-stage stratified area probability sampling design based on national population data available through the Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics’ 2008 census.

The questionnaire was designed by Pew Research Center staff in consultation with advisers to the project. The questionnaire was translated into Hebrew, Russian and Arabic; these translations were independently verified by professional linguists conversant in regional dialects and pretested prior to fieldwork.

Data were weighted to account for different probabilities of selection among respondents. Where appropriate, data also were weighted through an iterative procedure to more closely align the samples with official population figures for gender, age and education [post-stratification]. The reported margins of sampling error and the statistical tests of significance used in the analysis take into account the design effects due to weighting and sample design.

Questionnaire design. The questionnaire was divided into six sections. The first section included introductory questions and general questions which were asked of all respondents. The questionnaire then branched into four different sections – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze. The final section asked demographic questions of all respondents.

All respondents who took the survey in Russian or Hebrew were branched into the Jewish questionnaire.  However, not all respondents who took the questionnaire in Hebrew or Russian are classified as Jews in this study. For more details on the definition of religious groups used in this report, please see “How religious groups are defined” on page 11.

Arabic-speaking respondents were branched into the Muslim, Christian or Druze questionnaire based on their response to the religious identification question.

Sample design and weighting. Nationally representative surveys in Israel (and in the Israel Census) are usually broken down by ethnicity: a Jewish (including non-Jews but no Arabs) and an Arab portion. Pew Research Center’s survey was designed to achieve a nationally representative sample of both ethnicities – Jews and Arabs. The survey was also designed to obtain large enough samples for analysis of key religious groups – Jews, Haredim, Muslims, Arab Christians and Druze – as well as of key regions – Jews living in the West Bank and Arabs living in East Jerusalem. To do so, the sample design included separate base samples of the two ethnic groups, Jews and Arabs, as well as oversamples of Arab Christians, Druze, Haredim, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

See the Research methodology Appendix to the report for additional details on sampling, oversampling, weighting, and details on potential sampling error, 

Response Rate and Margin of Error.  Table on top section of page 233 of the report shows the total, unweighted sample size and associated margin of sampling error [MOE] for each subgroup. For the 3,789 Jewish interviews, for example, the margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 2.9%, while for the 871 Muslim interviews, the MOE is +/- 5.6%.  Higher potential sampling error rates exist for Christian respondents (+/- 9.1%) and Druze respondents (+/- 10.7%).

Among the Jewish sample, MOEs are +/-  3.9% for Hilonim, +/- 4.8% for Masortim, +/- 6.9% for both Datiim and Haredi...compared to the overall +2.9% for all Jewish respondents.

The second table on page 233 provides survey response rates.  The overall response rate for this survey is 57%. The response rate for different groups included in this survey vary somewhat, but are generally clustered within the range of 50% to 70%.

Finally, the methodology report includes a discussion of possible mode effect considerations in comparing the results for American and Israeli Jews, since the U.S. data are based on telephone interviews and the Israeli Jewish interviews are face-to-face, similar to the model used in the 1970 National Jewish Population Survey in the United States.

After reviewing data from multiple studies, the Pew authors conclude that while it is important for the reader to be aware that differences observed in this study between American and Israeli respondents might be affected by the mode of interview, "...these effects should be considered minimal and most likely do not drive the results i in this report."

Language: Arabic, English, Hebrew


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