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Most Israeli Jews back religious freedom, poll finds

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — A new poll finds that more than 80 percent of Israeli Jews support freedom of religion.

Some 83 percent of Israeli Jews said they support "ensuring freedom of religion and conscience," while another 60 percent back the separation of religion and state, according to a poll released Monday by Hiddush, a new Israeli organization supporting religious freedom and equality. Only 9 percent of fervently Orthodox respondents said they support freedom of religion, however.

The survey of 1,200 Israeli Jewish men and women was conducted by the Smith Research Institute over the summer to assess the sentiments of Israeli Jews on matters of religion and state. The results have a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

The research will serve as the basis for the establishment of the Israel Religion and State Index, according to the organization.

The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents support equal state funding for all Jewish denominations; 84 percent oppose military exemptions for yeshiva students; 92 percent of secular Jews support abolishing the Orthodox monopoly on marriage; and 62 percent support the operation of public transportation on Saturdays.

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