Survey: A Third Of Rabbis Afraid To Speak Honestly About Israel


A survey of 552 rabbis found that a third of them hesitate to speak honestly to their congregations regarding their feelings about Israel.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which aimed to ascertain to what degree rabbis were censoring themselves on the subject of Israel, conducted its study online in the spring of 2013.

The council and its researchers gathered its survey sample by drawing on its own mailing list and that of other organizations.

About three quarters of the resulting respondent pool is male and works in congregations; the median age is in the late fifties and most are Reform and Conservative, according to the study.

Of those in congregations, 80 percent are the senior rabbi, yet a third of them “testified to restraint, reluctance or repression of their true views,” the survey said. More than 18 percent said their private views were more “dovish;” 12 percent said they are “closet hawks.”

Whatever the rabbis’ policy opinions, however, the survey found that almost all of them are strongly attached to Israel. 88 percent have visited four times or more; almost all follow the news about Israel and 90 percent say that caring about Israel is “to a great extent”a n important part of their Jewish identity.

JCPA serves as a coordinating body for 14 national and 125 local partner agencies. Sociologist Steven M. Cohen and Rabbi Jason Gitlin conducted the survey.; @thesimplechild