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WATCH: Are Haredi Israelis ‘Zionist’?

Most Israelis believe the ultra-Orthodox contribute little to Israel’s success. This, says Daniel Goldman, hurts Haredi Israelis (Video)
Shmuel Rosner with Daniel Goldman (screenshot)

“If it looks like a Zionist, and smells like a Zionist, and walks like a Zionist, then it’s probably a Zionist,” says Daniel Goldman about Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. Goldman is a businessman, philanthropist and activist, who currently focuses his attention on integrating Haredi Israelis into Israel’s economic life.

According to findings of surveys conducted by The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), a majority of Israelis rank Haredi Israelis at the bottom when asked about the contribution different groups or sectors make to Israel’s success. This, says Goldman, hurts Haredi Israelis. He believes that the Haredi community is undergoing “tectonic shifts.” He also believes that it has a lot of positive things it can contribute to Israel’s culture, such as “the values of family, the values of education, the values of helping one another.” JPPI studies show that Haredi Israelis are more prone than other Israelis to give Tzedakah and do volunteer work.

The dialogue with Goldman, which I am happy to present here, is the second in a series of conversations conducted with Israeli intellectuals, to discuss the findings and the analysis presented in a new book: #IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution. The book is based on the work of JPPI, and was coauthored by Shmuel Rosner, a JPPI senior fellow and Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. The English translation was published recently and provides us with an opportunity to both present the unique nature of Israeli Judaism to the broader world, and to discuss its future and the implications for world Jewry.

The discussion with Goldman focuses on the ultra-Orthodox community and the unique challenges it faces. In the coming weeks JPPI will present more conversations about Israeli traditionalism, secularity, nationality, pluralism and more. The first one, presented last week, featured Prof. Ruth Gavison in a conversation about Israeliness and Jewishness.

We invite TOI readers to try a short questionnaire prepared by Prof. Camil Fuchs. Once you have answered all the questions, you will be able to see where you are on the map of Israeli Judaism and compare yourself to Israeli Jews by political affiliation, religious affiliation, age and ethnicity (for the survey, click here). 

#IsraeliJudaism is a research project of The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent professional policy planning think tank incorporated as a private non-profit company in Israel (founded by JAFI). The mission of the Institute is to contribute to ensuring the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry. Located in Jerusalem, JPPI takes a global approach to the Jewish People and provides decision makers in Israel and the Diaspora with action-oriented policy recommendations.

About the Author
Avinoam Bar-Yosef is the President and the Founding Director of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute.