I've been saying for years that Masorti in Israel is a dynamic, growing movement. Now, we have solid proof, hidden in plain sight.
Would you believe that more Israelis self-identify as Masorti and Reform than say they are Haredim? What if I told you there is independent data that 30% of all Israeli Jews have been to a Masorti or Reform service?
Where does this information come from?
You may recall an end of January Guttman Center-AviChai report about religiosity and tradition in Israel. There were press reports trumpeting the news that 80% of Israeli Jews believe in God and 76% eat kosher at home.
What Guttman-AviChai did not tell us, and we might not have known but for some thorough reporting by Shmuel Rosner in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, was that 8% of Israeli Jews define themselves as Masorti (with a capital M) or Reform and only 7% say they are Haredi.
Lest you think there might be some ambiguity possible with the self-identity question, here is another one narrowly tailored and with no ambiguity:
"Did you ever attend/did not attend a service or religious ceremony in a Conservative or Reform synagogue?"
In response, 30% said they had attended. While most did so "rarely," it is still quite a significant number. I should also note that although I am a proponent of the use of "Masorti" rather than "Conservative," in this case the use of "Conservative" in the Hebrew removed any element of ambiguity about whether it was Masorti with a capital or lower-case mem.
One final note: the data collection for this survey was in 2009. Especially given the attention Masorti has garnered in the last two years, it would not be unrealistic to think the poll results would be even a bit more positive today.
Click here to read Rosner's report, "Can you believe it? Israel has more Conservative and Reform Jews than Haredi?" (February 23, 2012).
Of course, we still confront the fact the government provides more than $450 million a year to Orthodox programs and institutions and pays the salary of 3,000 or more Orthodox rabbis, while Masorti gets less than $50,000. Without your financial support, we cannot continue to make progress.
Please help us maintain the momentum. You may donate online at http://www.masorti.org/donate.php, or mail your check to us at: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832, New York, NY 10115-0122. In Canada, please visit http://www.masorti.ca/.
David H. Lissy Executive Director & CEO Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
To learn more, please contact: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832 New York, NY 10115-0068 (212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414 http://www.masorti.org/; firstname.lastname@example.org