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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Israelis want to take in Haitian families

Ynet-Yesodot survey shows most Israelis believe State should absorb devastated families from quake-stricken Caribbean country, 47% show willingness to adopt Haitian children
Published:  01.31.10, 15:05 / Israel Jewish Scene
After the closing of the Israeli field hospital in devastated Haiti and the imminent return of the aid mission - what is Israel's next step? The majority of the Israeli public believes that citizens should not adopt children who lost their parents in the earthquake as long as there are Jewish or Israeli orphans without a home.
 However, most Israelis think that the State should take in devastated families, a joint Ynet-Yesodot poll suggests.
The poll was conducted by Panels Institute on a sample representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel of 522 respondents. The maximum sampling error is 4.3%±.
According to the data, 94% of the public believe that the decision to send a rescue mission to Haiti was important. The majority based their answer on Israel's duty to save lives - 72%, while 22% explained it with the need to improve the State's international image.
 Only 6% said that the decision was a mistake and explained this by asserting that Israel must take care of its own needy first.
 Asked in case they were interested in adoption, whether they would consider adopting a Haitian orphan 53% replied negatively, 15% answered positively on condition of conversion to Judaism, whereas 32% replied an unconditional "yes."
Analyzing the responses according to religious affiliation shows that the ultra-Orthodox, religious and traditionalists on the whole ruled out any option of adopting children from Haiti (93%, 77% and 51% respectively) while 52% of seculars answered that they would regard it possible.
On the survey's third section participants were asked whether Israel, as a Jewish state, should take in families who have lost everything in the earthquake. Some 60% replied yes (44% unconditionally and 16% in a partial way so as to promote Israel's image) while the remaining 40% replied negatively.
Some 24% claimed that Israel must take care of its own poor first and 16% feared that the Jewish majority in the country would be compromised. The poll indicated that seculars and traditionalists were more inclined to answer positively (66% and 57% respectively) while the haredim and religious opposed (86% and 63% respectively).

'No distinction among sectors'
Yesodot director Shoshi Becker commented on the survey's findings and said, "The situation in Haiti is perceived as a catastrophe and we all, as Jews and as human beings, see the importance in offering aid. I am glad there is no distinction among the different sectors on this point.
On the other hand, it appears that the issue of conversion is troubling the public. It does not completely prevent the willingness to adopt Haitian orphans but people definitely want to see a solution - also on the national level – which would make it easy for them to take that humane step.
 "I would expect a statement from the Chief Rabbinate or other rabbinical elements on this issue – a call to mitigate conversion terms or any statement regarding the refugees' halachic status in this special situation. "

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