Census

Q: Is it permissible to participate in the population census?
A: It is true that it is forbidden to count Jews but the Chief Rabbis of Israel already ruled that in the first population census in Israel that it is permissible since we are not counting Jews but pieces of paper. When they needed to count Jews in the Temple, they counted fingers (Yoma 22b). When a commander needs to count soldiers in the army, he does not count soldiers but helmets. Even though it is a life-threatening situation and counting them would be permissible, since if a soldier is missing it is extremely dangerous, he still counts helmets. During fieldtrips, the teacher counts hats or each kid says a number and he counts the numbers. During the census, we count pieces of paper.