Saturday, November 24, 2007

Israelis ARE connected to religion!

Some people, and much of the Israeli political elite and media like to think of Israel as a cosmopolitan, liberal, secular country. Well, in a recent study it is absolutely clear that a vast majority of Israelis have a significant connection to religion. (see the study here).

HaAretz put it this way:

Just 20 percent of Jews in Israel describe themselves as secular, according to a recent poll. Since the early 1970s, surveys that have measured Israeli Jews' affinity to tradition have fluctuated among various communities. But the recent figures represent a new low point for the secular community. For example, in 1974, the number of those describing themselves as secular stood at more than 40 percent. The new Democracy Index conducted by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute, is based on 1,016 interviews.

... (amongst the population those who claimes) some form of religious affiliation (Traditional, were) 93 percent of Mizrahim (sephardi Jews) and 64 percent of Ashkenazim.

I found another statistic fascinating. Of those BORN in Israel today, 85% stated that they have some connection to Judaism. Of those 36.7 say they are Dati, and 48.3 are Masorti (Traditional.)

To me, there is enormous potential here. anyone who sees Israelis as "secular" or devoid of religion is certainly making a mistake. However, we should also not get carried away here. Even the religious will be easily deterred with religious coercion, a bad religious educational system, religious role models that are corrupt. Without insistence upon a principled, moral, sensitive, loving and caring, rigorous and intelligent Judaism, religion will still lag far behind in the public consciousness.

Shavua Tov!

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