God exits – a portrait of Israeli Jews
Beyond the fact that it has one of the cutest typos in the Jewish world, the latest Guttman-Avi Chai report into the beliefs, observance, and values of Israeli Jews has much to teach us.
An overwhelming 80% of Israeli Jews believe that God exists (or is that “exits”?), and 67% believe that Jews are the Chosen People. Some more secular anti-religious commentators (who make up only 3% of the population, apparently) have found this worrying, though the survey did not explore people’s interpretations of what being a Chosen People may mean.
Democracy and Judaism
Most Jews in Israel 73% believe that Judaism and Democracy are not mutually exclusive, while an overwhelming 85% believe that Haredim should be drafted into the army. Coming back in the other direction, 34% fear that Jews who do not observe orthodox religious precepts “endanger the entire Jewish People”.
With regards Israeli Jews’ relationship to the Jewish world, we would point out a few interesting details.
Any heterogeneous Jewish community around the world would be over the moon to find that 90% of the community see Seder Night as important, 60% make kiddush on a Friday night, and even 20% study the night away on Shavuot. Who says that diaspora Jews have nothing in common with Israeli Jews?
Auguring less happiness in the direction of Israel-Diaspora relations would be the resonant number 48 – the minority percentage of people who accept non-orthodox conversions.
Similar cause for future concern may also be the way in which Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist denominations are not on the list of self-definitions. 54% are Haredi, Orthodox, and Traditional (not the same as Conservative, however it may translate!) while the rest are simply secular – differentiated only by the degree to which they dislike the religious.
As headlines fly in the Jewish and Israeli media, pulling out choice excerpts from the report, we encourage you to look at the research yourselves, and share with us your insights.