'Every fourth secular Israeli fasts each Yom Kippur'

By JONAH MANDEL
September 14, 2010 20:12

CBS yearly Social Survey also reveals that only 6% of Jews in Israel say they observe no Jewish traditions.

2 minute read.



Ultra-kosher for ultra-Orthodox.

haredim kosher food 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Every fourth secular Israeli will be fasting this coming Yom Kippur, as in previous years, and a similar number said they will attend a synagogue service on either Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashana, according to new data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics at the beginning of the week.

The CBS conducts its Social Survey every year, composed of permanent core questions and a section that changes each time to examine a different aspect of Israeli society. The annual topic of the 2009 survey was “Jewish tradition observances and changes in religiosity of the Jewish population in Israel.”

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According to the survey, the Jewish population of Israel aged 20 and above is eight percent haredi, 12% religious, 13% traditionalreligious, 25% traditional not-soreligious and 42% secular, by the respondents’ self-definitions.

Jews in Israel keep the Jewish tradition to a large extent, with only 6% saying they keep tradition in no form. Some 72% of the Jews in Israel went to a synagogue at least once in 2009. Among the secular respondents, 86% said that they keep the Jewish tradition in some way.

Yom Kippur, Pessah and Hanukka are the holidays most observed in some form by secular and traditional Israelis, while 52% of those households light Shabbat candles.

Fasting on Yom Kippur is observed every year by 26% of those defining themselves as secular, and 24% attend services on either that day, on Rosh Hashana or both.

Some 82% of irreligious Israelis attend a Pessah seder, and 48% of them observe kashrut during the holiday, compared to 33% during the rest of the year. Hanukka candles are lit in 67% of the secular households.

Factors like education and environment most commonly prompt changes in an individual’s observance level, the survey shows.

Nearly one of every five respondents (21%) told the CBS that they were currently more religious than they were in the past. Thirty-four percent of this segment attributed the change to learning and acquiring new knowledge. Another 27% said that they were influenced by their family or surroundings, and for 15%, the change was influenced by their partner. Fourteen percent said that a personal crises caused them to be more devout.

Religious adherence can diminish as well. Some 14% said that they were currently less religious than in the past. The most prevalent factor to incur that shift is the influence of family or environment (29%), while 26% said that learning and acquiring new knowledge were at the root of it.

The personal crisis factor (13%) and partner (11%) were further down among reasons for losing religion.

Over 5% of the Jewish populace over 20, constituting 200,000 people, define themselves by the rather flexible term of hozrim bitshuva (newly observant) – of them 22% were haredim, 17% religious and 9% traditional-religious. Education was the overwhelmingly dominant reason for the lifestyle change (49%) within this sector, though another 17% attributed the shift to personal crisis. As far as their upbringing, most hozrim bitshuva respondents said they were raised in traditional-religious homes (33%), followed closely by 29% who grew up secular.


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