Monday, April 10, 2006

A Skewered Survey

Haaretz reports the Central Statistics Bureau finding that 44% of the Jews in Israel define themselves as 'secular.' I am sure that's accurate. It is also deceptive in extremis. The word 'secular' (חילוני) bears two distinct meanings in contemporary parlance. 1) Ideologically secular, axiologically cosmopolitan and (usually) anti-Orthodox in some way 2) Non-Orthodox (for whatever reason), but interested in having a distinct, Jewish element in their lives.

According to the Guttmann Study, this 44% subdivides into 10-15% that belong to Group no. 1 and around 30% belonging to Group no. 2. In other words, as I've noted before, the important figures (as Israel struggles with its identity) are that fully 85% of the Jewish population want a distinctively Jewish State, while only 15% (a very vocal, media/academic/influential minority) want a cosmopolitan 'State of all its Citizens.'

Other studies back up this finding (despite the wishful thinking of the Haaretz staff and its Cafe pseudo-Intellectuals). Israelis overwhelmingly define themselves as Jews first and Israelis second. Israelis overwhelmingly believe in God. 99% of Israelis circumcise their children. 99% put mezuzot on their door(s). 95% attend a Seder (of some sort). 75% fast on Yom Kippur (and the 25% includes those too ill to fast). [On an anecdotal note, I wish I had NIS10 for every secular student who told me that they have come to respect and identify with Judaism, and that it's the rabbinate that turns them off.]



Soccer Dad said...

The shul I don't daven at is Orthodox or as Norman Podhoretz described his grandson's sentiments a few years ago:
Playing on the Hebrew word for "religious" (dati), secular Israelis call this building "the Datican," and though neither Alon himself nor the household in which he lives is at all observant, he has scorned the suggestion that his bar-mitzvah be celebrated in either the Reform or the Conservative synagogue, both of which are nearby and also very grand. So far as he, like most other Israelis, is concerned, Judaism is either Orthodox ("the real thing") or it is nothing. It is this-and not, as the Reform and Conservative leaders in America like to claim, discrimination against them by the government-that explains why these two movements have had so much difficulty in establishing a strong foothold in Israel. Alon may not return to a synagogue again for many years, if ever, and he is highly unlikely to become an observant Jew. But if his family wants him to have a bar-mitzvah, he (like his older brother before him) wants it to be "the real thing."

avib99 said...

If you can convince any of the secular students to embrace Orthodoxy in spite of the rabbinate, please feel free to send me a bill for NIS 10.

Jeffrey said...

My point is that they are open to being qualitatively Jewish. That is a major move. The Torah will, no doubt, do the rest.