Poll Shows Ranks of Secular Jewish Minority in Israel Continued to Drop in 2009

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Just 42 percent of the Jewish population defines itself as secular, according to a socioeconomic poll commissioned by the Central Bureau of Statistic in 2009.

The findings, which were released yesterday, show that 8 percent of Israeli Jews view themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 12 percent characterize themselves as religious, 13 percent are religiously observant, and 25 percent adhere to traditional custom but are not religiously observant.

Since 2004, there has been an increase in the number of religious and religiously observant Jews, while the proportion of secular Jews has fallen. That year, 44 percent of the Jewish population in Israel saw itself as secular.

For the non-Jewish population, the CBS chose to employ a different set of classifications to describe the extent of religious adherence. Among the Arab population, 18 percent described themselves as not religious, 27 percent said there were not very religious, 47 percent answered they were religious, and 8 percent replied that they were very religious.

The annual poll lists data on the living conditions of the adult population in Israel. It gauges indices in the areas of housing, health, education, employment and economic status.

The study, which was conducted last year, included interviews with 7,500 individuals 20 years and up, representing 4.7 million people in Israel today.

According to the poll, 80 percent of those living in Israel are Jewish, 13 percent are Muslim, 3 percent are Christian, and the rest are Druze, atheists, or unaffiliated.

While there are no significant gaps between men and women as to the extent of religious observance among Jews, this is not so with Arabs. While 55 percent of Arab women consider themselves religious as opposed to 38 percent of men, 11 percent of Arab women say they are very religious in contrast with just 6 percent of Arab men.

The percentage of the Jewish population between the ages of 20 and 29 that defines itself as ultra-Orthodox stands at 14 percent. Just two percent of Jews over the age of 65 views itself as ultra-Orthodox.

Among religiously observant Jews, there are no significant discrepancies between various age groups. In contrast, 87 percent of Arabs over the age of 65 said they are religious while 44 percent of Arabs in their 20s said the same.

The poll also found that 93 percent of secular Jewish men and a similar percentage of religiously observant are in the workforce, while 52 percent of ultra-Orthodox men work. Meanwhile, 61 percent of ultra-Orthodox women and 88 percent of secular women have jobs.

Among the religiously observant population, 80 percent of women work. Of the women who view themselves as religious, 83 percent participate in the workforce.