Poll: Fewer Than Half of Israelis See Themselves as Secular

Moti Bassok
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Moti Bassok

Eight percent of Jewish Israeli adults define themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 12 percent as religious, 13 percent as traditional-religious, and 25 percent as traditional but "not very religious," according to a survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics conducted last year and published yesterday.

Meanwhile, 42 percent of the Jewish population characterize themselves as secular, according to the poll, conducted among Jews over 20. Seventy-two percent said they had visited a synagogue over the previous year.

Among secular respondents, 24 percent reported that they had attended synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur or both. Among secular Jews, 26 percent said they had fasted on Yom Kippur, 17 percent build a sukkah and 82 percent regularly conduct a seder at Passover.

Central Bureau of Statistics 2009Credit: Central Bureau of Statistics 2009

Some 67 percent of secular respondents light Hanukkah candles and 29 percent light Shabbat candles. Ten percent of secular respondents kept kosher over the year and 22 percent observed Jewish dietary laws - kashrut - during Passover.

Among secular and traditional respondents, 52 percent light Shabbat candles at home but only 11 percent refrain from traveling by car on Shabbat. The rate of kashrut observance among the two groups collectively is 48 percent during Passover and 33 percent during the year as a whole.

Some 21 percent, which would amount to 790,000 Jewish Israelis, are more religious than they had been in the past. About 14 percent are less religious.

Among adult male Israelis, 23 percent go to synagogue daily, and 25 percent do so only on Shabbat and/or holidays, 11 percent on Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur and 16 percent on special occasions such as celebrations for memorial prayers. Meanwhile, 24 percent don't visit a synagogue at all.

Among women, 31 percent go to synagogue on Shabbat and/or holidays, 16 percent only on Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur, 18 percent only on special occasions and 32 percent not at all.