Believe in God 80%
Jews the Chosen people 70%
A Jew who doesn't follow the commandments endangers the Jewish People 37%
Have civil marriage 48%
Pubic life should be in accordance with Jewish religious tradition 61%
Support adding Jewish studies to secular public school 71%
Support opening cafes and restaurants on the Sabbath 68%
Support having sports events on the Sabbath 64%
In the event of a conflict between Jewish law and democratic principles:
20% Always prefer following Jewish law
44% Always preserve democracy
36% Sometimes one sometimes the other
What best describes your identity?
4% My ethnic group (Ashkenazi, Sefardi)
4% My religiosity (religious, secular)
Survey: Record number of Israeli Jews believe in God
First comprehensive study in a decade also shows 70 percent believe the Jews
are the 'Chosen People.'
By Nir Hasson Haaretz Published 01:07 27.01.12
Fully 80 percent of Israeli Jews believe that God exists - the highest
figure found by the Guttman-Avi Chai survey since this review of
Israeli-Jewish beliefs began two decades ago.
The latest survey of the "Beliefs, Observance and Values among Israeli Jews"
was conducted in 2009 but the results were released only on Thursday, after
a detailed analysis had been completed. The two previous surveys were in
1999 and 1991.
The study also found that 70 percent of respondents believe the Jews are the
"Chosen People," 65 percent believe the Torah and mitzvot (religious
commandments ) are God-given, and 56 percent believe in life after death.
Overall, the survey found an increase in attachment to Jewish religion and
tradition from 1999 to 2009, following a decrease from 1991 to 1999, which
was the decade of mass immigration from the former Soviet Union. Among other
things, it found that less than half of Israeli Jews think that, in a clash
between Jewish law and democracy, democratic values should always prevail.
The study, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute's Guttman Center for
Surveys and the Avi Chai Foundation, is based on interviews with 2,803
It found that only 46 percent of Israeli Jews now define themselves as
secular, down from 52 percent in 1999, while 22 percent define themselves as
either Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, up from 16 percent in 1999. The remaining
32 percent term themselves traditional, virtually unchanged from 1999.
This change in self-identification was also reflected in the proportion of
those subscribing to traditional Jewish beliefs. For instance, 55 percent
said they believe in the coming of the Messiah, up from 45 percent in 1999
but similar to 53 percent in 1991, while 37 percent said that "a Jew who
does not observe the religious precepts endangers the entire Jewish people,"
up from 30 percent in 1999 but again similar to the 1991 figure of 35
The study's authors cited two reasons for the rise in religiosity. One is
that immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who contributed to the drop in
religiosity from 1991 to 1999, have now assimilated into Israeli society.
Various studies have found that this process of assimilation has resulted in
Soviet immigrants becoming more traditional. The second reason is the
demographic change caused by the higher Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox
The survey found that, even when individuals were asked about how their own
attitudes had changed over the previous decade, the number of those that
said they felt more religious and were more careful about observing the
Sabbath and kashrut was higher than the number of those who said they had
become more secular.
The rise in religiosity was also reflected in attitudes toward other issues.
For instance, only 44 percent said that if Jewish law and democratic values
clashed, the latter should always be preferred, while 20 percent said Jewish
law should always be preferred and 36 percent said "sometimes one and
sometimes the other."
The study also found an upswing in religious practice. For instance, 85
percent of respondents said that "celebrating the Jewish holidays as
prescribed by religious tradition" was "important" or "very important," up
from 63 percent in 1999, while 70 percent said they "always" or "frequently"
refrained from eating hametz (leavened bread ) on Passover, up from 67
percent in 1999.
Fully 61 percent of respondents said the state should "ensure that public
life is conducted according to Jewish religious tradition," up dramatically
from 44 percent in 1991. But respondents also insisted on preserving their
freedom of choice. For instance, between 58 and 68 percent said that
shopping centers, public transportation, sporting events, cafes, restaurants
and movie theaters should be allowed to operate on Shabbat (exact figures
ranged from 58 percent for shopping centers to 68 percent for cafes,
restaurants and movie theaters ).
Moreover, 51 percent responded "yes," "absolutely yes" or "perhaps yes" when
asked if they favored the introduction of civil marriage in Israel. Those in
the first two categories, at 48 percent, were down from 54 percent in 1999
but up from 39 percent in 1991.