Israel’s Channel 2 News and polling service Sample Project Panel, directed by Dr. Ariel Ayalon, have published a survey that may change everyone’s long-held assumptions about the divide between religious and secular in Israel. The survey questioned 500 Jewish Israeli respondents ages 18 to 64, and here is what they had to say regarding a variety of Jewish-related issues:
70.6 percent don’t eat pig’s meat.
66 percent believe in God. 20 percent believe in a higher power, but prefer not to use the G word. Out of those who identified themselves as secular, only 27 percent said they don’t believe in God.
55.5 percent have participated in separating the challah.
53.1 percent were married at the chief rabbinate.
51.4 percent of women, including secular women, maintain a modest appearance. Out of that group, 28 percent wear their skirts below the knees, 16 percent below the ankle, and 56 percent wear pants.
49.5 percent fast on Yom Kippur.
45.2 percent perform Kiddush on Friday night.
43.2 percent light Shabbat candles.
37.7 percent don’t drive on Shabbat.
38 percent keep family purity (avoiding sex during the menstrual period). Incidentally, of the respondents who defined themselves as religious, 9 percent say they do not observe family purity.
36.5 percent attend synagogue services on holidays.
29.6 percent keep kosher.
According to the survey, Israel is definitely becoming more religious. Younger Israelis are more religious than their elders: 80 percent of respondents ages 18-24 believe in God, compared with 57.5 percent of ages 55-64. And 25.9 percent of young Israelis say they are religious, compared with 11.5 percent of the older generation.
In fact, only Israelis ages 35 and up are majority secular, whereas among ages 24-34 only 48.8 percent say they are secular, and among ages 18-24 only 37.6 percent are secular. Out of the younger age group, 50.6 percent observe Shabbat, compared with 16.1 percent of their elders. 47.1 percent of the younger group keep kosher, compared with 21.8 percent of the older group. 22.4 percent of the younger Israelis attend synagogue on Shabbat, compared with 14.9 percent of older Israelis.
In fact, the only area where older Israelis are more traditional than their children is modesty.
On intermarriage, 65 percent of all Israelis say they would not consider marrying a non-Jew. Among the secular, 42 percent would not intermarry.
In some areas, however, Israelis are still more secular than religious: 62 percent of Israelis drive on Shabbat, and 64 percent use their phones on Shabbat.