A full 84 percent of Israelis believe in God, a new study has shown, and that number is on the rise.
The Guttman Center of the Israel Democracy Institute has released a new a study on the beliefs, observance, and values of Israeli Jews, their third such study over the course of three decades, and the results show that religious beliefs in Israel are varied, complex, and perhaps most importantly, going strong.
The study, which will be made public at Beit Avi Chai this coming weekend, consisted of quizzing 2,803 Israel adults about their religious beliefs and levels of observance. A full 84 percent of respondent professed a belief in God, 76% of Israeli Jews eat kosher at home; 70% believe that the Jews are the chosen people; and 61% think the state of Israel should ensure that public life is conducted according to Jewish religious tradition.
The picture that emerged from the survey, however, was also a complex one. Despite the above statistics, more than 60% support holding sports events and cultural activities on the Sabbath, 58% support operating public transport and shopping centers on Sabbath, and 51% favor instituting civil marriage.
Research was conducted under the leadership of the late Professor Asher Arian, and Ayala Keissar-Sugarmen handled the analysis and report. Keissar-Sugarmem will personally present the findings Sunday, with the help of Professor Tamar Herman.
Similar studies were carried out in both 1991 and 1999. "Taken together, the three surveys present a unique continuum of Jewish religiosity in Israel," Vered Levy Yerushalmi of Beit Avi Chai said in a press release on Thursday.
During the time period between the first and second studies, from 1991 to 1999, attachment to Jewish tradition and religion in Israel dipped, but between 1999 and 2009, the period between the second and third studies, that commitment to Judaism returned and in some aspects even surpassed its earlier levels.
For example, consider the observance of religious tradition: The 1991 survey reported 24% of respondents saying they "observe religious tradition to a great extent;” that number was only 19% in 1999 but in 2009, had risen to 26%.
Other interesting statistics from the study include: the number of Israelis who say it is important to celebrate Jewish holidays, with 90% attesting to having a Passover seder and 82% saying they light Chanukah candles; the number of Jews in Israel -- 72% -- who say they never eat pork for religious reasons; and opinions about differing streams of Judaism, with 61% of Israeli Jews saying Reform and Conservative Judaism should have equal status with the Orthodox stream of Judaism.