Survey: Israeli Jews classified as traditional
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 22, 2007
Jewish observance in Israeli society can be classified as traditional and this traditionalism has held steady over the past three decades, according to findings of a survey published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Thursday.
An examination of the data shows that the percentage of secular respondents ranges from 20% to 41% (and between 1976 and 2005, from 23% to 34%), with an average of 27%. The percentage of religious respondents varies between 19% and 36%, averaging 28%. The percentage of traditional respondents ranges from 38% to 50%, with an average of 44%.
A moderate rise was recorded in the percentage of religiously observant Jews, alongside a gradual erosion over the years in the percentage of secular Jews.
A moderate increase was also noted in the percentage of traditional Jews since the start of the 1990s: their numbers have climbed by an average of 12% in comparison with the first two decades analyzed. As of 2007, one fifth of the Israeli Jewish public defines itself as secular, one half as traditional, and one third as religious. In total, some 80% of interviewees reported some connection with religious observance.
The findings also indicate that the highest rate of religious observance is found among the Sephardim, and the lowest, among the Ashkenazim.
A total of 56% of Sephardim surveyed reported being religious, as opposed to 17% of Ashkenazim. By contrast, 37% of the Ashkenazim defined themselves as secular, as opposed to 7% of the Sephardim.
Cumulatively, 93% of the Sephardim reported some connection to religious tradition as opposed to only 64% of the Ashkenazim. Among native-born Israelis, roughly one half of the respondents define themselves as traditional, while the percentage identifying themselves as religious is 2.4 times that of the secular. Some 85% of the Israeli-born group reported some connection with religious tradition.
An examination of the data reveals a connection between age and level of religious observance among respondents who reported some connection with tradition. 39% of the young people identified themselves as religious, in contrast with 20% of the seniors and 32% of the middle-aged. Of the respondents who reported some connection to tradition, 47% of the young people classified themselves as religious, as opposed to 41% of the middle-aged and 26% of the seniors. By contrast, 44% of the young people surveyed defined themselves as traditional, as opposed to 46% of the middle-aged and 57% of the seniors. Only one fifth or less of the respondents in all age groups reported being secular.
Cumulatively, 83% of the young people report some connection to tradition, compared with 77% of both the middle-aged group and the seniors, respectively. Among native-born Israelis, roughly one half of the respondents define themselves as traditional, while the percentage identifying themselves as religious is 2.4 times that of the secular.
The findings further show that the proportion of religiously observant Jews is highest in the two groups with lower levels of education, and lowest in the group with post-secondary education: 41% of the group who did not complete high school reported being religious, compared with 37% from the group with a high school education and only 24% of those with a post-secondary education. By contrast, 26% of those with a post-secondary education identified themselves as secular, as opposed to 20% of the group that did not complete high school.
A correlation was recorded between religious observance and political identification with the Right. And conversely, there was a correlation between non-observance of tradition and political identification with the Left.
Among the adult Jewish population in Israel, 18% of respondents reported that they identify with the political Left, 27% with the Center, and 55% with the Right. Examination of the data when broken down by religious observance reveals that 71% of religious respondents identify with the Right, as opposed to 49% of the traditional group, and 43% of the secular. By contrast, only 8% of the religious respondents reported identifying with the Left as compared with 21% of the traditional group and 27% of the secular.
The research was conducted by Eliyahu Sapir based on the Israeli Democracy Institute's democracy index, overseen by Professor Asher Arian. 1,016 people, representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel, participated.