#IsraeliJudaism: Find Your Place

Who cares about Yom Yerushalayim?
Nearly three of every four Israeli Jews say Jerusalem Day, as far as they are concerned, is "just a regular day", as learned from the data collected in the Jewish People Policy Institute's (JPPI) Israeli-Judaism research project. It is primarily the religious sectors (which constitute three groups in this survey: liberal-religious, national-religious and zionist-Haredi) that observe Jerusalem Day through various activities. Over half display the Israeli flag on Jerusalem Day, a significant portion recite the Hallel prayer, and a third attend a "celebration, parade or ceremony." Among secular Israeli Jews, only a small minority partake in events commemorating Jerusalem Day; 4% of those who self-define as "totally secular," and about 8% of those who self-define as "secular- traditional." Only one in ten "totally secular" Jews – a third of all Israeli Jews – displays a flag on Jerusalem Day. As a point of comparison, on Independence Day, over half of "totally secular" Jews display the Israeli flag (53%). Jerusalem Day was declared a national holiday after the Six-Day War, and thus continues to be inextricably linked to controversial political events. This year, Jerusalem Day has aroused additional interest as a result of the official U. S. decision to move its embassy to Israel’s capital city and the ceremonies and other events that will mark the occasion. This is certainly one of the reasons why this holiday remains sectoral in nature, as it is one of many symbols that points to the close connection between religious affinity and political consciousness in Israeli Jewish society. This is a holiday observed by the right far more than the left.

As anyone even slightly familiar with Israeli society knows, religious group affiliation in Israel is expressed in several ways, not just through faith and a set of religious practices, but also through political disposition. The data collected as part of the Israeli-Judaism research project show the extent religiosity and political affiliation go hand in hand on the practical level and in terms of Personal identity. An example of this can be seen in the answers to one of the survey’s questions: Do Israeli Jews believe that being Jewish means settling all of Greater Israel (the question was presented in two ways, the first: “being a good Jew means settling all of Greater Israel”; and the second: “being Jewish means settling all of Greater Israel” – results for the two wordings were very similar and thus combined in a single graph) Out of the entire Jewish-Israeli population, we found that a slight majority believes that there is a close connection between being a good Jew and supporting the settlement of all of Greater Israel (The term “greater Israel” refers to the ideology supportive of settling Judea and Samaria – the West Bank. 53% said they recognize this connection "greatly" or "very greatly"). However, notable gaps between societal sectors on this question are evident. The graph above shows that the two groups whose answers were most divergent from each other were the "religious" and the "totally secular." A clear majority of the secular group does not believe that Judaism demands supporting the settlement of Greater Israel, while a firm majority of the religious population does believe that Judaism demands supporting that enterprise. Additional groups without majority support the connection between Judaism and settling Greater Israel were the secular-traditional (exactly 50%) and Haredim (44%). Additional groups that did identify a connection were: traditional (69%), liberal religious (73% - these are mostly liberal Orthodox Jews), and national Haredi (83%).

The Jewish People Policy Institute's Israeli Judaism project is headed by Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow of the institute, and Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, who is responsible for the survey and statistical analysis. Noah Speklov, a JPPI fellow, helped analyze the data, which was based on two rounds of questionnaires: the first round surveyed 2000 Israeli Jews and the second round included an additional 1000 respondents. This representative sample represents of Israel’s Jewish population the sampling error (based on all 3000 respondents) was 1.8%; for questions with fewer respondents, it grew accordingly.