Aug 17, 2014

Is Israel getting more or less religious?

We hear all the time from statistics and especially from organizations like Arachim and Rav Amnon Yitzchak's Shofar, among others, how the Israeli public is becoming more and more religious, how they are making serious inroads and the baal teshuva movement is sweeping through the country...

It makes me wonder regarding all the increased level of public chilul shabbos. In Jerusalem it is regularly increasing, in Tel Aviv we have all been following the attempts to officially open stores on Shabbos, but even before that stores have been open for a long time already.

 More and more places around the country are moving towards allowing shops to open on Shabbos. Now we have Hadera - the city council in Hadera just approved the opening of leisure type businesses to open on Shabbos. Restaurants and shops, only in the area near the coast, will be permitted to open for business.
source: Yediot via Kikar

So, which is it - is Israel getting more religious or more secular? Maybe it is not a contradiction - maybe Israel is getting more religious, while the shrinking secular community is getting more demanding and public? or maybe the claims are for fundraising purposes only but there really is not a major baal teshuva movement?

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  1. I think Israel is getting more religious, but the secular are more and more removed from Jewish tradition, so they see absolutely no reason to have any limitations on what they can do on Shabbos.

  2. We've had this convo b4 and I've shown you stats - my side is winning locally and globally.

    Here are some Israeli specific stats:
    Main article: Irreligion in Israel
    In Israel, around 50% of Israelis who were born ethnically Jewish consider themselves "secular" or hilonim, some of them still keep certain religious traditions for cultural reasons, but most are immersed within the secular Jewish culture. The number of atheists and agnostics is lower, and it stands at 15% to 37% respectively. The 2009 Avi-Chai study found 77% of Israeli Jews believe in a "higher power", while 46% define themselves as secular, of which 8% define themselves as "anti-religious".[74] Conversely, the Fridman report for 2007 found that less than 20% define themselves as secular—and only 5% as anti-religious.[75]

  3. On the whole Israel is more religious, but the secular in many cases are less connected and/or more ignorant of Judaism. A few decades ago, you didn't have BT celebrities at all. Now they are still in public light and all sorts of secular have religious children or grandchildren. Not all have it well publicized.

  4. Or maybe they're becoming more religious on their terms- they believe in God and all, but don't know why they can't watch TV or buy some milk on Shabbat.

  5. There are many children of the religious who are no longer observant. Some in secret, some in public.

  6. Reminds me of an old joke: God goes to his doctor and says: I used to be able to create a rock that I can't lift; but now I can't do it any more. Am I getting more or less omnipotent?


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