In this Annual Assessment we have retained the common Hebrew terms (transliterated in English) utilized in Israel to categorize population suubgroups based on lifestyle vis-a-vis Judaism and the degree of observance of religious practices: Haredi, Dati, Masorati, and Hiloni.
We have done so because the cognate English terms, such as “secular” or “religious” do not, in our view, fully capture the connotations of the Hebrew terms in the Israeli context.
Hiloni (pl. Hilonim) is generally translated as “secular.” However, this is somewhat misleading insofar as 60 percent of Hilonim believe in God and similarly significant percentages observe particular religious practices. Hiloni does describe Israelis who observe a fewer number of religious practices than Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox or Traditionist Jews, and most importantly, whose religion does not define their Jewishness.
Masorati (pl. Masoratiim) is generally translated as “traditional.” Here we have translated it as “traditionist,” in order to denote it as a separate and distinct lifestyle. It refers to one who selectively keeps many of the religious practices but is not committed to a fully Halachic, Orthodox lifestyle. Many Masoratiim, despite their selective observance, accept Orthodox Judaism as the authentic and authoritative version of the religion. (See Yaacov Yadgar, Secularism and Religion in Israeli Politics: Traditionists and Modernity, Routledge, 2010.)
Dati (pl. Datim) is generally translated as “religious” and connotes the Religious- Zionist or National-Religious population. In its variations – “Liberal Dati” or “Torani-Dati” it refers to particular segments of the Religious-Zionist population – either the very liberal or the very conservative wing respectively.
Haredi (pl. Haredim) is generally translated as Ultra-Orthodox. In the Israeli context it refers to the population whose males generally do not serve in the Israeli military, because they receive a Torah study deferment. About half of the male Haredi population works. The other portion studies Torah full time.