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2019 Annual Assessment

Israeli Judaism is unique to a place and to a time. An amalgamation of tradition and nationality. In many cases it is very hard – maybe impossible – to determine where the Jew ends and the Israeli begins, or where the Israeli ends and the Jew begins.

To reach this conclusion, we scanned many thousands of data points and utilized several methodologies of statistical analysis. Our most telling model was locating the Jews of Israel on a graph with two dimensions – one for tradition, one for nationality. We used 32 questions from the survey to create a map (if you are an Israeli, we invite you to answer these 32 questions here). If a Jew lights candles on Friday night, they get a point for tradition. If they shop on Shabbat, they get a point for non-tradition.

We measure points of Jewish tradition, such as keeping Shabbat laws, and we measure behaviors of Israeli nationalism, such as raising the Israeli flag on Independence Day. Those who raise it get a point for nationalism. Those who say that Israel should not be a Jewish but rather a neutral civil state (about 9 percent of the Jewish population), get a point for non-nationalism.

Our map shows a Jewish population unequally divided into four groups. The majority is the group of “Jewraelis” – that is, Jews who score high on both keeping Jewish traditions and on keeping national practices. Here is one example of what such Jews look like: 38 percent of Jewish Israelis raise the flag on Independence Day (nationalism) and make Kiddush on Friday nights (tradition) and say that it is important for them to be Jewish (level of intensity). The percentage of Jewish Israelis who don’t make Kiddush and don’t raise the flag and say it’s not important for them to be Jewish is much smaller – 8 percent.

So, we have four groups: those practicing tradition and nationality (“Jewraelis,” the 55 percent majority); those who mostly practice nationality (15 percent we call “Israelis” in the book, who tend to come from the secular quarters of the old-fashioned Labor Party Zionists and whose culture is relatively devoid of keeping Jewish traditions); those who practice mostly Jewish traditions and many fewer Israeli customs (17 percent we call “Jews,” who are mostly Haredi Israelis); and those who, relatively speaking, practice neither (13 percent we call “Universalists” – urban, liberal, left leaning and often alienated from other Israelis).

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