More Alike than We Realize

When the news day is boring, the journalists like to spice things up by focussing on our differences. After all, you can always find some story about Jews fighting amonst themselves, and sometimes it makes for great copy.

So it is easy to forget, at least in Israel, that we have more in common with our fellow countrymen than we think.

This study shows that we believe in many of the same things, even if our behavior is not exactly the same. I was surprised and pleased at some of the findings. Even though “only” 22% of Israelis define themselves as “religious” (7% Charedi and 15% religious), 80% believe in G-d and 65% believe that Torah and mitzvot are a divine order. 72% think that praying can improve a person’s situation, and 80% think that good deeds are rewarded.

The numbers of Israeli Jews who believe that it is extremely important to mark milestones in life with traditional Jewish ceremonies is very high. Brit milah (circumcision) gets 94%, shiva (the seven days of mourning) gets 92%, and 91% believe in bar mitzvah.

I find these statistics very reassuring.

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