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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Secular Jews In Israel Are Better Educated & More Affluent

An official survey in Israel has shown that 44 per cent of Jews in the country over the age of 20 define themselves as “secular”. Twenty-seven per cent said they were “traditional”, 12 per cent as “traditionally observant”, 9 per cent as “orthodox” and 8 per cent as ultra-orthodox covering 2002–2004.

The Central Bureau of Statistics social survey found that Jews who define themselves as secular have the greatest incidence of higher education – 32 percent. Native Israelis of European or North American origin were most secular (63% of these), compared to 33 percent among native Israelis of Asian origin, and 25 percent of native Israelis of African origin. Religiosity among the immigrants who came in the 1990s and onward is low compared to that of Israeli-born Jews.

In 2004, 81 percent of Israel’s population defined itself as Jewish; 12 percent as Muslim; 3.5 percent as Christian (both Arab and non-Arab); 1.5 percent as Druze; 1.5 percent as atheist; and another 0.5 percent as members of other religions. This shows that of those who define themselves as “secular” also ticked the “atheist” box. Presumably many of them instead ticked the ambiguous “Jewish” box.

Among the Arab population, 11 percent defined themselves as very religious; 49 percent as religious; 21 percent as not so religious; and only 18 percent as not religious at all. Predictably, the lower the degree of religiosity, the higher the rate of Arab women of working age who are employed – from 5 percent among the very religious to 36 percent among the non-religious. The rate of Arab women in full-time jobs among the non-religious is 12 times higher than among the very religious – 25 percent compared to 2 percent.

Among Israel’s Christians, 32 percent defined themselves as not religious, compared to 48 percent of Druze. The survey did not find any striking difference in the degree of religiosity of Jewish men and women, whereas in other religions the women tend to be much more religious.

See also: Survey shows students in America becoming less religious, and convinced that religion should stay out of politics


Published Fri, 14 Apr 2006