Judaism Attracts Israeli Youth

A survey of nearly 2,900 Jewish youths from around the country finds that 85% feel it’s important to maintain religion and tradition.

Hillel Fendel ,

Judaism reaching out
Judaism reaching out
Israel news photo: Rosh Yehudi

A survey of nearly 2,900 Jewish youths from around the country finds that 85% feel it is important to maintain religion and tradition.

The poll was carried out by TGI (Target Group Index) Israel, of the global TGI network of single-source market research surveys, on 2,897 young Israelis between the ages of 18 and 35. It was commissioned by L’Omek HaTodaah (To the Depth of Awareness), a public relations firm targeting youth.

The survey turned up some surprising results, especially for those who are disappointed by what appears to be an increasingly secular society. Over 71% said they plan to fast on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and 73% define “religious faith” as something “very important.”

In addition, 84.3% say it’s important to maintain religion and tradition, while nearly 60% make sure to separate meat and dairy products. Kissing the mezuzah – Torah passages affixed to the doorpost – is more popular than might be assumed; 38.5% practice this custom.

Three out of every seven – 43% - say they feel more Jewish than Israeli, and 40.4% say that bars, theaters, and the like should be closed on the Sabbath.

Ziv Poplevsky, Chairman of L’Omek HaTodaah, explained, “Despite the permissiveness and adventurousness of Israeli youth, it appears that many of them believe that there is a Jewish tradition that must be maintained and accepted… It’s part of a recent trend that we call ‘pro-religion.’ We see many performers, from Madonna to Evyatar Banai, who pull the crowds in this direction.”

Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau attributes more significance to the findings. “I sense an increasing interest in the treasures of Judaism on the part of youth that did not grow up in the lap of Torah… Instead of grazing in foreign pastures in India, Nepal and Latin America, many of the youth are finding their way to the Jewish bookshelf and tradition.”

Rabbi David Stav of the Tzohar Rabbis Organization, and rabbi of the city of Shoham, said, “We all see that there is a thirst for Judaism among the public. When I gave a talk to the public high school in Shoham, 90% of the students raised their hands when I asked who would fast on Yom Kippur – and when I asked if their parents would fast as well, far fewer hands were raised.”

“There might be many reasons for this awakening,” said Rabbi Stav, “including disappointment in the State institutions, disillusionment from the idols of silver and gold, or maybe even because the idols themselves returned to Judaism… But in the end there is one very simple root cause: G-d’s promise that the soul will not go to waste, and will always try to awaken and rouse sparks among each of us. We are happy to be in this generation that sees this happen.”