Russian Jews show support for Israel
Russian Jews show support for IsraelFlash 90

Immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel are overwhelmingly secular, notes a new Pew Research Center poll, but their children are increasingly embracing religion.

A new Pew study released on Wednesday reaffirmed what has become common knowledge in Israel – that immigrants from Russia and other ex-Soviet states are far more likely to be secular than other Israelis.

While 49% of Israeli Jews as a whole identified as secular, 81% of immigrants from the former USSR identified as such.

According to the study, while 36% of Israeli Jews believe the government should actively promote Judaism, only 12% of Jews from the former Soviet Union agreed. Similarly, while 29% of all Israeli Jews favor the establishment of Jewish traditional law as the basis of the State of Israel, only 8% of FSU Jews concur.

In terms of personal religiosity, a similar pattern can be seen. While 77% of all Israeli Jews believe in God, only 55% of FSU Jews do. Compared to 63% of all Israeli Jews who keep kosher at home, only 24% of Jews from the ex-Soviet Union do.

Israeli Jews as a whole are more than twice as likely to light Shabbat candles and Hannukah candles, and nearly three times as likely to keep kosher outside of their home.

Second-generation FSU immigrants, however, are far more likely than their parents to be actively connected to religion. A full 70% believe in God, 15 points higher than their parent’s generation and only 7 points less than Israeli Jews as a whole.

Children of FSU immigrants are also almost as likely as Israel Jews as a whole to keep kosher at home, or to light Hannukah or Shabbat candles.

Compared to 81% of FSU immigrants who identified as secular, only 60% of second-generation FSU immigrants viewed themselves as secular. And children of FSU immigrants were far more likely to become haredi, with 14% of second generation FSU immigrants identifying as such, compared to only 4% of their parent’s generation.