Christmas tree in Jerusalem
Christmas tree in JerusalemFlash 90

With 2019 only a week away, a new study by the Jewish People Policy Institute found that the overwhelming amount of Israelis do not join their counterparts around the world in celebrating New Year's Eve and Christmas.

The survey is the result of a project led by Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at the Institute and Professor Camil Fuchs. A new book based on this project titled 'Israeli Jewry, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution' was published a few weeks ago by the Dvir publishing house.

The research shows that the annual brouhaha in Israel regarding the public displays of Christmas trees should not fool anyone. For most Jews in Israel, the holiday season falls in the Jewish month of Tishrei, not in December. Only 2% of the Jews in Israel indicate that on the New Year they do "self-examination" and only 6% say they feel "this is my real New Year."

The New Year is, of course, not only time (as mentioned, not utilized) for soul-searching. It's also time for parties. The New Year is celebrated around the world, and there are those who celebrate in Israel as well. According to the survey, one in five Israeli Jews (20%) celebrates the New Year. Of those without children, especially young people, the percentage rises to 34%, about a third of all Israeli Jews.

There are significant gaps between how religious and secular Israelis view the holiday season. While almost 25% of secular Israelis mark the holiday season, only 6% of people self-identifying as religious do. However, Israelis defining themselves as "liberally-religious" celebrate the holiday season at rates equal to their secular counterparts.