Israeli belief in God on the rise

Friday, January 27, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Even as Israel becomes increasingly liberal (see recent report on Tel Aviv being rated top gay travel destination), it is also becoming increasingly religious, or, perhaps more accurately, increasingly God-fearing.

A survey conducted by the Guttman-Avi Chai Foundation in 2009, and whose results were finally published on Thursday after more than two years of analysis, revealed that over 80 percent of Israeli Jews believe in God. The Guttman-Avi Chai Foundation started conducing this survey over two decades ago. The 2009 poll registered by far the highest level of belief in God yet.

Furthermore, over 70 percent of Israeli Jews accept the biblical principle that the Jewish people have been "chosen" by God for a specific prophetic destiny. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they want increased biblical studies in Israeli schools.

But that doesn't mean Jews in general are becoming more religious, at least not in an Orthodox Jewish way. Only 37 percent of Israeli Jews had a problem with fellow Jews not following the biblical commandments, and nearly 70 percent said they want more entertainment venues to be open on the Shabbat.

The numbers coincide with other recent findings and observations suggesting that Israelis are increasingly hungry for a deeper spiritual life. It also highlights the growing rift in the nation, as one portion of Israelis moves closer to God and the Bible, while the other clings ever more tightly to Western liberal humanism.

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