Israel is ablaze. Weekly mass protests, widespread upheaval and social division, and chaos in the ranks of the IDF. At least that’s the way the mainstream media portrays the situation.
A prominent Israeli rabbi has a much different perspective informed by statistics the mainstream media is either ignoring, or can’t be bothered to highlight amid its reports of doom and gloom.
According to Rabbi Hagai Lundin, this is shaping up to be the best year since Israel’s rebirth in 1948 in terms of Israelis turning back to God.
In an op-ed published by the national religious press, Lundin noted that the coming Jewish year (beginning on Rosh Hashanah in mid-September) will see over 180,000 Israeli Jews formally studying Torah in recognized institutions across the country, a 6%-10% increase since the Corona pandemic.
And that’s not all.
“Yeshivas are filled to capacity, houses of Bible study for women are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, and for every open spot in IDF infantry brigades, there are eight graduates of religious pre-military preparatory courses ready to take it,” wrote the rabbi.
On top of that, he stressed that in contrast to the refusals to serve on the left-wing fringes of society, more and more young religious Jews are volunteering for military service, and an increasing number of ultra-Orthodox Jews are joining the workforce.
“According to the prophets of doom, the youth is crumbling, awash in smartphones, disobeying their parents and the institutions they grew up in, debating between clinical depression and leaving the country. But it turns out that reality, as always, is different from the media portrayal,” Lundin continued. “True, there are problems, and many; But there is something stronger – the desire for meaning, or what we call ‘closeness to God.'”
Israel has indeed been leaning ever more toward religious conservatism in recent decades. Rabbi Lundin says that today some 80% of Israeli Jews can be considered at least mildly religious, and he estimates that a whopping three million out of Israel’s seven million Jews will pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during this upcoming High Holy Day season.
“I suggest everyone stop being fearful,” the rabbi concluded. “The Jewish people are returning to their Father in Heaven, and there’s nothing that can stop it.”
Rabbi Lundin is currently head of the Hesder Yeshiva in the central Israel city of Holon. The Hesder program allows young religious Israeli Jews to combine Torah study with their military service.
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