Praying at synagogue
Photo: Israel Bardugo
Becker. 'Youngsters closer to tradition'
Photo: Motti Hakshur

Poll: How do Israelis mark Rosh Hashana?

Ynet-Gesher poll shows 69% of Israeli Jews plan to welcome Jewish New Year in Orthodox congregations, while only 22% will choose Reform or Conservative alternative

The High Holidays are here, temples are ready, but who will win the battle for worshippers? A survey conducted by Ynet's Judaism channel and the Gesher educational organization shows that 69% of Israelis plan to pray in Orthodox congregations, while only 22% will choose the Reform or Conservative alternative.


The most popular ways to mark the Jewish New Year are in family meals and an apple with honey.


The Ynet-Gesher survey was conducted by Panels Ltd. and included 500 respondents, who constitute a national representative sample of the adult Hebrew-speaking Jewish population in Israel.


In the first part of the survey, respondents were asked whether they plan to pray during the holiday and where they plan to do it. Thirty-two percent replied that they would pray in an Orthodox synagogue, 10% prefer Reform or Conservative places of worship and 4% choose quorums held in local community centers.


Fifty-four percent said they would not take part in the Rosh Hashana prayers at all. In total, 69% of the worshippers plan to pray in Orthodox congregations and 22% in Reform or Conservative synagogues.


How many seculars will attend shul?

An analysis of the religious affiliations reveals that they all prefer the Orthodox synagogues. However, 75% of seculars won't pray, as well as 29% of the traditional respondents and even 3% of the religious ones.


Two percent of the religious respondents said they prefer the Reform and Conservative synagogues.


Another analysis reveals that with age the number of worshippers drops. In the 18-20 age group 59% pray, in the 21-40 age group 48% pray, among the 41-50 age group 44% pray, and among the older age group only 41% pray.


Another figure shows that most men (52%) tend to pray while most women (60%) plan to stay home.


And how will Israeli Jews mark Rosh Hashana (more than one answer possible)? Eighty-six percent said they would attend family meals, 62% would eat an apple with honey and other holiday traditions, 37% will listen to the sound of the shofar (horn), 17% will tour the country, 3% will travel abroad, and 2% did not answer.


An analysis of the results reveals that the number of those who mark the Jewish New Year with religious traditions drops with age.


Shoshi Becker, educational director at Gesher Educational Affiliates, said that "the findings show the connection to tradition mainly revolves around family and holiday customs. An analysis of the survey reveals that the younger respondents are closer to the world of tradition.


"A significant part of the public which does not define itself as religious or haredi does not attend the Rosh Hashana prayers, most likely because many of the synagogues are not open to those who do not observe the Torah and mitzvoth and sometimes even feels detached from them.


"I call on the congregations to respect and bring closer those who choose to visit the synagogue, make them feel wanted and open the door during the holidays to those looking for the connection to Judaism, regardless of their religious views."


פרסום ראשון: 09.29.08, 10:29
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