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Israel: Varieties of Israeli Judaism
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Social Structure > Varieties of Israeli Judaism


As the references to "Orthodox Zionists," "Orthodox non-Zionists," and "Orthodox anti-Zionists" indicate, Judaism is not a monolithic cultural entity in contemporary Israel. Furthermore, an understanding of religious categories in American Judaism, is not sufficient for understanding Israeli Judaism. Israelis religiously categorize themselves first as dati, that is, "religiously" observant Jews or lo dati, "not religiously" observant Jews. One who is religious strictly follows halakah, that is, adheres to the totality of rabbinic law. One who is not religious is not a strict follower of rabbinic law; however, the category can be further subdivided into agnostic or atheistic secularists, on the one hand, and individuals who are committed to Judaism in principle, on the other. The latter groups calls itself "traditionalist."

Many Oriental Jews, especially in the second generation since immigration, are traditionalists, expressing this commitment in observance of folk customs such as ethnic festivals and pilgrimages. This group is important because, although members may not vote directly for religious political parties, they respond positively to religious symbols used politically by a number of parties; for example, the idea of the Jewish people's right to a greater, biblical land of Israel as divinely ordained.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Israel was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 45 of 206


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