Friday, July 31, 2009

Not as Secular as We Think

While many like to complain about the secular nature of the State of Israel, I often comment that secular Israelis are not as anti-religious as they seem. Many lay Tefillin, celebrate Shabbat with family members, fast on Tisha B'av and Yom Kippur, observe some level of kashrut, and care very much about Jewish ritual life. I saw a recent survey that seemed to agree with my sentiments.
Yediot Achronot (a very secular newspaper) published a survey taken on Tisha B'av that asked average Israelis whether they wanted the Beit Hamikdash to be rebuilt. To my pleasant surprise, 64% - almost two-thirds, and nearly half of secular Israelis said yes, they would like to see the Beit Hamikdash rebuilt. Rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash is a pretty abstract idea, so I personally would have expected people who identify themselves as "secular" not to care much about the Beit Hamikdash. But apparently they do, and that's a great thing.