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Are Jews in Israel more Jewish or more Israeli?

Most Jewish Israelis believe that to be a real Israeli you must be Jewish; according to Ruth Gavison, that creates 'many complications'

“For most Israeli Jews, when they are not in a reflective mode, Israeliness and Jewishness go together,” says Prof. Ruth Gavison, a leading Israeli scholar and public intellectual. According to findings of surveys conducted by The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), a majority of Jewish Israelis believe that “to be real Israeli you must be Jewish” — a situation that creates “many complications,” as Prof. Gavison says. It complicates the relations of Israeli Jews and Israeli non-Jews, as well as the relations between Israeli Jews and non-Israeli Jews around the world.

The dialogue with Gavison, which I am proud to present here (it’s a little more than 20 minutes long), is the first in a series of conversations conducted with Israeli intellectuals, to discuss the findings and the analysis presented in a new book: #IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution. This book is based on the work of JPPI, and was coauthored by Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at JPPI and Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. The English version came out recently and provides us with an opportunity to both present the unique nature of Israeli Judaism to the broader world, and to discuss its future and the implications for world Jewry.

The discussion with Prof. Gavison focuses on Israeliness and Jewishness. In the coming weeks JPPI will present similar conversations about Israeli traditionalism, secularity, nationality, pluralism and more.

We invite TOI readers to try a short questionnaire prepared by Prof. Camil Fuchs. Once you have answered all the questions, you will be able to see where you are on the map of Israeli Judaism and compare yourself to Israeli Jews by political affiliation, religious affiliation, age and ethnicity (for the survey, click here). 

#IsraeliJudaism is a research project of The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent professional policy planning think tank incorporated as a private non-profit company in Israel (founded by JAFI). The mission of the Institute is to contribute to ensuring the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry. Located in Jerusalem, JPPI takes a global approach to the Jewish People and provides decision makers in Israel and the Diaspora with action-oriented policy recommendations.

About the Author
Avinoam Bar-Yosef is the President and the Founding Director of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute.