Yes, that is true – many Israeli Jews live by Judaism without synagogues and rabbis, and that is what I have discovered this year in my visits in Israel.
Of course, there are truly Orthodox Jews in Israel for whom their synagogue, their rabbi, and daily Torah studies are the most important part of their Judaism and Jewish life in Israel. However, they are in minority in Israel.
The Israeli majority Jews are practicing their Judaism and Jewish way of life without synagogues and rabbis, although if you ask them whether they are religious they answer would be NO. How could it be – Judaism without synagogues and rabbis, and by the people who describe themselves as non-religious?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines religion in many ways, and among them is – a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
There is no places of worship (synagogues) or religious supervisors (rabbis) in this definition – you may be religious without attending a synagogue or consulting with a rabbi. You are religious if you have a cause, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. And if your cause or system of beliefs are rooted in the Jewish history and tradition guided by the Torah/Bible, you are religiously Jewish and do practice Judaism although you are surprised when you are told so.
Thus, the Israeli majority Jews are religiously Jewish in their life actions. They are practicing their Judaism without synagogues and rabbis. They are practicing their Judaism in many ways.
They are practicing their Judaism by celebrating the Shabbats and Jewish Holidays, by studying the Torah and Jewish tradition and history in the schools. They are practicing their Judaism by tailoring the Ten Commandments to the real-life circumstances in Israel – for example, how to apply the “do not kill” to military actions against terrorists. At the root of their Judaism is the believe in the Supreme Power over us the humans – however, with the image of this Power different from the image being taught in traditional synagogues.
However, they are not practicing their Judaism by praying in synagogues and by verifying with the rabbis the correctness of their personal decisions. Why? – Because they feel no need for prayers in looking for the advice from “the above” and they are afraid that the rabbis will try to bring them back from the amazing outside world where they live in now to the “gated” limited world of synagogues.
That is up to the rabbis to find a solution to this challenge!