Benji Lovitt
Because the Middle East is Funny
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Pew 2: Israeli Jewry troubled but speaks excellent Hebrew

The little-known second part of the population study finds Israeli Jewry troubled but speaks excellent Hebrew

In the just-released second part of the controversial Pew study, researchers found that despite a declining awareness of almost all that is Jewish, Israelis have an excellent command of modern Hebrew.

The findings come on the heels of last week’s report, which revealed that American Jewry was up shit creek without a paddle. To the surprise of some, Jewish identity in Israel has also shifted significantly since the establishment of the state.

“I am not Jewish. I am Israeli,” said Tel Aviv resident Yossi Goy-Tov. “I am proud of who I am, unlike the Americans who are intermarrying,” he said before returning to his annual Yom Kippur barbecue. “Jews have no future in America. They should move here where they can live in freedom. Except for the religious extremists who can rot in hell.”

95% of the Jewish population in Jerusalem identified as “observant”, up from the last poll ten years ago, and 45% claimed to be tolerant of other streams. However, this number fell to zero among those who wear black and have testicles.

In Tel Aviv, a whopping 89% of responders claimed to identify with the peoplehood aspect of Judaism more than the religious aspect, yet still admitted to lighting Shabbat candles at least once in their lifetime. “Shabbat is the best part of the week. I love going to the beach, getting high, and drinking with my friends at the Clara Bar,” claimed twenty-four year-old Merav Lefkovich. “I wish every day were Shabbat.”

A fifth of the national population claimed to know more about Judaism than they did ten years ago and identified themselves as Christian or Muslim. Ahmed Shukri, a chumus vendor in Jaffa said, “Of course I know about Judaism. Our restaurant is packed on Rosh Hashana. That is when many of our customers come. Baruch Hashem, business is good.”

While 98% of the country’s Jewish population celebrates the holidays in some way, over 35% of Jews over the age of 18 were unable to explain the reasoning behind chagim such as Shavuot. The most popular write-in answer was “Ehhhhh…. (illegible)…cheesecake, nu?”, followed by “Ask my kids, I think they learned it in school.”

Despite low rates of intermarriage, Jewish community leaders have already begun speculating whether this is a result of demographics or identity. Ronen Goldstein of Petach Tikva said, “We do have concerns about intermarriage, but the connection to our culture is strong. My children know better than to eat matbucha.”

Israeli Jews tended to be less worried about the survey’s results than their American counterparts. In fact, statistics from the Ministry of Interior showed that thousands of Israelis were moving to the United States annually, presumably to help their fellow Jews in need.

Finally, the Kotel was chosen as the most special Jewish holy site to at which to be pelted with rocks and eggs.

About the Author
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has performed stand-up comedy and educational programs for groups including Jewish Federations, Chabads, synagogues, Masa Israel Journey, and Birthright Israel. His perspectives on aliyah and Israeli society have been featured on Israeli TV and radio and in publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, the BBC, and more. Benji has worked as a cross-cultural trainer with groups including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Masa Israel and is a popular presenter on the Limmud International circuit. During 2014's Operation Protective Edge, his humorous observations on the war led to his being called in Israel "the only reason to go on Facebook.”
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