In Israel, a new kind of Judaism has emerged, argues Shmuel Rosner, based on an extensive study he conducted in collaboration with the demographer Camil Fuchs. In that Judaism, the overwhelming majority of the country’s Jewish population—whether ḥaredi or “secular”—take part. He cites the rhythms of the Israeli year as an example:
Many of Israel’s institutions (such as schools) base their schedules on the Gregorian calendar. Many Israelis remember the Gregorian date, but struggle to keep track of the Hebrew date. Nevertheless, their culture follows the Jewish calendar. They take vacations on Sukkot and wear costumes on Purim (51 percent of adults reported doing so), insist on having family dinners on Friday night (as 82 percent say they do regularly), and cannot ignore Shavuot because television commercials remind them to buy cheese for the traditional dairy meal. . . .
Jews who live outside of Israel—most of them in the United States—are familiar with the challenge posed by what some of them call “Jewish continuity.” In short: the highly observant pass on their Judaism to the next generation; the less observant do, too, but [for them] it’s a struggle. When I lived in the United States and studied and wrote about American Judaism, I was fascinated by the great effort that Jews must invest to keep their tradition. I admired their effort. And still do.
But my current study taught me a lot about the benefits of living in a society in which Jewish continuity is a given. Of course, we have a lot to worry about in Israel—from security issues to our political culture to the never-ending conflict with our neighbors. Still, we are spared the worry about the future of Jewishness. When we asked Israeli Jews about their level of confidence that their children and grandchildren will be Jewish, the outcome was remarkable. The overwhelming majority—86 percent—are confident that their children will be Jewish. Nearly as many (79 percent) are confident that their grandchildren will be Jewish. What other option is there? . . . [Israelis] breathe Judaism . . . effortlessly.