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Israel
INTRODUCTION
1. Geography
2. Political situation
3 Economy
a. Figures
4. Health
5. Education
a. Universities
6. Demographics
7. Religions
a. Freedom
8. Peoples
9. Languages
10. History
11. Cities and Towns



























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Index / Religions
Open map of IsraelFlag of IsraelIsrael /
Religions



Religions
Figures in 1000.
Judaism
5,570 76.0%
Karaism
15 0.2%
Islam
1,240 17.0%
Sunni
1,240 17.0%
Christians
155 2.1%
Greek Orthodox
70 0.9%
Roman Catholic
60 0.8%
Protestant
15 0.2%
Maronite
8 0.1%
Syrian Catholic
1.8 <0.1%
Armenian Catholic
0.8 <0.1%
Coptic
0.8 <0.1%
Chaldean
0.4 <0.1%
Melkite Greek
0.4 <0.1%
Messianic Judaism
10 0.1%
Druze
120 1.6%
Baha'i
0.6 <0.1%
Samaritans
0.3 <0.1%
Undefined
280 3.8%

According to official Israeli statistics.

As the only country in the world, Israel has Judaism as the majority religion, and Israel is by all means defined according to relgion, although it balances this with a mainly secular state structure.
Israeli law formally operates with officially recognized religions, but this has minimal effect on non-recognized communities, as all are free to practice religion, with no oppression. The large Muslim community has their religious sites protected by the Israeli government. Yet, Israel is a country that often divides according to religious beliefs of individuals and groups, and this hits hard on Palestinians, who have limitations on owning property and are not admitted to the Israeli military.

Judaism
Belonging to Judaism in Israel involves being part of a specific tradition. Such traditions are not defined as clearly as is the case with Islam and Christianity. The US understanding of Judaism largely as Orthodox; Reform; and Conservative is only of secondary meaning in Israel. Reform and Conservative are important forces in the USA, but effectively kept out of Israeli reality.
Judaism in Israel may be understood as Secular; and Traditional, but there is no hard definitions between these two. There are no good number for the sizes of these two orientations, most tend to consider Secular by far the largest group, roughly counting 3 of every 4 Jew in Israel.
Jews in Israel are among the least active in religious festivals among any religion in the Middle East. Only 1 of 4 Jews keep the Sabbath, for instance.
Orthodox Judaism is not a formalized branch of the religion, but rather several groups with a several levels of conservatism. They are understood both according to traditional divisions, then mainly Ashkenazi and Sephardic, as well as according to what level of strict understanding of religion is in practice, and also according to whether they are pro- or anti-Zionist. Among anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews are the Neturei Karta.
An increasing trend in religiosity is with the many formerly secular that embrace a radically more conservative Jewish lifestyle.
The size of Orthodox Judaism is largely reflected in parliamentary representation, the Israeli Knesset has about 20% Orthodox members.
Some judicial matters are handled by the Chief Rabbinate, like dietary laws, regulations for the Sabbath, burials, marriage and divorce. This means that there is no form of civil marriage in Israel.
Practice in relation to the Sabbath are not rigorously enforced, and many services are operative on this day, even if formal regulation requires them otherwise.
By the Chief Rabbinate, which is headed by Orthodox forces, the Orthodox exercise a disproportionally large force in society.

Islam
Islam in Israel is only represented with one branch, the Sunni. All Muslims are Arabs and native to the lands corresponding to the state of Israel. Prior to the establishment of the state in 1948, Muslims formed the majority in these lands. The First Palestinian War made great numbers flee or to be forced away from their homes. In the decades following a great Jewish immigration changed the situation into them becoming a minority.
Inside today's Israeli borders, is the Temple Mount, which is considered by most most Muslims to be a holy Muslim place, the third holiest after Mecca and Madina. Poor theological assessment and political construction have teamed up to established this place to have been the site for Muhammad's nightly journey (see Isra' for discussion).
The institution of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was established by the British in 1922, and it has become one of the most important Islamic institutions for a larger audience of Muslims, partly from gaining much credibiltiy from his close alliance with Adolf Hitler.
Muslims of Israel have greater religious freedom than Muslims in Muslim countries. They have no political interference, their own schools and institutions of higher learning, as well as courts handing non-criminal matters, in particular marriage and inheritance.

Christianity
Christianity in Israel is linked to the native Arab population as well as to modern-day immigration, but the latter is of only small numbers.
There are 9 churches with official recognition, meaning that they are can handle matters like marriage aChurch - LookLex Encyclopaediand divorce: Eastern Orthodox; Roman Catholic (and Latin rite); Gregorian-Armenian; Armenian Catholic; Syrian Catholic; Syrian Orthodox; Chaldean; Melkite; Maronite; and Ethiopian Orthodox.
A rather new and unique phenomenon is Messianic Judaism, which involves the combination of basic Judaism with a belief in Jesus. Whether it shall be considered part of Judaism, Christianity or an independent religion is debatable.

Druze
The Druze of Israel are natives to the land, forming vital communities in the Haifa area, up to Akko. Although coexistence between Jews and Druze have been good, and Druze are loyal to the state of Israel, there are many recent reports of tension between Druze and Jews.

Baha'i
One could have expected Israel to have had a sizeable community of Baha'is, considering that this religion's world headquarters are in Haifa, but there are no more than the 600 volunteers working here.

Other religions
Reports claim that Israel has communities of Hindus and Buddhists, but information is inconsistent, and appears to have been put together from other indirect sources. Israel has a small group of foreign workers, counting 60,000 to 70,000, but many of these are Christians.




By Tore Kjeilen