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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Neither the study of the political system nor surveys of individual religiosity capture the full picture of secularization in Israel. The power of religious parties seems unshaken, and formal changes in religious policies and legislation are few. A large number of Israelis maintain their attachment to Jewish religion in beliefs and practices, and the Jewish majority agrees that Israel is and must remain a “Jewish state.” However, economic and demographic trends in the past two decades have caused incremental changes, not registered in formal political channels, toward the partial yet significant secularization of Israel. Religion still has a hold on private beliefs and practices, but secularization will unfold in societal changes involving a decline of religious authority over significant spheres of life. A more complex concept of secularization allows for contradictions observed in Israel and helps to explain how secularization can occur while religion remains embedded in state and society.

Keywords: secularization, secularism, Israel, Judaism, Zionism, Orthodox Judaism, religious freedom

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