Israel Chanukah

Young Israelis light candles for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah at a bar in Tel Aviv. 

A new study reveals that Chanukah holds different levels of importance to Israeli Jews than American Jews, and highlights disparities in participation between Jews in the two countries.

According to the newest Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) report, while just 38 percent of Israeli Jews consider Chanukah to be “one of the three most important holidays” on the Jewish calendar, 73 percent say they light a menorah for all eight nights — 97 percent of people who call themselves “religious,” 86 percent of those who say they are “traditional,” and 71 percent of those who consider themselves “secular, but a little traditional.”

Among the 28 percent of Israelis who call themselves “completely secular,” 44 percent still light candles on some night, while 40 percent say they still light the candles all eight nights.

After the lights are lit, 64 percent distribute Chanukah gifts and money, and 79 percent eat traditional Chanukah foods like sufganiyot (doughnuts) or latkes (potato pancakes).

In America, however, 68 percent say Chanukah is one of the most important Jewish holidays, but just 60 percent light the menorah for the whole eight days of celebration.

Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs, in a new book called “#IsraeliJudaism: A Portrait of a Cultural Revolution,” primarily studied Israeli practices and surveyed 3,000 Israeli Jews for the report. JN

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