The Jewishness of Israelis
Responses to the Guttman Report
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Analyzes a recent report on a survey of the religious beliefs and behavior of Israeli Jews, and of the intense public debate that it produced.
In December 1993, the Louis Guttman Israel Institute of Applied Social Research released the results of the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the religious beliefs and behavior of Israeli Jews. The study revealed that Israeli Jews were far more traditional in their religious beliefs and behavior than previously thought, resulting in an intense public debate within Israeli society.
This book summarizes the Guttman Report and describes how the media and Israeli intellectuals responded to it and imposed their own interpretations. It then analyzes the report in greater detail and puts in global perspective Israeli Jews' ritual behavior, religious beliefs, and attitudes toward religion in public life. The editors conclude that the religious traditionalism of Israeli Jews is unique among advanced industrial societies. They seek to explain this uniqueness in terms of the particular nature of Israeli society, focusing on Israel's security problems and suggesting the impact that a new security situation would have on Israeli Jews and how it would reshape the Israeli political map.
Charles S. Liebman is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University. Elihu Katz is Trustee Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania; Scientific Director at the Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research; and Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Communication at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Between them Professor Liebman and Professor Katz have published more than twenty books.
"This is a unique and fascinating book. The combination of Liebman, who is essentially a qualitative analyst, and Katz, who is primarily a survey researcher, works out extremely well in this case. Theirs is a unique combination of public opinion and communications research and sociology of religion." — Chaim I. Waxman, Rutgers University
"An important contribution to the ongoing study of Israeli society. What impresses me most is the diversity of viewpoints contained within this volume. It is exciting and refreshing to see a book that attempts to introduce new data and summary conclusions and then goes on to document the reception of the [Guttman] Report in the Israeli press and academy. The overall tone is one of 'multiple voices,' shifting and uncertain points of view. The many perspectives lend this book a sense of objectiveness." — Aaron P. Willis, Princeton University