On 14 May 1948, the establishment of the State of Israel took place as an independent Jewish and democratic state, fulfilling the Zionism ideals as the national state of the Jewish People. Nobody can dispute the fact that Jewish history is very ancient, and the term Jewish doesn’t refer only to the religious identity of the Jewish People. Indeed, not every Jew in Israel is a religious observant, and the tern Jewish is relative to Jews. In this sense, the State of Israel is a secular state, and the Knesset is the Parliament that determines the laws of Israel. Religious laws are applicable as a consequence of secular law. Nevertheless, it is not exact to define Israel as a secular State. Israel’s population stands at over nine million persons, and a consistent part of them is religious; hence, it is not accurate to define Israel as a secular State.
Most non-religious Jews observe some traditional aspects of Judaism, such as circumcisions, bar mitzvah celebrations and religious weddings. In Israel, all persons enjoy complete liberty of conscience and freedom to exercise their forms of worship, respecting the maintenance of public order and morals.
Every religious community that is recognised by the Government enjoy autonomy for the internal affairs of the community. Indeed, there are no limitations on freedom of religion and worship in Israel, and discrimination on religious grounds is prohibited. In the Declaration of Independence, it is proclaimed that the State of Israel guarantees freedom of religion and conscience, of language, education and culture, and it will safeguard the Holy Places of all faiths.
The State of Israel recognises the jurisdiction of the Rabbinical courts over every Jewish citizen regarding matters of personal status, according to the laws of the Halakha. The State confers powers on the Chief Rabbinate and Religious Councils, which are both organised under the law and state-funded. The Knesset legislated laws with a religious background regarding Shabbat and Jewish holidays, dietary laws and much more. The High Court of Justice reviews the actions of all state institutions regarding the application of religious laws. Public authorities don’t interfere in the administration of religious communities. Recognised religious communities have their courts in case of personal status issues. Israel is a country where the rule of law prevails, and there is respect and enforcement of fundamental rights. The establishment of places of worship, the celebration of festivals, the distribution of literature and other activities are regulated following the principles of a democratic society.
Religious Groups In Israel
There are different religious groups among the Jews in Israel. Indeed, there are Ultra-Orthodox or Haredim, Modern Orthodox or Dati-Leumi, Traditionals or Masorati, and Secular or Hiloni.
Sometimes, there are disputes among these groups regarding several aspects of daily life. Secular Jews don’t accept rabbinic control over their lives since the Ultra-Orthodox Jews expect Israel to fulfil all the Halacha laws, i.e., rabbinical laws. Christians and Muslims are recognised as Israeli citizens.
The Christian community constitutes 2% of the total Israel population, and the Muslim community form 15% of the entire population of Israel. Unlike other Middle East countries, Israel allows for freedom of religious expression; hence, both communities freely worship their faith. These communities are autonomously administrated by their leaders.
Moreover, there are other religious minorities such as the Bahai’s, whose main headquarter is in Haifa.
Israel’s Educational System
Israel’s educational system is a reflection of the religious and ethnic heterogeneity of this country. Hence, there are different school systems for each kind of population. Therefore, there is a school system for the Arab community, a school system for the Ultra-Orthodox community whose primary language is Yiddish, besides modern Hebrew, a school system for the modern Orthodox Jewish community whose primary language is Hebrew, and whose school program includes religious studies, secular Jews have another educational system with Hebrew language, cultural and religious Jewish studies. Moreover, in Israel, the Tali Schools are alternative educational systems that blend secular and religious schools to bring Jews and Arabs together.
Religious liberty in Israel
In Israel, religious liberty is guaranteed by different laws against the desecration of worship places, the disruption of funerals, the publication, hate speech, and the uttering of offences against any person’s religious beliefs. Indeed, the several holy places of each faith are under the Protection of Holy Places Law of 1967. Shabbath and Jewish festivals are the days of rest according to the Law and Administration Ordinance of 1948 and the Hours of Work and Rest Law of 1951. Not Jewish citizens choose their rest days.
Hence, summarising, Israel is a democratic country, and it respects religious freedom. It is indeed a beautiful and fantastic place to visit that will catch your attention and will surprise you with its numberless attractions and beautiful locations.