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Cyclists ride down the deserted Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur

Hiloni (Hebrew: חִלּוֹנִי‎), plural hilonim (Hebrew: חִלּוֹנִים‎) derived from the Hebrew word hulin, meaning secular or profane, is the term used in Israel for non-religious Jews. [1]

About 45 percent of all Israelis describe themselves as hiloni.[citation needed] About 15-20 percent describe themselves as Haredi (ultra-orthodox) or dati (orthodox). Most of the rest describe themselves as masorati (traditionally observant, but not as dogmatic as the orthodox). Masorati Jews in Israel observe traditional practices such as lighting Shabbat candles, limiting their activities on Shabbat, or keeping kosher to some extent.

As natives of Israel, hilonim speak Hebrew. As Israel is a Jewish state, many hilonim observe national holidays and customs, such as Israel's Independence Day, and Holocaust Remembrance Day.


History of secularism in Israel

The concept of Modern-day Political Zionism, in itself, was founded largely upon secular beliefs and values. Theodor Herzl, founder of the Modern Day Zionist movement, was an assimilated Austrian Jew. While, at first, most of those immigrating to Palestine where Orthodox Jews who immigrated due to the holiness of the land and their wish to be buried in Jerusalem (due to the belief that The Messiah will resurrect those interred in Jerusalem first before the rest of the world), with the onset of numerous pogroms throughout Eastern Europe, many Jews citing security, freedom of religion, and strong Zionist affinities left their surrogate lands to settle in their native homeland, the Land of Israel. During the first wave (1882-1903) of Zionist aliyah, and especially during the Second Aliyah (1904-1914) the Jewish population of Ottoman Palestine, comprised mainly of secular or nontraditional Jews, greatly increased. These Olim founded cities such as Tel Aviv and established kibbutzim which were based around ideas of socialism, not necessarily connected to Judaism as a religion or a set of values. As the number of new immigrants increased so did the proportion of Secular Jews. Up to, and during the Establishment of The State of Israel, the amount of religious Jews was relatively minor.

By 1987, Thomas Friedman had estimated that the breakdown was 45% secular, 35% traditional, 15% dati and 5% haredi.[2]

Conflict with observant (or more traditional) Jews

Many problems now face Hilonim of Israel, who are embroiled in many disagreements with the religious, namely Haredi, population. The two groups conflicts resonate from the Haredim unwillingness to serve in the IDF, the Haredi groups in Israel that oppose the state of Israel, and the powerful Haredi lobby, which supports the banning of Pork in Israel, [3] and the mandatory closing of all stores on Shabbat.

See also




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