The Israeli secular community does not really know what to make of the new trend, but Baruch Hashem, many kibbutzim and other secular communities around Israel are requesting a shul and mikve, the very same communities that have lived for decades without the holy structures.
Many of the secular kibbutzim have been ideologically opposed to the construction of the buildings, working with tenacity to remove any trace of Yiddishkeit from their communities.
This year, dozens of shuls and mikvas have been constructed in secular communities and it appears the trend is gaining momentum. 50% of requests given to the Ministry of Religious Services have come from secular kibbutzim and moshavim. Permits were given to construct 37 new mikvas, and in some cases, in totally secular areas including Kinneret Rotem, Kfar Vardim, Tzur Yitzchak, Tal El and N’vei Ziv.
The ministry permitted the construction of shuls in 79 communities, 80% in totally secular communities including Kibbutz Ashdod Yaakov Ichud, Gan Ner, Kibbutz Gezer, Kfar HaNaggid, and Karmei Yosef.
Minister of Religious Services (Shas) stated, “Undoubtedly, there is a new trend in Israel. A growing number of Israelis are more open and more in need of religious services. This is a record-breaking number of requests from the staunch secular community.”
Ronny Kenan, the general manager of Kibbutz Ashdod Yaakov Ichud explains they never had a real synagogue and there are a growing number of residents wishing a formal building for prayer.
The leaders of the national kibbutz movement confirm the number in the report, adding the overwhelming number of kibbutz residents are indeed secular. They add today, there is more pluralism today and less homogeny. They confirm there appears to be a growing interest in returning to “traditionalism” and prayer.
A study conducted by the Shitim Institute reveals that 50% of the population fasts on Yom Kippur and 60% of the kibbutzim do have some type of community activity on Kol Nidrei night.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)