You are here


Israel is The Jewish State, however, it is also a major location for many of the other religions of the world.  Below you will find some information expanding on each of these major religions - Most of this information has been extracted from Wikipedia.


Being the Jewish State, the country's national holiday's focus on the Jewish Holidays. Most citizens in the State of Israel are Jewish, and most Israeli Jews practice Judaism in some form.  In the last two centuries the largest Jewish community in the world, in the United States, has divided into a number of Jewish denominations.  The largest and most influential of these denominations are Orthodox Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Conservative Judaism.  All of these denominations exist, to varying degrees, in the State of Israel.


The Holy land offers many denominations the chance to explore their beliefs further and uniquely experience Christianity.  It also offers a wealth of history for tourists which will educate and fascinate you.

Most Christians living permanently in Israel are Arabs or have come from other countries to live and work mainly in churches or monasteries, which have long histories in the land.  Nine churches are officially recognized under Israel's confessional system, for the self-regulation of status issues, such as marriage and divorce.  These are the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic (Latin rite), Gregorian-Armenian, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean (Uniate), Melkite (Greek Catholic), Ethiopian Orthodox, Maronite and Syriac Orthodox churches, and Anglicanism.

The largest Christian community in Israel is that of the Greek Catholics, (Melkite), with 40% of the total Christian population.  They are followed by the Greek Orthodox, 32%, the Roman Catholics, 20%, and the Maronites, 7%. The remaining Christian groups amount to around 1% of the total.

According to historical and traditional sources, Jesus lived in the Land of Israel, and died and was buried on the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, making the land a Holy Land for Christianity.  However, few Christians now live in the area, compared to Muslims and Jews.  This is because Islam displaced Christianity in almost all of the Middle East, and the rise of modern Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel has seen millions of Jews migrate to Israel.  


Jerusalem is a city of major religious significance for Muslims worldwide.  After capturing the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel found itself in control of Mount Moriah, which was the site of both Jewish temples and Islam's third holiest site, after those in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia:  The Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) from which Muslims believe that Mohammad ascended to Heaven.  This mountain, which has the Dome of the Rock and the adjacent Al-Aqsa Mosque on it, is the third-holiest site in Islam (and the holiest in Judaism). Since 1967, the Israeli government has granted authority to a Waqf to administer the area.

Most Muslims in Israel are Sunni Arabs.  From 1516 to 1917, the Sunni Ottoman Turks ruled the areas that now include Israel.  Their rulership reinforced and ensured the centrality and importance of Islam as the dominant religion in the region. The conquest of Palestine by the British in 1917 and the subsequent Balfour Declaration opened the gates for the arrival of large numbers of Jews in Palestine who began to tip the scales in favor of Judaism with the passing of each decade. However, the British transferred the symbolic Islamic governance of the land to the Hashemites based in Jordan, and not to the House of Saud. The Hashemites thus became the official guardians of the Islamic holy places of Jerusalem and the areas around it, particularly strong when Jordan controlled the West Bank (1948–1967).

In 1922 the British had created the Supreme Muslim Council in the British Mandate of Palestine and appointed Amin al-Husayni (1895–1974) as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.  The council was abolished in 1948, but the Grand Mufti continued as one of the most prominent Islamic and Arab leaders of modern times. Israeli Muslims are free to teach Islam to their children in their own schools, and there are a number of Islamic universities and colleges in Israel and the territories.  Islamic law remains the law for concerns relating to, for example, marriage, divorce, inheritance and other family matters relating to Muslims, without the need for formal recognition arrangements of the kind extended to the main Christian churches. Similarly Ottoman law, in the form of the Mecelle, for a long time remained the basis of large parts of Israeli law, for example concerning land ownership.

In 2008 16.5% of the population of Israel, excluding the West Bank and Gaza, were Muslims. The percentage of people who graduated from Israeli universities in 2008 who were Muslim was 4.8%.


Israel is home to about 102,000 Druze who follow their own gnostic religion. The Druze live mainly in the Haifa area, Acre and Peki'in.  Since 1957, the Israeli government has also designated the Druze a distinct ethnic community, at the request of the community's leaders.  Until his death in 1993, the Druze community in Israel was led by Shaykh Amin Tarif, a charismatic figure regarded by many within the Druze community internationally as the preeminent religious leader of his time.


The Bahá'í Faith has its administrative centre in Haifa on land it has owned since Bahá'u'lláh's imprisonment in Acre in the early 1870s by the Ottoman Empire.  Pilgrims from all over the world visit for short periods of time. Apart from the approximately six hundred volunteer staff, Bahá'ís do not live or preach in Israel. Bahá'í individuals from other countries, wishing to visit Israel, have to seek written permission from Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa prior to their visit.


There is a small Hindu community in Israel is mostly made up of representatives of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.  In 2002, most of the devotees lived in Katzir-Harish.