After 5,000 years, God is still popular

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After 5,000 years, God is still popular

David Keene

David Keene

David Keene

According to a Boiling Point poll, more than three-fourths of all Shalhevet students believe in God, and similar percentages believe that God is all-powerful and wants man to be moral. Here, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Jaclyn Kellner, Deputy Editor-In-Chief

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Poll shows most Shalhevet students believe in an all-powerful God who cares about morality

More than eight out of 10 Shalhevet students believe in God, and there’s almost no difference between freshmen and seniors except that seniors are more willing to consider other beliefs, according to a Boiling Point poll taken during Advisory Feb. 4.

Of those who believe, four-fifths believe in an all-powerful God who influences daily life, and 75 percent of all students said they believe God wants man to be moral. However, only 68 percent answered that they believe God wrote the Torah.

“I think it is not surprising that in an Orthodox school most people believe in God,” said Judaic Studies Principal Rabbi Ari Leubitz .He was encouraged by the lack of difference between the beliefs of seniors and freshmen.

“It’s a testament to Shalhevet,” Rabbi Leubitz said.  “We allow the students to engage in a dialogue about God which creates a healthy relationship with their Judaism.”

Senior Eli Willis did not think so many students believed in God.

“I was actually pretty surprised,” Eli said. “A lot of people I talk to are agnostic.”

One hundred-nineteen students, almost two-thirds of the student body, responded to the anonymous poll, which asked what grade they were in and then offered 13 statements about their current beliefs relating to God, how much and in what way that belief has changed during high school and their comfort level sharing their beliefs with their peers. Students could respond “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” “strongly disagree” or “unsure.”

The poll showed a slight progression in comfort level regarding considering beliefs about God other than one’s own. Fifty percent of freshmen, 54 percent of sophomores, 59 percent of juniors and 68 percent of seniors answered that they would feel comfortable.

“It makes sense,” said senior Keren Meir. “We go to a democratic school and are taught to voice our opinions. This exposure to viewpoints that differ from our own allow us and almost force us to take these opposing views into consideration. Shalhevet students come from extremely diverse backgrounds and levels of observance, we all have something else to offer in terms of our personal theologies.”

At 82 percent, Shalhevet students are more likely than the average American young adult to believe in God, according to a study by Pew Forum on Religion & Public which was published Feb. 16 (tinyurl.com/PFRPGod). That study found that roughly two out of three 18-29 year old Americans believe in God.

Half of the polled Shalhevet students answered that their belief in God has changed during their time at Shalhevet, but only 18 percent answered that they’d feel comfortable changing it in the future.

“The thing is beliefs are not just things that you adopt,” Dean of Students Mr. Danovitch said. “It’s far more subtle. It happens with maturity or when you travel. Nobody can predict that their beliefs will change, they just do.”

Students tend to strengthen their belief in God during high school. More than twice as many students responded that they felt they moved towards believing more strongly in God than responded that they moved towards believing less strongly in God.

“My belief in god only gets stronger everyday,” junior Maya Oz said.”By going to a Jewish school, we learn different aspects of God everyday. I feel like if we didn’t go to Jewish school, some people might have thought differently.”

Forty-five of the polled students felt that their classes at Shalhevet influenced their belief in God while 26 percent answered they felt their peers at Shalhevet influenced their belief in God.

“I honestly thought it would be the other way around,” senior Emilio Lari said. “I know that I am more influenced by my classmates because we talk about it outside of class. The students can speak freely about their beliefs. I can be influenced by my peers since they are open to disagree with me while teachers in class can’t.”

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