Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Pew Survey of US Jews

I cannot say that the findings as reported by JTA were unexpected:
The proportion of Jews who say they have no religion and are Jewish only on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture is growing rapidly, and two-thirds of them are not raising their children Jewish at all.

Overall, the intermarriage rate is at 58 percent, up from 43 percent in 1990 and 17 percent in 1970. Among non-Orthodox Jews, the intermarriage rate is 71 percent.

The JTA also points out:
* Overall, 22 percent of U.S. Jews describe themselves as having no religion, and the survey finds they are much less connected to Jewish organizations and much less likely to be raising their children Jewish. Broken down by age, 32 percent of Jews born after 1980 — the so-called millennial generation — identify as Jews of no religion, compared to 19 percent of baby boomers and just 7 percent of Jews born before 1927.

* Emotional attachment to Israel has held steady over the last decade, with 69 percent of respondents saying they feel attached or very attached to Israel. Forty-three percent of respondents said they had been to Israel.

* Far more respondents said having a good sense of humor was essential to their Jewish identity than observing Jewish law — 42 percent compared to 19 percent.

* Approximately one-quarter of Jews said religion is very important in their lives, compared to 56 percent among Americans generally.

* Less than one-third of American Jews say they belong to a synagogue. Twenty-three percent of U.S. Jews say they attend synagogue at least once or twice a month, compared with 62 percent of U.S. Christians.

The New York Times brings us the following from the survey:
Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.
Excuse me while I puke!

You can read the full survey here.

I found the reaction of this non-Jew to the survey fascinating:

Though I, obviously, am not Jewish, I find this deeply troubling, though sadly predictable. Apart from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is no way to hold onto Jewishness across the generations. Modernity is a harsh solvent; only the Orthodox Jews, who are committed to living religiously, and as a sign of contradiction to the modern world, are holding the line. The lesson here is that if you are only passively Jewish, your grandchildren will probably not be Jewish at all.
He understands what so many "Jewish leaders" simply fail to grasp.

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