Latest Pew Research Study: A Portrait of Jewish Americans

America’s Jewish population is declining, and religion is becoming less important to overall Jewish identity.

Those are just two of the fascinating conclusions reached in a Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” released earlier this month.

The study analyzed decades’ worth of demographic and behavioral data to uncover some revealing trends and insights about an increasingly small but still-influential group of Americans.

Here are some key findings:

When asked about their religious identity, less than 2 percent of U.S. adults called themselves  Jewish, a 50 percent drop since the late 1950s.

The study also found that 62 percent of American Jews stated that being Jewish was mainly a matter of ancestry and culture — an overwhelming number compared to the 15 percent who said their Jewish identity was rooted in religion alone, and the 23 percent who attributed both religion and ancestry/culture to their Jewish identity.

Among adult Jews, 78 percent identified their religion as Jewish, while 22 percent said they have no religion.

jewish AmericaYounger Jews were even less likely to identify themselves as Jewish and more likely to say they have no religion.

For example, among Jews born after 1980 – so-called “millennials” – 68 percent identified as Jewish, and 32 percent said they have no religion. By contrast, the Greatest Generation, born between 1914 and 1927, recorded 93 percent identifying as Jewish and just 7 percent saying they have no religion.

Between the “millennials” and the Greatest Generation, there was a 25 percent drop in Jewish identity and a 25 percent increase in those identifying with no religion. Both data points had been steadily gaining ground with each generation.

The trends started with the “Silent Generation,” born between 1928 and 1945. Within that group, 86 percent indentified as Jewish, a full 7 percent drop from the previous generation, and the no religion category doubled to 14 percent.

Then the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, dropped in identity by 5 points, to 81 percent, and also increased the no-religion identify by 5 points, to 19 percent.

“Generation X,” born between 1965 and 1980, subsequently dropped 7 points in identity to 74 percent, with an increase in no religion by 7 points, to 26 percent.

Still, Jewish pride remains high, with 94 percent of all American Jews saying they are proud of their heritage. And 75 percent of them said they have “a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”jewish immigrants

They also have strong feelings for their homeland, with 69 percent of American Jews saying they are attached or somewhat attached to Israel. But only 40 percent said they believe God gave the land that is now considered Israel to the Jewish people.

Intermarriage has risen dramatically among American Jews since 1970, when only 17 percent of Jews had a non-Jewish spouse. Today, 58 percent who married since 2005 have spouses who are not Jewish.

Clearly, intermarriage is a key contributing factor to the decline of identification among American Jews.

With 62 percent of U.S. Jews in the United States identifying with their heritage through ancestry and culture, Pew Research asked a most intriguing question:

“What does being Jewish mean in America today?”

The answers, in order of their popularity:

  • Remembering the Holocaust, 73 percent
  • Leading an ethical life, 69 percent
  • Working for justice and equality, 56 percent
  • Caring about Israel, 43 percent
  • Having a good sense of humor, 42 percent

In a report chock full of interesting data, answers to the following two questions really got my attention, especially because I was born and raised Jewish, then converted to Christianity in 1975 and have studied the Old and New Testaments ever since:

“Can a person be Jewish if he/she does not believe in God?” Sixty-eight percent answered yes, and 29 percent said no.

“Can a person be Jewish if he/she believes Jesus was messiah?” Thirty-four percent answered yes, and 60 percent said no.

My strong recommendation for the 68 percent who said they can be Jewish without believing in God is to read the Old Testament. There, you will learn how and why believing in one God was the foundation of Judaism. That is not debatable.

But, thankfully, at least 29 percent know that it makes no sense to call yourself a Jew if you do not believe in God. Unless, of course, Judaism becomes totally redefined — and the Pew Research study shows that is actually what is happening.

old test 2Finally, for the 34 percent who said they can be Jewish if they believe Jesus was the messiah, thank you for the laugh. That made me remember back to when I was about 10 years old. It was Christmas-time, and I asked my Jewish mother, “Why don’t we believe in Jesus since Jesus was Jewish?” Her answer: “Because we are Jewish, and Jews do not believe in Jesus.”  I always loved that circular response, so I was very glad to see at least 34 percent of Jews do not think I am a traitor.

The Pew Research report shows that being Jewish in America is less about belief in God and more about ethics, justice, humor and, above all, remembering the Holocaust.

It makes me wonder what Moses would think of his people today — in America anyway — if he read about how far American Jews have drifted from the origin of the faith.

Now that is a question worth pondering.

 

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Myra Adams

Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer.She was on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team and 2008 McCain campaign Ad Council.

Writing credits include National Review, PJ Media, Daily Beast, RedState, Daily Caller and Liberty Unyielding
Email: Myraadams@Bizpacreview.com
About Myra Adams

Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team and 2008 McCain campaign Ad Council.

Writing credits include National Review, PJ Media, Daily Beast, RedState, Daily Caller and Liberty Unyielding
Email: Myraadams@Bizpacreview.com

  • cezzwho

    I wonder if it’s because of the Jewish aversion to prosylatizing. I’m glad somebody told me about God & gave me a Bible. Meanwhile Islam is spreading their beliefs in prisons, on billboards, etc, etc. If you don’t tell someone, how will they know?

  • Nope And Chains

    The report in this column is no surprise. The decrease in the practicing Jewish population has long been the heartbreak of religious Jews. And Ms. Adams, your mothers explanation sounds like the same my mother gave me. Speaking for myself only, my parents didnt pass down any religion to me; only that we are Jewish. This is not unusual albeit a shonda.

  • Beverly Golato

    Yes Islam is spreading their beliefs in prisons, etc.. They spread it to the low intelligence people because they are easy targets. Not many brilliant converts to Islam only people who have a perchance as criminals.

    • Doug

      Christians do a lot of evangelical work in prisons. After working in that milieu prisoners will say or do anything that might get them out quicker.

      • HonestToAtee

        Ah, so you are a Muslim!

        • Doug

          Did you need a ladder to reach that lofty conclusion?

  • HonestToAtee

    I personally didn’t need this poll to confirm my belief that most Liberal, so called Jews, do NOT believe in God. They believe in the “Collective” because they are Communists. That is why they side with the enemies of Israel, the Democrats.

    My answer to the question, “What does being Jewish mean in America today?” Living in Tzedek.

    • Doug

      Always uplifting to see such a well-considered objective point of view as yours.

      • HonestToAtee

        Thanks, coming from you I take it as a high compliment.

      • HonestToAtee

        You just don’t like the truth.

    • Nope And Chains

      lets not forget the “NO!” that resounded at the DNC when Israel and God was referendum’d.

  • David R. Adams

    Nice essay, Myra. Your readers might be interested to know that you are from the line of Aaron and Kohath — (your Mother being a Cohen and your Father a Kahn), so you are REALLY Jewish! :-)

  • reinhold

    We are pleased to see the Synagogue of Satan diminished. Of the 12 million people claiming to be “Jews” 6 million live in America and 6 million live in Occupied Palestine. All are subsidized by the largesse of the American renegade public servants.

    Declaring their motto, “By deception we shall wage war” World Jewry (Esau-Edom) seeks to subjugate all that are not “Jews.” The Jews call these others, “Goyim” (cattle).

    To declare that Yeshua (Jesus) is a “Jew” is the most preposterous lie ever uttered. The synagogue of the “Jew” is neither any race nor any nation whatsoever. The cult of the “Jew” (Pharisee) is comprised of those adherents to the Talmudic Doctrine of Judaism.

    Our One Teacher, our Savior and King, Yeshua the Christ, declared of this “Judaic Synagogue of Satan,” “You are of your father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies.” To these he declared, “Woe unto you Pharisees! You have taken away the key to the Kingdom, you would not enter yourselves and those that were entering you hindered.”

    How then can Yeshua,the Christ be a “Jew?”

    America is founded as a Continental Union of Free Christian States. The Christian Founders, declared that for the governance of these Free States within this Union there shall be, “No King but King Jesus.”

    The current insurrection by renegade public servants presents a clear and present danger. The Christian People must now exercise the full extent of their Authority, Right and Duty to suppress this insurrection, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow those who pervert the Constitution. This shall be immediately and forcibly accomplished using any and all necessary means.

    Expelling the Judaic Crown (The Rothschild Bank of Credit Fraud) from the North American Continent by the war of 1775-1783 is equivalent to expelling World Jewry. The Jews have always been expelled from every nation for their Anti-Christian conduct, incessant greed, deception and perversion. Every nation ever having done so has prospered.

    Declaring “Communism is Judaism” world Jewry declared war on Christian Germany in 1933 because Germany expelled Judaic Communists. Continual World War is induced by World Jewry. See: “A Short History Of The Balfour Declaration.” Available at http://www.barnesreview.org and http://www.Amazon.com.

    • Doug

      I liked your piece better in the original German.

      • reinhold

        Doug, Thank you for your kind words. However, I am not German literate. You must have seen a digital translation. If that is correct I am honored that you can see this in German and find it useful. I shall enjoy hearing from you. So far no others have responded

  • Dawn

    Vast Majority of Jews voted for ObamaNationwide 75%
    Florida 82%

    • reinhold

      Dawn, Did you see my post?

      We are pleased to see the Synagogue of Satan diminished. Of the 12 million people claiming to be “Jews” 6 million live in America and 6 million live in Occupied Palestine. All are subsidized by the largesse of the American renegade public servants.

      Declaring their motto, “By deception we shall wage war” World Jewry (Esau-Edom) seeks to subjugate all that are not “Jews.” The Jews call these others, “Goyim” (cattle).

      To declare that Yeshua (Jesus) is a “Jew” is the most preposterous lie ever uttered. The synagogue of the “Jew” is neither any race nor any nation whatsoever. The cult of the “Jew” (Pharisee) is comprised of those adherents to the Talmudic Doctrine of Judaism.

      Our One Teacher, our Savior and King, Yeshua the Christ, declared of this “Judaic Synagogue of Satan,” “You are of your father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies.” To these he declared, “Woe unto you Pharisees! You have taken away the key to the Kingdom, you would not enter yourselves and those that were entering you hindered.”

      How then can Yeshua,the Christ be a “Jew?”

      America is founded as a Continental Union of Free Christian States. The Christian Founders, declared that for the governance of these Free States within this Union there shall be, “No King but King Jesus.”

      The current insurrection by renegade public servants presents a clear and present danger. The Christian People must now exercise the full extent of their Authority, Right and Duty to suppress this insurrection, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow those who pervert the Constitution. This shall be immediately and forcibly accomplished using any and all necessary means.

      Expelling the Judaic Crown (The Rothschild Bank of Credit Fraud) from the North American Continent by the war of 1775-1783 is equivalent to expelling World Jewry. The Jews have always been expelled from every nation for their Anti-Christian conduct, incessant greed, deception and perversion. Every nation ever having done so has prospered.

      Declaring “Communism is Judaism” world Jewry declared war on Christian Germany in 1933 because Germany expelled Judaic Communists. Continual World War is induced by World Jewry. See: “A Short History Of The Balfour Declaration.” Available atwww.barnesreview.org and http://www.Amazon.com.

  • FrZeile

    This fits in with my experience over 50 years with Jewish friends, trends, and reading.