Saturday, October 05, 2013

Pew Survey on changes amongst Jewish-Americans

by Salman Hameed

Pew has a new report out that looks at Jewish Americans and the changes in their views over the last 100 years. Some of the findings are not surprising, but I think it is the generational comparison that makes the report fascinating. For example, here is a snapshot of how the numbers of Jews who do not associate with the religion have increased over the last hundred years or so:

Now this trend of no-religion is the same as with the rest of the US, but within the Jewish context, 44% of no-religion Jews still attend religious services at least a few of times a year. Here is a snapshot of religious attendance along with a comparison with American Christian groups: 

And again, this may not come as a surprise, but being Jewish is more about cultural identity than religion:
Secularism has a long tradition in Jewish life in America, and most U.S. Jews seem to recognize this: 62% say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, while just 15% say it is mainly a matter of religion. Even among Jews by religion, more than half (55%) say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, and two-thirds say it is not necessary to believe in God to be Jewish.

And here is the denominational distribution of American Jews. Note that unaffiliated Jews are more than the "no-religion" Jews and that is because 19% of Jews by religion and two-thirds of Jews of no religion do not identify with any denomination.

Also, the overall level of education is much higher for American Jews compared with the rest of the population:
Jews have high levels of educational attainment. Most Jews are college graduates (58%), including 28% who say they have earned a post-graduate degree. By comparison, 29% of U.S. adults say they graduated from college, including 10% who have a post-graduate degree.
One last thing from the Pew survey. It is fascinating to note that most American Jews recognize that Muslims (and also gays and lesbians) in the US face more discrimination than they do. See the table below:

Read the full report here (pdf).


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