Pew on American Jewish identity

A survey of American Jewish adults by the Pew Research Center confirms or updates some of our ideas. ideas about who they are. The results, released this month, come from 4,718 interviews. Here are five top takeaways:

Pew chart on religious affiliation of Jews

Pew chart notes found the youngest Jewish adults, aged 18-29, had larger shares of both Orthodox and people with no denominational identity.

  • 27% did not identify with the Jewish religion. Rather, they call themselves Jewish by ethnicity, culture or by family. They describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” While that proportion is similar to what it is for Americans in general, a key difference for Jews is that they can feel a cultural or ethnic connection to the faith, while other religiously unaffiliated people do not have any connection to a faith group.
  • Three-quarters of American Jews said there was more anti-Semitism than five years previously. Just more than half said they felt less safe than they did five years earlier.
  • Jews aged 18-29 were much more likely to identify as Orthodox, 17%, compared with 3% of Jews 65 and older. Eleven percent of Jewish adults under 30 say they are ultra-Orthodox compared with 1% of Jews 65 and older.
  • Jewish Americans with the exception of Orthodox Jews identified as staunchly liberal. The survey, conducted during the 2020 presidential campaign, found that that 71% of Jewish adults (including 80% of Reform Jews) were Democrats or leaned that way. Of Orthodox Jews, three-quarters said they were Republican or leaned that way. That percentage has been growing. In 2013, 57% of Orthodox Jews said they were Republicans or Republican leaners.
  • 82% of U.S. Jews said caring about Israel is either “essential” or “important” to what it means to them to be Jewish. When the survey was conducted, between Nov. 19, 2019, and June 3, 2020, Jews who were Democrats or leaned that way were were much more likely (29% vs. 5%) than Jewish Republicans and leaners to say the U.S. was too supportive of Israel.
  • “100 Questions and Answers About American Jews” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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One Response to Pew on American Jewish identity

  1. David Crumm says:

    Joe: Thank you for this distillation of the Pew material, which is so timely at this point in May 2021. I also recommend that Q and A book you’ve linked in this column.

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