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Who Are We Today?

A survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in February and March 2012 found the following breakdown of the American Jewish community: 35% Reform, 26% Conservative, 8% Orthodox, 1% Reconstructionist, and 29% who said they were “just Jewish.” Regarding the latter category, the survey findings were in line with other surveys — that younger Americans of all faiths are likely to be less religiously affiliated than their elders.

The survey found that 59% of American Jews said religion is at least somewhat important in their lives, with women at 66% and men at 50%. Younger Jews are twice as likely as older Jews to say they do not believe in God (27% to 13%), with only 35% of American Jews belonging to a synagogue.

Belief in God is not uniform. While 18% of Jews of all ages do not believe in God, 26% say they believe in a God with whom they can have a relationship, and 40% say they believe in an “impersonal God.” Many rabbis have contended that a Judaism without a strong belief in God and theology would collapse (see the article on “How Judaism Became a Religion”).

Concerning the qualities Jews feel are most important to their sense of Jewish identity, 46% identified social issues (a commitment to social equality), 20% support for Israel, 17% religious observance, 6% cultural heritage, and 11% other. 87% said the Holocaust was somewhat or very important in determining their political beliefs and activities.

Another survey found that 50% of non-Orthodox couples are intermarried and that most of the children of these marriages receive no Jewish schooling at all. Only 7% of young intermarried couples (ages 18-34) feel “very attached to Israel,” which is frightening, because caring about Israel is the one thing that unites most Jews.

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One thought on “Who Are We Today?

  1. 3questions on November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Unfortunately this is the way many people feel today. Not just Jewish people. Many are starting to question the reality of a “God”. With all the hatred, wars, and corrupt governments it is hard to imagine a world without them, a world where peace is everywhere and all peoples can live with, work with and appreciate one another for the full value of each of us. God can’t bring that to pass, only Man can bring about peace on earth.

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