News / USA

American Jews Worry About Declining Religiosity Among Young

American Jews Worry About Declining Religiosity Among Youngi
X
December 19, 2013 3:50 PM
A major survey of American Jews indicates they are declining as a share of the U.S. population and also becoming less observant. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky reports that while some Jews worry about assimilation, their culture is widely celebrated in America.
American Jews Worry About Declining Religiosity Among Young
During the recent holiday of Hanukkah, a 9-meter tall menorah - the maximum height allowed by Jewish law - stood behind the White House.

Two Orthodox rabbis, hoisted aloft in a bucket crane, lit the candles, as a U.S. Air Force band played traditional songs, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman relayed a “Happy Hanukkah” from the president to a small crowd that assembled despite the bitter cold and rain.

The weather did not dampen the spirits of Jews who feel that America has treated them better than most countries in their long and often troubled history. Having a giant Jewish symbol alongside the White House Christmas tree seemed like additional proof of America’s welcome.

Many Jews still have a feeling of vulnerability, though, and a major new survey by the Pew Research Center has rekindled worries about assimilation.

Survey of Jewish AmericansSurvey of Jewish Americans
x
Survey of Jewish Americans
Survey of Jewish Americans
Provocative survey

The survey, titled “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” indicates they have declined as a share of the U.S. population - from about 3 percent in the 1950s to less than 2 percent now.

It also suggests they are becoming less observant, with 32 percent of young Jewish adults describing themselves as “having no religion” and instead identifying on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture.

Survey director Alan Cooperman acknowledges that the findings have triggered alarm.

“The level of interest in this from the Jewish community is greater than I’ve seen in any previous survey that we’ve done,” he said, adding that there is particular concern that young Jews are less likely than their parents to join a synagogue or support Israel.

“Surveys do not predict the future,” Cooperman said, “but it does raise the question, are those younger Jews going to become more attached to Israel as they get older? Or is the American Jewish population going to become less attached to Israel?”

Intermarriage among Jewish AmericansIntermarriage among Jewish Americans
x
Intermarriage among Jewish Americans
Intermarriage among Jewish Americans
Jewish hertiage

Around 58 percent of Jews are marrying out of the faith and, Cooperman noted, “intermarriage is correlated with lower religiosity.”

Still, Cooperman said Jews are admired by almost all religious groups in America. “Even many Christian groups indicate warmer feelings toward Jews than they do toward other Christian groups in the United States,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden - a Catholic - recently praised Jews for their contributions to American culture and society, and their key roles in movements for justice and equality.

“The truth is that Jewish heritage, Jewish culture, Jewish values are such an essential part of who we are that it’s fair to say that Jewish heritage is American heritage,” he said, noting that one out of every three American Nobel laureates has been Jewish.

Still, many Jews worry that influence may be on the wane.

Heidi Lamar grew up in the liberal Reform Jewish movement and later turned to Orthodoxy. She believes the liberal branches of her faith have no future because of intermarriage and low birth rates.

“I believe that you’re going to see Reform and Conservative Judaism just dying out,” she said after watching a presentation of the survey at a local community center.

It carried a different lesson for Conservative Rabbi Marvin Bash. “It indicates how much more we have to try to develop committed Jews,” he said.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
December 31, 2013 12:44 PM
Assymilation and secularism doesn`t explain mass Jewish anti-Zionism.The anti-semitism and Israel-hate in America and abroad does explain.Jews simply doesn`t want to be Israel-firsters.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More