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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs