According to a new study by the Pew Research Center the vast majority of American Jews say that they are proud to be Jewish, but the study also suggests that the definition of what that identification implies is rapidly changing. The study found that one-in-five Jews (22%) describe themselves has having no religion.
The number of Americans with Jewish ancestry or upbringing, who consider themselves to be Jewish, while self-identifying as agnostic, atheist or having no particular religion, appears to be rising.
Pew Forum says, “The changing nature of Jewish identity stands out sharply when the survey’s results are analyzed by generation. Fully 93% of Jews in the aging Greatest Generation identify as Jewish on the basis of religion (called “Jews by religion” in this report); just 7% describe themselves as having no religion (“Jews of no religion”). By contrast, among Jews in the youngest generation of U.S. adults – the Millennials – 68% identify as Jews by religion, while 32% describe themselves as having no religion and identify as Jewish on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture.”
The findings in this study also suggest that the shift in religious identity among American Jews is merely a microcosm of a shift in attitudes towards religion in the broader American public.
The article continues, “This shift in Jewish self-identification reflects broader changes in the U.S. public. Americans as a whole – not just Jews – increasingly eschew any religious affiliation. Indeed, the share of U.S. Jews who say they have no religion (22%) is similar to the share of religious “nones” in the general public (20%), and religious disaffiliation is as common among all U.S. adults ages 18-29 as among Jewish Millennials (32% of each).”
The study goes on to analyze data relating to the reasons behind this observable shift in Jewish identity in America. It, also examines data from all aspects of Jewish life from child-rearing to standing on the state of Israel. To read the full article from the Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project, click here.