Counting Jews, Again. So what?

The just released Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews, has let loose the usual round of teeth gnashing, gloating, critique and analysis. Everybody, it seems, has jumped on the study as a prooftext of what they have been saying all these years anyway. The Conservative movement is doomed. The Orthodox are marching on. The Orthodox aren’t going anywhere—fifty percent of people raised Orthodox are leaving Orthodoxy. The Reform movement is the only movement keeping its numbers. But those numbers aren’t from within the Reform movement, they come from outside—everybody just rolls downhill.

So, in the spirit of this open air of inquiry, I want to suggest that the most important line in the report is found on the bottom of page seven: “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).” Continue reading