web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



What Pew Means For Us


Front-Page-112213

Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.

Pew is regarded as the outstanding center for demographic or population research in the U.S. Its work is highly professional and covers a vast range of subjects. For good reason, its data are carefully scrutinized by government agencies and the media, as well as in academia. We know more about socio-economic trends in this country as a consequence of the objectivity and careful preparation that go into each Pew project.

There is much that is commendable in the report on American Jews. In a sense, the main finding is that as a people we are far less religious than used to be the case and that the process of secularization is dynamic, meaning that when the next major population survey comes around, perhaps in a decade or less, the findings will show American Jewry more removed from any sense of religiosity than it was in 2013.

As one illustration, although for nearly a quarter of a century (or ever since the National Jewish Population Survey of 1990) we have been aware of a frighteningly high rate of intermarriage, Pew documents that outside of Orthodox life the rate for recently married American Jews is now in the seventy percent range. The consequences are enormous and while they may not be felt immediately or even in the near future, ultimately they will take an enormous toll – this despite the pseudo-scholarship of those who somehow view the data as good tidings.

A determined effort is underway to put a good face on the bad news. It is claimed that intermarriage is not as harmful to Jewish continuity as we Orthodox and some others claim. The online magazine Tablet posted an essay last week titled “New Analysis of Pew Data: Children of Intermarriage Increasingly Identify as Jews.” The article informs us that “Pew’s own data show that the growth of the unaffiliated population is the result of the unexpected tendency of most young adults with intermarried parents to identify as Jewish. Instead of a growing population of young adults raised in Jewish households opting out, there appears to be a trend of young adults raised in non-Jewish or partly Jewish households opting in.”

This is bad history, bad sociology, bad demography and a frightening distortion of Judaism. But precisely because intermarriage has spread – and spread it has, as well, to many who are influential in Jewish life – there is an impulse to sugarcoat the bad news. This impulse first took root after NJPS 1990. As the rate of intermarriage has grown, so too has grown the impulse to define intermarriage as not necessarily bad or perhaps even good news.

Pew claims that there are about 6.5 million American Jews, a figure that is considerably higher than what the National Jewish Population Survey showed a decade ago but also somewhat lower than what other demographers, particularly at Brandeis University, have claimed about American Jewry. The disparity in estimates – and that’s what they are for all of the scientism that accompanies our population reports – arises in large measure from the question of who to count as a Jew or, perhaps more precisely, who may be regarded as a Jew in a household that is identified as Jewish. Intermarriage obviously comes into the equation, as does the vexatious question of whether to include persons who were born Jewish but who say that they are not.

It needs to be underscored that for purposes of population research, one Jewish parent – whether the father or mother – is sufficient to establish Jewish identity, provided that the individual self-identities as Jewish. Although it is not in the published report, Pew’s research indicates that there are 2.1 million Americans who have had one or two Jewish parents and yet are not included in the statistics of American Jewry, either because they say they are Christian or adhere to another religion or that they have no religion and do not consider themselves Jewish. This is an astonishing number that is certain to grow.

About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years. He can be contacted at mschick@mindspring.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “What Pew Means For Us”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Betar soccer fans pour out on the field at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, where Hamas planned to carry out a mass-casualty attack.
Hamas Planned Massive Attack at Teddy Soccer Stadium in Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
What, me incite terror? Abba: "The Jews must be barred by any means possible."

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Marvin Schick

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

Front-Page-090514

Although I was not a Zionist, like most others I knew in Agudath Israel in which I was active, I was zionistic.

We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.

Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.

As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.

As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.

A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.

There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/what-pew-means-for-us/2013/11/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: