Photo Credit: Elyaqim Mosheh Adam
Jewish man on the number 1 train, Upper West Side, December 9, 2012.

The Pew Research Center this week released a deep analysis of its 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, which was based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans from all 50 states. In the study, Jews rated as the largest non-Christian community – 1.9%, leading Muslims-0.9%; Buddhists-0.7%; Hindu-0.7%; and “other faiths” – 1.5%.

Incidentally, the U.S. continues to be the most religious Western country, with 3.1% atheists and 4% agnostics.

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The recently released data analysis treated Jews as a whole compared to “Adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish.” They did this with every religious group, but we will focus on Jews, for obvious reasons (hint: look up the name of our publication).

So, let’s get started:

Age distribution among Jews: 18-29 – 22%; 30-49 – 27%; 50-64 – 26%; 65+ – 26%.

Age distribution among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: 18-29 – 23%; 30-49 – 30%; 50-64 – 27%; 65+ – 20%.

This is very encouraging, right off the bat, showing that younger people are more likely than older ones to attach a high value to their Jewish religion. This is, as it turns out, a theme.

It gets a little trickier with the division of the Generational cohort among Jews.

Generational cohort among Jews: Younger Millennial – 13%; Older Millennial – 13%; Generation X – 23%; Baby Boomer – 33%; Silent – 15%; Greatest – 3%.

Generational cohort among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Younger Millennial – 11%; Older Millennial – 15%; Generation X – 27%; Baby Boomer – 32%; Silent – 11%; Greatest – 3%.

Next: gender composition among Americans who identify as Jews.

Gender composition among Jews: Men – 52%; Women – 48%.

Gender composition among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Men – 51%; Women – 49%.

It’s a minute difference, but I’m sure it expresses itself in meaningful ways on an anecdotal basis, as in how hard is it for a committed American Jew to find a committed Jew of the opposite sex.

Racial and ethnic composition among Jews also yield more than minute differences which are likely extremely meaningful.

Racial and ethnic composition among Jews: White – 90%; Black – 2%; Asian – 2%; Latino – 4%; Other/Mixed – 2%.

Racial and ethnic composition among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: White – 85%; Black – 5%; Asian – 2%; Latino – 6%; Other/Mixed – 2%.

How long your family has spent in the US is also vital to your level of commitment to your Jewish heritage. It turns out the longer you’re here, the less committed you become.

Immigrant status among Jews: Immigrants – 12%; Second generation – 22%; Third generation or higher – 67%.

Immigrant status among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Immigrants – 15%; Second generation – 22%; Third generation or higher – 63%.

OK, this one is for the occasional antisemite reading our paper: how much money do American Jews make.

Income distribution among Jews: Less than $30,000 – 16%; $30,000-$49,999 – 15%; $50,000-$99,999 – 24%; $100,000 or more – 44%.

Income distribution among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Less than $30,000 – 24%; $30,000-$49,999 – 14%; $50,000-$99,999 – 22%; $100,000 or more – 40%.

In other words, the less money US Jews have, the more likely they are to adhere to their religious faith.

Good to know.

Now, this one should be interesting: level of education.

Educational distribution among Jews: High school or less – 19%; Some college – 22%; College – 29%; Post-graduate degree – 31% (look at all these smart Jews!).

Educational distribution among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: High school or less – 24%; Some college – 23%; College – 24%; Post-graduate degree – 30%.

It looks like formal education plays a role in Jewish Americans’ devotion – although when it comes to the really smart ones, the Jews with Masters and Ph.D., it’s about the same.

Let’s do marital status. You probably guessed already – big advantage to the religiously committed team.

Marital status among Jews: Married – 56%; Living with a partner – 6%; Divorced/separated – 9%; Widowed – 6%; Never married – 23%.

Marital status among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Married – 65%; Living with a partner – 2%; Divorced/separated – 7%; Widowed – 7%; Never married – 19%.

That was quite predictable, except for the curious discrepancy in widowed spouses – it seems non-committed US Jews may live a little longer…

Here’s another one you could probably guess on your own – parenting.

Parent of children under 18 among Jews: Parent – 26%; Non-parent – 74%.

Parent of children under 18 among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Parent – 38%; Non-parent – 62%.

Clearly, religiously-committed US Jews are more likely to procreate, which sets a statistical trend whereby the future of American Jewry belongs to religious Jews. Get on this train early, I would say.

Now we get to the faith segment of the data, which, obviously, trends in favor of religiously-committed US Jews. Let’s do a couple. How much do they believe in God?

Belief in God among Jews: Absolutely certain – 37%; Fairy certain – 27%; Not too/Not at all certain – 14%; Don’t know – 1%; Don’t believe in God – 17%; Other/Don’t know if they believe in God – 4%.

Belief in God among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Absolutely certain – 75%; Fairy certain – 18%; Not too/Not at all certain – 4%; Don’t know – 1%; Don’t believe in God – 1%; Other/Don’t know if they believe in God – 2%.

Like I said, a whopping difference.

Which introduces the next obvious item – shul attendance.

Attendance at religious services among Jews: At least once a week – 19%; Once or twice a month / a few times a year – 49%; Seldom / Never – 31%; Don’t know – 1%.

Attendance at religious services among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: At least once a week – 47%; Once or twice a month / a few times a year – 41%; Seldom / Never – 12%; Don’t know – 1%.

OK, two more, which are a little obscure but at the same time very telling.

First, what US Jews are filled with awe about Creation? Here goes:

Frequency of feeling wonder about the universe among Jews: At least once a week – 42%; Once or twice a month – 18%; several times a year – 15%; seldom / never – 23%; Don’t know – 1%.

Frequency of feeling wonder about the universe among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: At least once a week – 53%; Once or twice a month – 16%; several times a year – 10%; seldom / never – 21%; Don’t know – 1%.

I don’t have anything clever to say about the above score, other than to confess that I probably get my feelings of wonder about the universe once a month, always on a Monday, at 9 AM.

Finally, and this should be good, morality.

Belief in absolute standards for right and wrong among Jews: There are clear standards for what is right and wrong – 21%; Right or wrong depends on the situation – 76%; neither/both equally – 2%; Don’t know – 1%.

And the winner is, although with a disappointing score for people who believe in the Ten Commandments and all that:

Belief in absolute standards for right and wrong among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: There are clear standards for what is right and wrong – 29%; Right or wrong depends on the situation – 66%; neither / both equally – 4%; Don’t know – 1%.

Yes, dear reader, religiously-committed US Jews are almost as morally relativistic as their non-religious brothers and sisters, and if I were their teacher, I would have failed the whole bunch of them. The recognition of Right and Wrong should be a fundamental value for religious Jews: whatever the Torah says to do is Right, what it says not to do is Wrong. There are, obviously, methods of mitigating the harshness this may introduce into our lives (such as selling your storage of a thousand tons of wheat rather than destroying them), but moral relativism is simply not acceptable.

Let me conclude with another zinger: do Jews believe in Hell? Here you go:

Belief in Hell among Jews: Believe – 22%; Don’t believe – 70%; Other / don’t know – 7%.

Belief in Hell among adults who say religion is very important who are Jewish: Believe – 40%; Don’t believe – 51%; Other / don’t know – 9%.

Have a wonderful intermediary Passover week and a fantastic last holiday.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.