The Pew Research Center just released a major 200 page study of American Jewry including both demography and affiliation. If the Jewish community could not afford or agree on a major study, then the Pew foundation picked up the slack. Here are some of the statistic that I found interesting. The Forward has a nice general article that shows thought and has comments from professionals.
Pew estimates that there are 6.7 million American Jews overall, including 5.3 million adults.
Jews make up a smaller percentage of America due to Hispanic immigration, and the percentage of Jews by religion among Hispanics is even lower than in the general public. On the other hand, there have been two major waves of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in recent decades, and as a result,the share of Jewish adults who are foreign-born today (14%) is only a little lower than the share of all U.S.
Despite the changes in Jewish identity in America, 94% of U.S. Jews say they are proud to be Jewish. Three-quarters of U.S. Jews also say they have “a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”
The survey tolls the end of the triumphalist sense of an Orthodox return. The losses from Orthodoxy are several times larger than the gains. The survey finds that approximately one-quarter of people who were raised Orthodox have since become Conservative or Reform Jews, Just 7% of Jews raised in the Reform movement have become Conservative or Orthodox, and just 4% of those raised in Conservative Judaism have become Orthodox. This was despite the millions spent on an army of kiruv workers during those years.
The big news is that 17% of the 20-somethings have left Orthodoxy but a whopping 43% left Orthodoxy from the millennial and gen x generations, and these younger generations were raised after the triumphal rise of a more committed Orthodoxy. Old news was that 59% of the baby boomers raised Orthodox left, but that was a different era when many were non-observant Orthodox to start.
Rates of intermarriage among Jews are perhaps most directly comparable to rates of intermarriage among other relatively small U.S. religious groups, such as Mormons and Muslims. Same basic statistics no more or less just proportional to our numbers.
One-in-ten Jews identify with Orthodox Judaism (10%), including 6% who belong to Ultra-Orthodox groups and 3% who are Modern Orthodox. This would yield 670, 000 Orthodox Jews. 202, 000 Modern Orthodox, 403, 000 Ultra-Orthodox. (From other studies we have a percentage of over 75% of this Hasidim and less than 25% yeshivish, maybe as low as 16%. The yeshiva world makes much noise for its size.). and we have 101, 000 of other including Sfardim, Edot Hamizrah, Israelis, immigrants from Latin America and the Former Soviet Union who self-identify as Orthodox but not as Modern Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox.
Here is a shocker. When asked: Can you be Jewish and not believe in God? The following numbers said yes. Notice that Modern Orthodoxy has the least concern for God. (Hashem Yirachem!)
Ultra-Orthodox 50 Modern Orthodox 70 Conservative 56 Reform 66
When asked about their own belief in God as yes, somewhat/unsure, or no, we have 19% of Modern Orthodox as unsure and 3 % as outright deniers.
Ultra-Orthodox 96 , 2, 1,
Modern 77 19 3
Conservative 41, 46, 9
Reform 29, 47, 20
Here is a little tidbit- only 76% of Ultra-Orthodox avoid handling money on Sabbath
Here is another good tidbit when asked whether they attend a non-Jewish religious services at least few times a year, both Modern and ultra Orthodox have 15% that do, but with note that it is negligible in high density area like Brooklyn. So it is much higher than 15 % in small towns.
Should Homosexuality be accepted? Ultra-Orthodox 20% Modern Orthodox 50%. On one hand, this is a divide between the two groups but at the same time a dividing point in the modern camp.
How many went to college? Ultra-Orthodox 25 Modern 65 Conservative 62 Reform 61. Modern Orthodoxy is the highest but in line with the other denominations.
But the biggest and most significant question is do you have household income of $150,000+, placing you in the top 8%. Ultra-Orthodox 24, Modern 37, Conservative 23, Reform 2 9. Modern Orthodoxy is the wealthiest and living in a disproportionate bubble that is wealthier than Reform.
The demographic of Ultra-Orthodox yields only a 4.1 live birth number and if you remove those who leave Orthodoxy and those who die or never produce children, then we have a rough statistic that a statistical couple would only produce three ultra-Orthodox offspring. A far cry from the false numbers in the kiruv literature.
Finally, the Reform movement is growing and the Conservative movement is shrinking rapidly. But the Forward received a wise email from Prof. Sarna.
For Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish studies at Brandies University who also advised the Pew study, the grim statistics facing the Conservative movement could be good for its members. Comparing the movement’s situation to that of the Orthodox movement in the 1950s and the Reform movement in the ’30s, relative lulls preceding large growth, Sarna said that the apparent collapse could force the movement into creative reinvention. It would be “wise to hedge all predictions,”