We’ve compiled a list of helpful links to commentary about the recent Pew survey on Jewish Identity. (All links browsed between 10/6/2013 and 10/13/2013.) We encourage you to poke around in this list, read a bit from every category, and get an idea of what appears to be important to the various streams of the Jewish world. This survey represents the first ‘snapshot’ of Jewish identity in America since 2000; the 2000 study conducted by the United Jewish Federations was widely viewed as flawed. The Pew Research Center, with the encouragement from the Forward’s editor-in-chief Jane Eisner, took on the project. The Survey Results are housed at the NYT website.
The American general press was first to grapple with the results of the survey. Individual rabbis from each movement and the established Jewish Press then chimed in with responses. As of this date, no single movement or rabbinical association has come up with a press release about the PEW study, but individual rabbis have taken on the task of responding. In our own movement, Laura Duhan Kaplan and Rachel Barenblat have published responses. Most commentators view the survey results as ‘bad for the Jews,’ but many see a kind of silver lining in those things the survey says are going well for us. [e.g., while intermarriage is increasing and parents are not raising Jewish children, there’s also a strong sense of Jewish identification among the people who claim to be Jewish-but-not-religious]. It seems that only the Jewish Renewal commentators are optimistic about what the survey might mean for the future of Jewish life among the ‘nones’ (those who have a cultural rather than a religious Jewish identity).
- Jewish American Generational Divide [audio] The Brian Lehrer Show
Jewish Renewal Rabbis
- Laura Duhan Kaplan “A New Spiritual Comfort Zone“
- Velveteen Rabbi (Rachel Barenblat), “Opportunity Knocks in Pew Results.” [one of several brief articles, in a series in Religion Dispatches. Here’s a link to the whole series.
In the Conservative Movement, we’ve heard from Rabbi David Booth of Kol Emeth, “Go Forth and the Pew Research Survey“, and while Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek’s Yom Kippur sermon, “Agility (2013),”was written before the survey results were posted, it is somewhat prophetic, in that it could easily be viewed as a response to the survey results. In the linked post in this sentence, a couple of Orthodox commentators critique the Pew study. (They’re not too worried, except that they feel that Hasidim may not have been counted accurately.) A Reconstructionist opinion is offered by Rabbi Andrew Jacobs in his Blog Shalom. He’s worried, and says that the structures of Jewish life need to change to ‘invite people to join us.’
- Rabbi Leon Morris, the Liberal Reform Rabbi of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor NY published his opinion in Ha’aretz: “Religion Matters: Beware the American Cultural Jew.”
- HaAretz “A Special Place in Hell” Blog by Bradley Burston, titled: Finally, studies reveal what U.S. Jews, Israelis may have in common: Post-Rabbinic Judaism
- The Times of Israel “Rise of ‘Jews of no religion’ most significant find of Pew study, says director“
- JTA: Pew Survey of US Jews: Soaring Intermarriage, Assimilation Rates
- Jewish Daily Forward: Jews Bound by Shared Beliefs Even as Markers of Faith Fade, Pew Study Shows
- “Beware as the Spin Begins” by synagogue consultant Hayim Herring
- Blogger “A Secular Jew in Indianapolis” has this to say: You People with the Handwringing