Survey of the US Jewish Population

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Today’s post isn’t about a Ketubah or Ketubot so much as modern American Jews in general.

There has just been a serious survey of the American Jewish population and the key findings, as they related to Orthodox and other observant Jews is:

– We are about 10% of the US population
– This is substantially lower than a century ago
– Our portion of the population is expected to shoot up over the next decades

In short, there was a vast reformation among the Orthodox Jews during much of the 20th century. But that seems to have come to a clear end. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Jews are having many, many more kids than secular Jews (plus, marrying out substantially less) — therefore, our portion of the population is expected to shoot up.

The article goes on to make some excellent points:

While around half of those surveyed who were raised Orthodox say they have left the movement, the “falloff from Orthodoxy appears to be declining” and due to a high birthrate, the Orthodox “share of the Jewish population [is expected to] grow.”

However, the numbers may not tell the entire story, wrote Rabbi Eliyahu Fink of the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice Beach, California.

“Think about the orthodox Jewish friends and family you know. Does it make sense to say that over half of them are no longer orthodox,” he asked. “83% of people raised as orthodox Jews under the age of 30 stay…So the people who were raised orthodox and no longer are orthodox are mostly older people,” Fink said.

The numbers could signify “a shift in who attends orthodox schools,” he mused. “In other words, 20-30 years ago it was far more likely for a family to send a child to an orthodox school and identify as orthodox even if they were not totally observant of halacha. There was more cross-pollination and there were fewer non-orthodox options. So you wind up with more people from previous generations identifying as being raised orthodox even though they weren’t truly orthodox through and through. This is rarer today because we are more insular and non-orthodox or unaffiliated Jews feel less comfortable in orthodox institutions.”

Read more here

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