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'Disaffection from Judaism' Photo: Reuters
'Disaffection from Judaism' Photo: Reuters

US survey: Number of religious Jews drops sharply

Study shows number of American Jews who define themselves as religiously observant has dropped by 20% in last two decades; Jews more likely to be secular than Americans in general

Associated Press
Published: 08.09.09, 10:37 / Israel Jewish Scene

The number of American Jews who consider themselves religiously observant has dropped by more than 20% over the last two decades, as the share of Jews who consider themselves secular has risen, according to a survey.


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The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that around 3.4 million American Jews call themselves religious — out of a general Jewish population of about 5.4 million.


The number of Jews who identify themselves as only culturally Jewish has risen from 20% in 1990 to 37% last year, according to the study. In the same period, the number of all US adults who said they had no religion rose from 8% to 15%.


Jews are more likely to be secular than Americans in general, the researchers said.


About half of all US Jews — including those who consider themselves religiously observant — claim in the survey that they have a secular worldview and see no contradiction between that outlook and their faith, according to the study's authors.


Researchers attribute the trends among American Jews to the high rate of intermarriage and "disaffection from Judaism" in the United States.


The survey of more than 900 self-identified Jews has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


The broader findings of the American Religious Identification Survey, based at Trinity College in Hartford, had been released last spring. The study began in 1990 and has been conducted about once-a-decade ever since.


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