The Pew Survey Reanalyzed: More Bad News, but a Glimmer of Hope

Last year’s survey of American Jews brought dire news—rising intermarriage, falling birthrates, dwindling congregations. Our reanalysis confirms the message, and complicates it.

November 2, 2014 | Jack Wertheimer, Steven M. Cohen
About the author: Jack Wertheimer is professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary. His latest book, The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice their Religion Today, has been issued recently as a paperback. Steven M. Cohen is a research professor at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.

The historic Eldridge Street Synagogue on New York City’s Lower East Side. Flickr/Wasabi Bob.

A year has now elapsed since the Pew Research Center released its “Portrait of Jewish Americans,” based on the first national survey of its kind in over a decade. Conducted by a leading “fact tank,” as Pew describes itself, and based on the responses of over 5,000 individuals identifying themselves as Jews or claiming some other connection, real or imagined, with Jewishness, the report sparked numerous articles summarizing its key findings and commenting on their significance. It also prompted intense discussions within Jewish institutions, from synagogues to Jewish federations and communal agencies.

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now