Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Jew refering to be religious or to be a people

Not only the Catholic church faces lots of people who do not want to be active in their 'faith' or who perhaps still take part in certain traditional feasts, like child-baptism, first and second communion, but really do not believe in any God or would ever read the Bible.

In Belgium we still do have a very active Jewish community but everywhere in the world we also notice people who call themselves Jew but have no interest in any god whatsoever.

In the United States the number of nonreligious Jews is rising. When you would go around and ask passers by how active they are in their religion, you probably would find many who are not religious at all. According to a new survey of the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project more than one in five so called Jews, saying they are not affiliated with a religion.

The size of the U.S. Jewish population has been a matter of lively debate among academic experts for more than a decade. Because the Pew Research survey involves a representative sample of Jews, rather than a census of all American Jews, it cannot definitively answer the question. However, data from the survey can be used to derive a rough estimate of the size of the U.S. Jewish population. Perhaps even more valuably, the survey illuminates the many different ways in which Americans self-identify as Jewish or partially Jewish, and it therefore provides a sense of how the size of the population varies depending on one’s definition of who is a Jew.

If Jewish refers only to people whose religion is Jewish (Jews by religion), then the survey indicates that the Jewish population currently stands at about 1.8% of the total U.S. adult population, or 4.2 million people. If one includes secular or cultural Jews – those who say they have no religion but who were raised Jewish or have a Jewish parent and who still consider themselves Jewish aside from religion – then the estimate grows to 2.2% of American adults, or about 5.3 million. For the purposes of the analysis in this report, these two groups make up the “net” Jewish population.

In traditional Jewish law (halakha), Jewish identity is passed down through matrilineal descent, and the survey finds that about 90% of Jews by religion and 64% of Jews of no religion – a total of about 4.4 million U.S. adults – say they have a Jewish mother. Additionally, about 1.3 million people who are not classified as Jews in this report (49% of non-Jews of Jewish background) say they have a Jewish mother.  {Since 1983, the Reform movement formally has embraced a more expansive definition of who is a Jew, accepting children born of either a Jewish father or a Jewish mother if the children are raised Jewish and engage in public acts of Jewish identification, such as acquiring a Hebrew name, studying Torah and having a bar or bat mitzvah. See the Reform movement’s March 15, 1983, Resolution on Patrilineal Descent.}

Jewish leaders say the new survey spotlights several unique obstacles for the future of their faith. You can wonder when even among religious Jews, most of them say it's not necessary to believe in God to be Jewish, and less than one in three say religion is very important to their lives. Like in Catholicism and protestantism in the Western World, the people living in a luxury world are more interested in material wealth than in spiritual richness.

Though Greg Smith, director of religious surveys for the Pew Research Center says:
"The fact that many Jews tell us that religion is not particularly important to them doesn't mean that being Jewish is not important to them."
The long-term decline in the Jewish by religion share of the population results partly from differences in the median age and fertility of Jews compared with the public at large. As early as 1957, Jews by religion were significantly older and had fewer children than the U.S. population as a whole. At that time, the median age of Jews older than age 14 was 44.5 years, compared with 40.4 years among the population as a whole, and Jewish women ages 15-44 had 1.2 children on average, compared with 1.7 children among this age group in the general public. {The 1957 Current Population Survey results were published in Goldstein, S. 1969. “Socioeconomic Differentials Among Religious Groups in the United States.” American Journal of Sociology, volume 74, issue 6, pages 612-631, and Mueller, S. A., and Lane, A. V. 1972. “Tabulations from the 1957 Current Population Survey on Religion: A Contribution to the Demography of American Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, volume 11, issue 1, pages 76-98. Unfortunately, raw data from the 1957 survey were destroyed, so it is not possible to reanalyze them using the various age categories used in the new survey. In the 1957 survey, completed interviews were obtained for roughly 35,000 households.}

Today, Jews by religion still are considerably older than U.S. adults as a whole, although they are similar to the general public in the number of children ever born. (See discussion of median age and fertility in the Age and Fertility sections in Chapter 2.)

Since 2000, the share of American adults who say their religion is Jewish has generally ranged between 1.2% and 2% in national surveys. 
The estimate from the new Pew Research survey that there are approximately 5.3 million “net” Jewish adults and 1 million children who are being raised exclusively as Jewish (or 1.3 million children being raised at least partly Jewish) falls roughly in the middle of these prior estimates – somewhat higher than DellaPergola’s numbers, somewhat lower than the Dashefsky-Sheskin figure and fairly close to the Saxe-Tighe estimates.

The estimate that Jews by religion make up 1.8% of U.S. adults also is consistent with the results of Pew Research surveys over the past five years and close to the findings of other recent national surveys (such as Gallup polls and the General Social Surveys conducted by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago) that use similar, close-ended questions about religious affiliation. {A close-ended question provides the respondent with a list of possible responses to choose from. Pew Research’s typical wording is: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else or nothing in particular.” Other studies, such as the National Jewish Population Surveys (NJPS) and American Religious Identification Surveys (ARIS) have used open-ended questions about religious affiliation – offering no specific response options – and the results therefore are not directly comparable. Open-ended questions about religious affiliation tend to find smaller numbers of Jews by religion. See, for example, Schulman, M. A., chair. NJPS 2000-2001 Review Committee. 2003. “National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001: Study Review Memo;” and Tighe, E., Saxe, L., and Livert, D. 2006. “Research synthesis of national survey estimates of the U.S. Jewish population,” presented at the 61st Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.}

In aggregated Pew Research polling, the Jewish by religion share of the population has ranged in recent years between 1.5% (in 2009) and 1.9% (in 2010). GSS estimates have ranged from 1.5% (in 2012) to 1.7% (in 2008). Combining its own surveys conducted since 2008, Pew Research finds that a weighted average of 1.7% of U.S. adults identify as Jews by religion, while the GSS and Gallup find 1.6% identifying as Jews by religion.

According to the survey, a full 16 percent of Orthodox Jews “attend non-Jewish religious services at least a few times a year.” The proportion is identical for Modern Orthodox Jews and what the survey describes as “ultra-Orthodox Jews” — 15 percent for both sub-groups. Shockingly, that’s slightly higher than the proportions of Reform Jews (15 percent) and non-denominational Jews (12%) who report attending non-Jewish religious services with similar frequency.

Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Daily Forward, said she is not surprised that the study found relatively low interest in Jewish religious beliefs.
"We are a people very much defined by what we do, rather than what we believe," she said.
But Eisner said she is concerned that millennials are less likely to donate to Jewish charities, care strongly about Israel or belong to Jewish groups.
"It's great that these non-religious Jews feel pride in being Jewish," Eisner said. "What worries me is their tenuous ties to the community."


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