Denominational identity has traditionally been a common metric of Jewish identification. Two national studies, the 2013 Pew study of American Jewry and the 2017 PRRI study of religion in America, showed that those aged 18-29 were less likely to hold a denominational identity than older age cohorts. This findings reflected in a number of more detailed demographic studies of major Jewish communities, and reflect a general shift in American religious identity among post-Boomers. 13,14
Another common yardstick has been synagogue membership. Here too, we see a drop in membership among the young adult cohort. However, when looking at other markers, such as programming participation, home observance of Jewish traditions like Shabbat meals or Passover Seders, and informal markers such as keeping up with news on Israel or Jewish culture, we see that young adults are often as interested in being Jewish as their older counterparts.
The community studies’ authors devised an alternative and perhaps more relevant method to measure and characterize Jewish identity. Utilizing Latent Class Analysis (LCA), the authors distinguish between five involvement levels ranging from low, moderate (both institutional and cultural), and high involvement. These classifications take into account a range of practical behaviors that cut across denominational and organizational boundaries. Through this prism, one can see a shift, but not necessarily a net decline in identity or behavior.15 While there are some signs of weakening, there are signs of stability and even some signs of strengthening.