An in-depth analysis of the Pew Center’s latest research on American Jews shows that this community’s backbone is continuing to shrink: this group includes those Jews who profess a strong Jewish identity, and who integrated fully into the greater American society, with a high income, broad education and professional achievements. Roughly one-fifth of the American Jewish community belongs to a group identified as “Jews of no religion” (they responded they are of no religion). Around one million Jews in the U.S. identify as “partially Jewish.” Members of this group are “proud” to be Jewish but lack a sense of significant affiliation and commitment to the Jewish people.
- In order to strengthen the central backbone of the American Jewish community, the organized communities should initiate as many Jewish social networks as possible. Moreover, the communities should encourage Jewish education for post bar/bat mitzvah children in Jewish day schools; complementary schools (either in the afternoons or Sundays), summer camps, youth groups, and Israel experience programs, etc. Toward this end, an effort should be made to overcome financial barriers to the expansion of these programs. In addition, the community should consider ways of increasing public (state) funding in areas that are constitutionally permitted. This can include direct underwriting, tax credits, or vouchers.
- Facilitate exchanges between American Jewish schools and those of the Russian-speaking Jewish community in America — the idea being that American Jews can help bolster Judaic studies for the Russian-speaking Jews while benefiting in return from the Russian-Speaking Jews excellence in math and science.
- We recommend conducting an in-depth study of “Jews of no religion” and those who identify as “partially Jewish,” to identify ways to attract these individuals and elicit their greater interest in Judaism and in becoming more connected to the Jewish people. Based on the results of such a study, focused policy recommendations should be formulated.