In a fascinating and lengthy article at CounterPunch, author Lenni Brenner (Jews in America Today, The Lesser Evil) discusses the National Jewish Population Survey 2000/2001 – the full results of which were just recently released to the public.
At the beginning of the article, Brenner demonstrates that the American public as a whole – Jews and Gentiles alike – is quite ignorant of the answers to such basic questions are “How many Jews are there in the USA.”
One of the most surprising hypotheses Brenner puts forth is that according to his calculations, a majority of US Jews now reject Judaism.
The article is very interesting in my opinion, and challenges a lot of common assumptions on such subjects as intermarriage, the actual level of support for Zionism within American Jewry, the higher than average level of secularism amongst American Jews, and Identity Politics. Such recent JewSchool articles as “Not all American Jews back Israel” would have benefited greatly from some of the data in this article.
As high as the rate of intermarriage seems to be (47%), it appears that the answers to questions the NJPS doesn’t ask are even more surprising. Did you know, for example, that 8 out of 10 Jews living with a sexual partner without benefit of clergy is sleeping with a non-Jew? That the percentage of American Jews who are Zionists is steadily decreasing and may be as low as 11%?
The article’s title “The Demographics of American Jews: ‘My people are American. My time is today'” is taken from a George Gershwin quote. Gershwin, who, the article notes, was never even Bar Mitzvahed, said that in 1926.