Pew Research Study of American Jews, 2021

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    Some of the results of the Pew Research Study of American Jews in 2021 indicate:

    There are 7.5 million Jews in the United States, making up 2.5% of the U.S. population and making the U.S. have the largest population of Jews in the world, with the State of Israel being second with 6.9 million Jews.

    Most American Jews under the age of 30 are not Reform or Conservative. The Orthodox proportion of the under 30 category is 17%.

    10% of American Jews (and a larger proportion of younger Jews) support BDS. 43% oppose it.

    75% of non-Orthodox Jews who got married since 2010 married a Goy. 42% of all married American Jews are married to a Goy. (Though, the 42% includes Orthodox, who virtually never intermarry, so the total for the non-Orthodox is a majority.)


    Something [4th piece] tells me: at the “poll” were involved very lefty like Forward or current JTA (- as opposed to their historic standards), etc.


    Pew has nothing to do with Forward, they do respectable polls of US population.

    Of course, numbers are skewed based on who they count as Jews, given intermarriage rate in previous generations, nebach. So, now “75%” includes many legit marriages between two upstanding bnei Noach who are confused to think they are Jewish. Maybe, we can, l’tzad schus, think of Reform as a bnei Noach movement. Although, they may be struggling with ever min hachai from the time of the treife banquet …

    We also need to downgrade 7.5 to some actual number, making Israel a place of most Jews (I presume Israel uses halachik definition in their count excluding non-Jews who came under the law of return).

    But the bottom line from Pew is that:
    R- intermarries dramatically
    C- ages and has no children
    O- world grows fast, but organically only. Not many switches from R, C to O, despite Chabad and yeshivot for BTs, and Kars for Kids heroic efforts …
    maybe someone can look and compare changes between denominations in previous Pew reports.
    I skipped “unaffiliated” here, don’t know how to analyze them


    Most surveys conducted by the secular community confuse “Jews” with persons of Jewish descent. One should definitely exclude those persons of Jewish descent who don’t have a clear claim of being Jewish based on matrilineal descent. One should probably exclude those who have been so assimilated that they are not distinguishable from the general population (I suggest such matters as observance of Shabbos and Kashrus are key factors in deciding whether one has assimilated).

    If you found some DNA from Sinai (when the Jewish people began), you would probably discover that almost everyone is of Jewish descent (which would be true of anyone from 3500 years ago – at this point all humans are related to all others-remember Noach is about 4500 years ago, and we hold everyone is descended from him).


    It is true that they count patrilineal descent as Jewish (if the person self-identifies as Jewish) even if maternally (and therefore halachicly) they’re non-Jewish.

    But, on the other hand, those who do not identify as Jewish, even though maternally they are Jewish, are counted as non-Jews even though they are halachicly Jewish. Even if their great-grandmother married a Goy and all her descendants identified as Christian, they’re all Jewish if from the maternal line.

    Menachem Shmei

    >>>One should probably exclude those who have been so assimilated that they are not distinguishable from the general population (I suggest such matters as observance of Shabbos and Kashrus are key factors in deciding whether one has assimilated).

    New Pew results: 100% of Jews keep Shabbos. 100% of Jews keep Kosher. 100% of Jews are orthodox.

    Besides for the fact that it would be a lie, what would be the point of the survey anyway?


    you can probably use Pew numbers of intermarriage going back to the 50s to model what percentage of people they ask are actually Jewish.


    but Pew is not the only one playing these games. One Israeli politico told me that he gets briefings from US federations over years that always show about same number of Jews – except their criteria of who counts as Jewish is being relaxed. He asked to use any criterion they want – and show him how numbers change over time according to that fixed criterion, but got no answer.


    Here’s some more figures from this Pew survey:

    11% of American Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are Chareidi/Ultra-Orthodox. An even larger percentage of those under age 18 are.

    The earlier mentioned 17% figure is of American Jews between ages 18 and 29, are Orthodox. The Orthodox figure for all under 30 year olds (including under 18) is much higher. Reform are 29% and Conservative is 8% of American Jews between the ages of 18 and 29. Their numbers are even lower for those under 18. Within Judaism, denominational switching has led to the largest net losses for the Conservative movement, which, in the 1950s and 1960s, was the largest branch of American Jewry. For every person who has joined Conservative Judaism, nearly three people who were raised in the Conservative movement have left it.

    Orthodox has the highest retention rate of all streams. The Orthodox retention rate had been much higher among people raised in Orthodox Judaism in recent decades than among those who came of age as Orthodox Jews in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Conservative has the lowest retention rate, with only 41% of people brought up Conservative still remaining Conservative. (30% of those raised Conservative became Reform.) 85% of today’s Orthodox Jewish adults were raised Orthodox and 15% of today’s Orthodox Jews came from outside Orthodoxy, including 5% who were raised as Conservative and 2% who were raised as Reform.

    The survey also indicates that fertility among Orthodox Jews is more than twice as high as among non-Orthodox Jews. Orthodox Jewish adults report having an average of 3.3 children, while non-Orthodox Jews have an average of 1.4 children. Orthodox Jews also are five years younger, on average, when they give birth to their first child (23.6 vs. 28.6 among non-Orthodox Jews). This includes young adults in their prime childbearing years, who may give birth to additional children in the future that are not accounted for in these figures. Orthodox Jews tend to live in much larger households than Jews who identify with other branches or streams of American Judaism. The average Orthodox household in the survey contains 2.0 children, compared with 0.3 children per household among Conservative Jews and 0.5 children per household among Reform Jews. Orthodox Jews (median age of 35 among adults) are substantially younger than Conservative Jews (62) and Reform Jews (53).

    75% of Orthodox Jews said they were Republicans or leaned Republican. Nearly eight-in-ten Orthodox Jews (77%) rated Donald Trump as friendly toward Jews in the U.S., while six-in-ten said the same about the Republican Party. Conversely, only 22% of Orthodox Jews rated the Democratic Party as friendly toward U.S. Jews. 86% of Orthodox Jews rated then-President Donald Trump’s handling of policy toward Israel as “excellent” or “good”. Orthodox Jews said the policies towards Israel by a) Donald Trump: 94% friendly, 4% neutral, <1% unfriendly; b) Republicans: 73% friendly, 22% neutral, 1% unfriendly; c) Democrats: 17% friendly, 25% unfriendly, 54% unfriendly. 68% of Orthodox Jews approved of Trump’s immigration policies.

    Nearly all Orthodox Jews in the survey (95%) describe being Jewish as very important in their lives. Orthodox Jews are among the most highly religious groups in U.S. society in terms of the share who say religion is very important in their lives (86%) – along with Black Protestants (78%) and White evangelicals (76%). Jews who did not obtain college degrees are much more inclined to say that religion is very important in their lives. The observance of halacha is particularly important to Orthodox Jews, 83% of whom deem it essential. Fully three-quarters of the Orthodox say they find a great deal of meaning and fulfillment in their religion, exceeded only by the share who feel that way about spending time with their families (86%). And 93% of Orthodox Jews say they believe in G-d as described in the Torah, compared with a quarter of Jews overall (which means even less than a quarter of the non-Orthodox.) 95% of Orthodox Jews say they keep kosher, 24% of Conservative Jews say they keep kosher and 5% of Reform Jews say they keep kosher.

    About half of Orthodox Jews in the U.S. say they have “not much” (23%) or “nothing at all” (26%) in common with Jews in the Reform movement. Reform Jews generally reciprocate those feelings: Six-in-ten say they have not much (39%) or nothing at all (21%) in common with the Orthodox.

    Orthodox Jews are much more likely to experience or be victims of antisemitism than non-Orthodox Jews.

    66% of American Jews identify as Ashkenazic, 3% identify as Sephardic and 1% identify as Mizrachi.

    25% of Conservative Jews, 12% of Reform Jews and 8% of Jews who do not identify with any particular branch of Judaism say they at least sometimes participate in activities or services with Chabad. One-quarter of Chabad participants are Orthodox Jews (24%), and another quarter identify with Conservative Judaism (26%). About half of Chabad participants are from other streams or don’t affiliate with any particular branch of Judaism

    One-in-four American Jews say they have family incomes of $200,000 or more (23%). By comparison, just 4% of U.S. adults report household incomes at that level. At the other end of the spectrum, one-in-ten U.S. Jews report annual household incomes of less than $30,000, versus 26% of Americans overall. Half of U.S. Jews described their financial situation as living “comfortably” (53%), compared with 29% of all U.S. adults. At the same time, 15% of Jewish adults said they had difficulty paying for medical care for themselves or their family in the past year, 11% said they had difficulty paying their rent or mortgage, 8% said they had a difficult time paying for food, and 19% had trouble paying other types of bills or debts.

    About four-in-ten Jewish adults (38%) live in the Northeast – roughly double the share of U.S. adults overall who live in that census region (18%). A quarter of Jewish Americans reside in the West (25%), and a similar share live in the South (27%). Just one-in-ten Jewish adults live in the Midwest. Among the Orthodox, a much larger proportion live in the Northeast.


    Don’t want spoil a good story, but who are the 5% of O Jews who do not eat kosher? Either they are fasting or just pressed the wring button


    Typo – the above sub-sentence should have read:

    “c) Democrats: 17% friendly, 25% neutral, 54% unfriendly.”

    Menachem Shmei

    The whole report on orthodox Jews is a joke!

    If there are Jews who don’t keep kosher, don’t believe in G-d as is in Torah and don’t consider halacha essential – what makes them orthodox!?


    AAQ: I know of people who call themselves Orthodox Jews who do not keep kosher except at home, and keep Shabbos only because of their wives and kids. It’s a terrible statistic these days, but they exist. My sister had a neighbor IN WILLIAMSBURG who told them that he eats at McDonald’s all the time, and only builds a sukkah because of his wife and kids. Plus people in Williamsburg know of others like that, and I’m sure Williamsburg is not exceptional. For these people, the geshmak has left Yiddishkeit, sadly.


    AAQ – Good point on the 5% of O not keeping kosher.

    I looked at the stats for ownership of Jewish items and it says Menorah ownership O-95%,
    Mezzuzah O-96%,
    Hebrew language siddur O-96%.

    Something seems “off” with that last 4% to 5%?

    Menachem Shmei


    I am aware of this unfortunate reality.

    But those people are not orthodox. They PRETEND to be orthodox, just as they PRETEND to keep kosher.

    If they admit that they don’t actually keep kosher, they are admitting that they are not actually orthodox.

    Anyone who claims to be orthodox must claim to keep kosher.


    Pew is probably one of the best survey research firms in the U.S. The questions they asked were clearly not sufficiently detailed to drill down into whether someone who considers themselves “orthodox” really meets our understanding of the term. Sometime asking these questions does not ask to see proof of milah, whether the mesader kiddushin was qualified to do so, whether there is a “jewish” mother going back several generations etc. Nor do they confront those being surveyed with the inherent contradiction of keeping kosher at home but eating treifus outside the home etc.
    The point here is to highlight broad trends over time, not to provide a statistically accurate snapshot in time.


    The poll honestly just feel extremely inaccurate, and I’m guessing the biggest cause for the faulty proportions is them included tons of non-Jews as others have pointed out.

    Only 10% of Jews live in the midwest? The region which includes Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, etc. There’s no way it has less than half of the “west” which is basically just LA and San Francisco, or the “south” which is basically just Florida.

    If 75% of non-Orthodox Jews marry goyim, then at least half of those are producing non-Jewish kids. The proportions of non-Orthodox young people are being massively overestimated.


    Dear Neville,

    I didn’t look at the study yet, but two easy points.

    1. Those cities in the Midwest are all on the small side. (Maybe except for Chicago.) One can know every shul and they only have a handful of kosher establishments.

    2. It is more likely that one that intermarries, marries later and has much less kids. Those who marry-in in an assimilating society see the need to repopulate.


    I don’t understand.

    These polls are generally about what people whoare part of a certain segment of society are doing/thinking/etc. If someone is part of an Orthodox Shul and drives on Shabbos to eat in a Burger KIng, then for the purposes of this survey he is Orthodox.

    In general, I feel that there is a lot of denial about what goes on in full in a community.


    Using #s from wikipedia Jewish population by metro area (#s in thousands) using top 10 US metro areas just for a ballpark figure.

    Northeast: 2,279
    NYC 1,600
    Boston 248
    D.C. 216
    Philly 215

    West: 847
    LA 519
    San Fran 228
    San Diego 100

    Midwest: 292
    Chicago 292

    South: 239
    Atlanta 120
    Miami 119

    Not in the top 10:
    Cleveland 87
    Detroit 72
    Cincinnati 27
    Milwaukee 26
    Columbus 23

    NCB – I think you are underestimating the numbers on the West Coast even if you assume there are a lot of questionably Jewish people in interfaith families out there.


    Menachem, Neville, AAQ, etc.: The poll very clearly notes that they accept self-identification regarding purposes of streams/affiliation (Orthodox, Conservative, etc.) If the respondent claims to be Orthodox but eats non-kosher when traveling out of town, that’s what the survey will reflect. Motcha’s point, I’m sure, plays a role in that 4-5% of self-identifying Orthodox who admit to practicing or believing in unorthodox ways.

    Neville, the geographical information is pertaining to ALL self-identified American Jews, including the majority of non-Orthodox Jews.


    n0mesora: Neither of your “easy points” are necessarily true. The only big community in the entire south is Miami, which is probably cancelled out and then some by Chicago. The second largest community in the south would be dwarfed by Cleveland. That statistic is just observably untrue. And this is all without even considering that the midwest would actually have a sizable non-Orthodox population, whereas I doubt the south does given that most liberal Jews are irrationally terrified of southerners.

    “If someone is part of an Orthodox Shul and drives on Shabbos to eat in a Burger KIng, then for the purposes of this survey he is Orthodox.”

    We get that. We’re saying that makes it a pretty useless or at least flawed survey.


    Re: what makes them orthodox(they are not observant)?

    For most of the 20th century Jews in America self identified or were counted based on the ‘denomination’ of the synagogue the grew up in or (still) belonged to.
    Many members worked on Shabbos, ate treif, and didn’t perform most Mitzvah. But, they showed up on the Yomin Noraim, perhaps parking a block from shul and their dues kept the congregation functioning. By the 1990s many ‘orthodox’ synagogues had majority of members living in the suburbs and not frum. The shul functioned with the remnant of the members who remained in the old neighborhoods. Other synagogues moved to the right and Euro-traditional Jews no longer felt comfortable and if not needing cemetery privileges (a very OOT system) stopped paying dues. But if they didn’t join a non-orthodox synagogue they would self-identify as orthodox.
    The 21st century is a whole new ball game in terms of self identification. So many synagogues have folded. Here in CT I know of 8 orthodox synagogues that were founded between 1882 and 1920 that could no longer function. The buildings were taken over by Chabad(torahs and all) and while the liturgy and ritual may be orthodox, the assorted people who show up to Shabbos Services at 10 am are not what you or I would consider orthodox. No daily minyan exists, but those people who frequent the establishments will label themselves orthodox if asked.


    Dear Neville,

    I wasn’t thinking of the south as much as the west. I was just making easy statements. I don’t know If they are true.

    The South had some really old communities until recently. Although they mostly fell apart, I suspect that most of them scattered instead of migrating. If you really go into the sticks down south, you would see what real hatred is. But anyways, you meant Liberal Northeastern Jews. And there are many non-liberal assimilated Jews.

    I thought the point of these surveys are to understand the makeup of Jewish Communities. As in what the people are actually like. Not what the definitions are. I feel lost on this thread.


    An interesting point from the survey is that it demonstrates that Orthodox Jews as a whole, not just Chareidim, are very Republican, very politically conservative, very supportive of President Trump and largely disapprove of the Democrats.



    Please change the word are to were in your post. The PEW poll was back in 2021.
    Many people who may have been very supportive of former President Trump no longer are.

    Says a Democrat whose politics you may disapprove but a person of whom you don’t disapprove. That is a very important difference.
    I feel that way about you


    Dear CTL,

    The polling does not back up your statement. Though face to face conversations do. So I don’t know. But nobody I know switched their preference to the Democrats.


    Shall we ask pew to add some subcategories for Orthodox Jews?

    _Frum frum
    _Frum lite
    _Bad Jew

    Did I miss any?



    Nowhere did I state people switched their preference to the Democrats. I stated that many who were supportive of Trump no longer are.
    I am the lone D in my daily minyan. The rest all voted for Trump in 2020. Many have said they didn’t not support his effort to be elected in 2024. Many feel his actions in trying to overturn the Georgia results and January 6 warrant prison time. They all reman Rs.


    @ujm “Orthodox Jews as a whole, not just Chareidim, are very Republican”

    The survey says “Orthodox Jews have been trending in the opposite direction, becoming as solidly Republican as non-Orthodox Jews are solidly Democratic. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, 75% of Orthodox Jews said they were Republicans or leaned Republican, compared with 57% in 2013.”

    Since the survey doesn’t split out orthodox subgroups isn’t it also possible that rather than more non-haredim orthodox Jews moving right politically, that haredim in the last 7 years have become a larger proportion of the overall orthodox group accounting for some of the percentage shift to the political right?

    I also wonder if any Democratic leaning Orthodox Jews felt pushed out by the conservative political leanings of their congregations?
    I know I’ve personally recently strongly felt the inverse of that (having moderate politics no longer feeling comfortable in a liberal congregation).

    – May I ask do you know the political affiliations of others in your minyan from personal chit-chat or is there a push at a congregational level where it is clear what the politics of the shul are?


    “If you really go into the sticks down south”
    I have.

    “you would see what real hatred is.”
    Not really. Pre-2016, it truly wasn’t a big issue. In NYC, however, there has always been a massive amount of Antisemitism that people seem to just tolerate. You’re much more likely to see “real hatred” there than anywhere else.

    “I thought the point of these surveys are to understand the makeup of Jewish Communities. As in what the people are actually like. Not what the definitions are. I feel lost on this thread.”

    If a poll was designed to give you insights on the Black community, but 50% of the people they polled were just White people who choose to identify as Black, would that really be very educational? I get it, a secular institution will consider someone Jewish if there paternal grandfather was, but if they’re going to ask about intermarriage anyway, it seems like they could have asked responders which of there parents was Jewish so that we could end up with a statistic like “blank % of American Jews have non-Jewish mothers” to put it in perspective. Otherwise, we’re just guessing here and the results seem kind of meaningless.

    Thanks for looking into it. Given that all the “not in top ten” cities are in the midwest, if you add them to Chicago, it massively beats out the South and gets very close to the west. I can believe that the west beats out the midwest, just not by as much as this poll claimed.


    SACT5: “Since the survey doesn’t split out orthodox subgroups isn’t it also possible that rather than more non-haredim orthodox Jews moving right politically, that haredim in the last 7 years have become a larger proportion of the overall orthodox group accounting for some of the percentage shift to the political right?”

    Your point is absolutely true. Orthodoxy is becoming more Chareidi, mainly as a result of the higher Chareidi fertility rate even compared to other Orthodox non-Chareidi demographics. In 2013 the Pew survey indicated that Chareidim were in the low 60-something percent of Orthodox Jews. (Up until about the 1980s Chareidim were a minority of the American Orthodox.) Now the percentage is even higher.

    But even granting all that, when a full 75% of all Orthodox Jews in the United States identify as Republican (or Republican-leaning), it is clear that the solidly Republican nature of today’s American Orthodox Jews is much more pervasive among all the Orthodox, rather than just the Chareidim.


    Akuperma is right about the confusion.


    Jews were previously said to earn like Episcopalian but vote like Puerto Ricans. The charedi vote seem to reverse that: while most individuals “self-identify” as Republicans, communities often are in favor of Democratic policies – increased welfare, various subsidies, and often pragmatic support of Dem politicians as most O- Jews live in blue states. Florida is an exception. Maybe NY/NJ Jews should move to PA to affect another purple state.

    Menachem Shmei


    Thanks for explaining the history with the denominations.

    By the way, I loved how you said that he disapproves of the politics but not the person. I’m going to use that.


    There is no congregational push about politics and voting.
    I know the political affiliation 2 ways:
    #1 chit chat
    #2 I have been Asst. Registrar of Voters in my town for more than a decade and am very familiar with the voter registration lists.


    On 5% of Orthodox Jews not keeping Kosher: I can think of several possible explanations.
    1 is as several have suggested, orthoprax people from orthodox families and/or communities who don’t believe themselves and may sneak off to eat at McDonalds or whatever.
    2 there is a type of traditional Jew more common amongst Israeli Sefardim than here who know that the Torah is true, but don’t really practice a fully frum lifestyle themselves.
    3 there are baalei teshuva and people converting to Judaism who might, for want of a more accurate option, list themselves as orthodox but who are still working on gradually improving their observance of Mitzvos.
    4 there are frum Jews who believe in Torah and want to keep mitzvos but may have succumbed to the yetzer hara. I wish I was perfect.


    Dear Follick,

    Orthoprax translates to ‘right practice’ so no sneaking off for them.

    5 Those that leave the requirements of Orthodoxy and don’t go anywhere else.

    I don’t know why everyone ignores the realities of these people existing.


    I say orthoprax, because many of these people will openly act as if they are practicing while at home or in their community but will go off to do other stuff when alone. So strictly speaking you can take issue with the term orthoprax if you want. Would you prefer the term ‘sometimes pretends to be frum, but willingly violates kashrus and other mitzvos when unobserved?’

    I can think of one particular man I knew who was a member of a Chassishe family and stayed a respected person in his community, but would sneak off to very non-kosher strip clubs from time to time.

    I agree that some people will leave orthodoxy and don’t go anywhere else, but those I’ve heard of probably wouldn’t identify as orthodox anymore. More likely as unaffiliated/none.


    I FOUND IT!!!!!
    Burried in section 1, almost a footnote, the real numbers….

    “One other common definition should be mentioned: In traditional Jewish law (halakha), Jewish identity is transmitted by matrilineal descent. The survey finds that 87% of adult Jews by religion and 70% of Jews of no religion – a total of about 4.8 million U.S. adults – say they had a Jewish mother. Additionally, about 1.3 million people who are not classified as Jews in this report (47% of non-Jews of Jewish background) say they had a Jewish mother.”


    Very interesting, but how many of those Jewish mothers were halachicly Jewish? especially amongst the the unaffiliated.


    Dear Follick,

    For the purposes of the survey, he would be Orthodox like me and you. I think that is the whole point of the study. But everybody on this thread has a problem with that, so I’m probably missing something here.

    In general we don’t term such people. Either ‘he isn’t frum/orthodox in private’ or ‘he has his struggles’ or ‘he is not in a good place’ or some other phrase, depending on the nature of the story.

    If we must have a term for societal purposes, than I suggest ‘Orthophony’.

    Sadly, I know a bunch of young people who left Orthodoxy. Some are still in the same general locale and some went across the country. Both may call themselves Ortodox but unobservant for this survey. It is a reflection of their inner confusions.


    People are human, everyone has sins. That’s why we have communal confessions on Yom Kippur. I have yet to hear of an orthodox shul where they say, oh we skip that part since obviously no one among us has sinned.

    Just my view, but I’ve never liked the labels Orthodox, Conservative, & Reform for people. They are affiliations for synagogues or organization. People are Jewish. They can be more or less observant/frum. You can say you grew up in or belong to an O/C/R shul, but even individuals within the same family and over the course of their lives have varying levels of observance.
    Here’s a few examples of why I think O/C/R as individual labels don’t work.
    There’s a Refom (non-congregational) Rabbi who reads Torah weekly at a local Modern Orthodox shul where I believe he is a member. What is he? Reform? Orthodox?
    (Reform + Orthodox)/2= Conservative?
    No, he is Jewish.
    My friend had a Jewish father and Christian mother, he was Baptized in the church and had a Bar Mitzvah at a Reform synagogue. What is he? A Reform Jew? No, not Jewish.
    My friend was ‘raised Conservative,’ he married a non-Jewish woman, they have children, everyone in the home keeps kosher. What are they? One lonely Jew.
    Someone who was ‘raised Orthodox’ but no longer is observant? He is Jewish.
    A BT or FFB? They are Jewish.
    When the little boy at religious school drop-off asks me skeptically if we are Jewish since our family is visibly less observant than others, I say without qualifiers, yes we are Jewish.

    “In NYC, however, there has always been a massive amount of Antisemitism that people seem to just tolerate.”
    I think it gets lost within the general violence of a big city. Not going to be front page news over yesterday’s 75 other crimes. In a small town where Jews are rare and crime is rarer its more likely to make headlines.

    Also being from OOT I feel the need to clarify this statement, edited

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