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Study: Fewer US Jews Say They're Observant

The number of American Jews who see themselves as religious dropped 20 percent in 20 years. 3.4 million U.S. Jews call themselves religious.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/5/2009, 9:49 PM / Last Update: 8/6/2009, 6:20 AM

Flash 90

The number of American Jews who consider themselves religiously observant has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last 20 years, a survey found. The share of Jews who consider themselves secular has risen.

The results of the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, as reported by the Associated Press, showed that around 3.4 million U.S. Jews say they are religious, out of a total American Jewish population of about 5.4 million.

The relative share of Jews who identify themselves as only culturally Jewish rose from 20 percent in 1990 to 37 percent in 2008, the survey established. During the same period of time, the number of all U.S. adults (Jewish and non-Jewish) who said they had no religion rose from 8 to 15 percent.

Jews more likely to be secular
Jews are more likely to be secular than the general Americans population. The study also found that about half of all American Jews — including those who see themselves as religiously observant — claimed that they have a secular worldview. They said that there was no contradiction between their secular outlook and their faith.

The researchers said the trends shown by the survey reflected the high rate of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews and what they termed "disaffection from Judaism.”

The survey was carried out among more than 900 self-identified Jews and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The American Religious Identification Survey is based at Trinity College in Hartford.