American Jews Losing Their Religion: That’s Me in the Corner.

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Having just returned from a JWA board meeting, I’m feeling exhausted.

Exhausted, yet inspired.

There is a whole world of Jewish women out there waiting to be discovered. And, there’s a whole world of Jewish women doing the discovering. There is immense passion for raising the voices of Jewish women, for creating a space to celebrate game-changing contemporary Jewish women, and for learning from the history of the Jewish women who came before us.

After 48 jam-packed hours with the board, I feel good about my role with the JWA. But it is not just the board that keeps my enthusiasm afloat—it is the JWA mission. Our users, readers, and community echo the passion our board and staff feels.

This morning I woke up, back in Boston, to my normal routine—which includes checking my email before I even get out of bed. Still on a high from my JWA infused weekend, I discovered that a friend sent an article my way entitled “American Jews Losing Their Religion.”

A Pew Research study hit the web this morning stating “one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion.” 

The survey also found that American Jews—religious or not—shared a “strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people” with 62% believing that being Jewish is “mainly a matter of ancestry and culture.” Pew also shared that American Jews “are not only less religious but also much less connected to Jewish organizations and much less likely to be raising their children Jewish.”

Perhaps it was the high of our board meeting, but to me, there is something refreshing about this survey.  While I acknowledge scholars, teachers, spiritual leaders, and lay leaders who worry about the future of a people distancing themselves from religion, I see this as an opportunity.

This is where JWA’s mission—and the passion I felt this weekend—come into play. I don’t believe that the Jewish people of America are at risk.

We are a tribe based on a shared culture, a shared history. It is because of this that we celebrate the accomplishments and histories of our fellow Jews. It is because of this that we love to exclaim, “She’s Jewish?! I had no idea!” Being a cultural Jew means defining one’s religion through the history of those who came before us.

I encourage you to think about what being Jewish means to you—and to share with us your thoughts on your Jewish cultural identity. What can we learn from this study, and how can JWA use these findings to strengthen your connection with Judaism? 

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