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For the survey, a total sampling of 4,718 people were counted as Jewish Americans, defined as having at least one Jewish parent or having been raised Jewish.

The new survey from the Pew Research Center released May 11 paints a portrait of Jewish Americans in 2020 that is not dramatically different from 2013, when the survey was last taken.

For the survey, a total sampling of 4,718 people were counted as Jewish Americans, defined as having at least one Jewish parent or having been raised Jewish.

Counting all Jewish adults — young and old, combined — the percentages who identify as Orthodox, Conservative and Reform are little changed. The size of the adult Jewish population is also stable, rising roughly in line with the total U.S. population.

According to the data, as of 2020, 2.4% of U.S. adults are Jewish, compared to 2.2% in 2013. In absolute numbers, the 2020 Jewish population estimate is approximately 7.5 million, including 5.8 million adults and 1.8 million children (rounded to the closest 100,000). The 2013 estimate was 6.7 million, including 5.3 million adults and 1.3 million children. 

Demographic/Political Trends

Jewish Americans, on average, are older, have higher levels of education, earn higher incomes and are more geographically concentrated in the Northeast than Americans overall. The U.S. Jewish population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Overall, 92% of Jewish adults identify as White (non-Hispanic), and 8% identify with all other categories combined. Among Jews ages 18-29, that figure rises to 15%. Already, 17% of U.S. Jews surveyed live in households in which at least one child or adult is Black, Hispanic, Asian or multiracial.

Some 42% of all currently married Jewish respondents said they have a non-Jewish spouse. Among those who have gotten married since 2010, 61% are intermarried. However, intermarriage is very rare among Orthodox Jews: 98% of Orthodox Jews who are married say their spouse is Jewish. 

According to the survey, 72% of non-Orthodox Jews who have gotten married since 2010 are intermarried, and “it appears that the offspring of intermarriages have become increasingly likely to identify as Jewish in adulthood,” the survey says.

Politically, U.S. Jews on the whole tilt strongly liberal and tend to support the Democratic Party. When the new survey was fielded during a highly contentious political period, from late fall 2019 through late spring 2020, 71% said they were Democrats or leaned Democratic. Among Jews of no religion, roughly three-quarters were Democrats or leaned that way. But 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.

Concerns about antisemitism among American Jews are on the rise. Three-quarters say there is more antisemitism in the United States than there was five years ago, and just over half (53%) say that “as a Jewish person in the United States” they feel less safe than they did five years ago. Yet, even among those who feel less safe, only 5% of all U.S. Jews report that they have stayed away from a Jewish event or observance as a result.

The survey also finds that many Jewish Americans participate, at least occasionally, both in some traditional religious practices — like going to a synagogue or fasting on Yom Kippur — and in some Jewish cultural activities, like making potato latkes, watching Israeli movies or reading Jewish news online. 

Religious Generational Trends

Among young Jewish adults, however, the survey finds that “two sharply divergent expressions of Jewishness appear to be gaining ground — one involving religion deeply enmeshed in every aspect of life, and the other involving little or no religion at all.”

Jewish adults ages 18-29 are much more likely than Jews older than 65 to identify as Orthodox, 17% to 3% respectively. One-in-10 U.S. Jewish adults under 30 are ultra-Orthodox (11%), compared with 1% of Jews 65 and older.

At the same time, 40% of Jewish adults under 30 identify as Jewish culturally, but describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” rather than as Jewish. This is compared to 27% of all Jewish adults who do not identify with the Jewish religion.

The survey also shows that two branches of Judaism that have long predominated in the U.S. have less of a hold on young Jews than on their elders. Roughly four-in-10 Jewish adults under 30 identify with either Reform (29%) or Conservative Judaism (8%), compared with seven-in-10 Jews older than 65.

According to the survey: “In other words, the youngest U.S. Jews count among their ranks both a relatively large share of traditionally observant, Orthodox Jews and an even larger group of people who see themselves as Jewish for cultural, ethnic or family reasons but do not identify with Judaism — as a religion — at all.”

And even though people in both groups participate, at least sometimes, in the same cultural activities, such as cooking traditional Jewish foods, visiting Jewish historical sites and listening to Jewish or Israeli music, the two groups report feeling little in common with each other, the study notes.

The survey’s authors say these generational shifts toward both Orthodoxy and secular Jewishness have the potential, in time, to reshape American Jewry.

Denomination Trends 

In the 2020 survey, 37% of American Jews identify as Reform and 17% as Conservative, essentially unchanged from 2013. The share of all Jewish adults who describe themselves as Orthodox is also about the same in 2020 (9%) as it was in 2013 (10%).

Other branches, such as the Reconstructionist movement and Humanistic Judaism, total about 4%, very similar to in 2013 (6%). And the share of Jewish adults who do not identify with any particular stream or institutional branch of Judaism is now 32%, roughly on par with the 2013 survey (30%).

Conservative and Reform Jews tend to be less religiously observant in traditional ways, like keeping kosher and regularly attending religious services, but many participate in Jewish cultural activities, and most are at least somewhat attached to Israel. Demographically, they have high levels of education, small families, higher rates of intermarriage than the Orthodox and skew older (median age of 62 for Conservative, 53 for Reform).

Those who consider themselves culturally but not religiously Jewish, have low levels of synagogue membership and attendance with comparatively weak attachments to Israel, feelings of belonging to the Jewish people and engagement in communal Jewish life. They tend to be politically liberal and highly educated, with relatively high rates of intermarriage and a low median age (38 years).

The survey’s authors also conclude that although the data show some signs of religious divergence and political polarization among U.S. Jews, it also finds large areas of consensus. For instance, more than 80% of U.S. Jews say that they feel at least some sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and 75% say that “being Jewish” is either very or somewhat important to them.