Jewishly Engaged & Congregationally Unaffiliated: The Holy Grail of Jewish Engagement Efforts

By Steven M. Cohen

Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring, September 19, 2012

Those Jews who are engaged as Jews while unaffiliated with Jewish congregational life constitute about a third of congregationally unaffiliated non-Orthodox Jews in the United States, and a sixth of all Jews, and comprise about one million Jewish individuals. We define this critical group as those who say that being Jewish is very important to them, yet who neither belong to synagogues nor attend services very often. They derive, more than others, from weaker Jewish schooling and mixed married parents. Compared with other non-Orthodox Jews, they are more frequently: younger adults, living in the West, non-married, non-parents, intermarried, and lower income. Most of them report that half or more of their friends are Jewish. While none belong to synagogues or even attend services monthly (by definition), they are fairly active in religious ritual. Many see religion as important in their lives, even as many are cultural Jews, and most define themselves as spiritual. They are far more Israel-engaged than the unaffiliated. Politically, most are liberals, with strong commitments to economic justice.

Topic: Culture, Engagement, Jewish Identity, Survey, Affiliation, Religion

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Coverage: United States

Language: English

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Bibliographic Information:
Cohen, Steven M. Jewishly Engaged & Congregationally Unaffiliated: The Holy Grail of Jewish Engagement Efforts. Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring. 19 September 2012:


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