The Changing Population Profile of American Jews 1990 - 2008 / DR.R.S.Lissak

Barry A.Kosmin, of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, gave a lecture at the 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, Israel, August 2009.

Kosmin's brought in his lecture the findings of ARIS, American Identification Survey. According to this survey there are changes in the religious loyalties of the American public. 3 national surveys of adults were done, in 1990, 2001 and 2008.

The 3 surveys contain large nationally representative sub- samples of self- identified Jewish respondents which form a national Jewish data set.

The 1990 and 2001 surveys included special "Jewish" questions, and the 2008 survey included questions on ethnic origin and ancestry, including a Jewish category for respondents with no religion.

Table 1 shows the consistency of the downward trend and the volume of losses to Judaism over 18 year period.
Table 2 shows that the pattern is consistent with previous surveys. AJIS 2008 indicates that the total size of the US Core Jewish Population lies in the range of 5.2- 5.4 million people. ARIS 2008 reveals that Judaic Jews comprise 1.2% 0f the American religious population, while Jewish Nones (not religious) are 3/8% of the adult American Non-theistic population.


"Though the total Jewish population is relatively stable in size, disaffection from Judaism and intermarriage have combined to change the identity profile of American Jewry in the past 20 years."

In other words, the total number of Jews adhering to any type of Judaism is around 3.3- 3.4 million, and the Orthodox Jews comprise 25%.

While the Jewish religious population is declining, the non religious population is rising. The non- religious population has risen from around 20% in 1990 to around 37% in 2008.

The Jewish population is in a process of secularization. The result is that the "extended" vs. "core" population of Jewish ancestry in the US is continually expanding. Around 2.5 million people of Jewish parentage are following other religions, and the "core" Jewish population is declining.

In terms of the Israeli "Law of Return" these findings mean that the "extended Jewish population" ( Jews and descendants of mixed marriages) in the US is now over 10 million persons.

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