Orthodox ascendant among U.S. Jews

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I suppose the fact that it’s a typically-hurried Erev Shabbos leaves me short on time and long on sarcasm, but… this is news?

The above is the home page title of a JTA article more fully entitled “New study of young Jews finds signs of growing Orthodox clout.” Anyone even vaguely familiar with Orthodox demographics will find this mind-boggling — “this” being that so much money was spent reaching such an obvious conclusion.

The study, which looked at the 1.5 million U.S. Jews between the ages of 18-39, found that Orthodox Jews comprise some 11 percent of all U.S. Jews, and 16 percent of 18-29 year-olds. Among even younger Jews, the percentage of Orthodox is even higher, those behind the report speculate.

Further, the survey found, Orthodox Jews marry at a younger age, have more children and are more Jewishly engaged than their non-Orthodox counterparts.

This is genius. Sheer genius! One hesitates to imagine how many hours of the nation’s leading Jewish demographic minds were required to “find” that “Orthodox Jews marry at a younger age, have more children and are more Jewishly engaged.”

The report found that the percentage of Orthodox Jews aged 18-29 is nearly double the percentage in the 30-39 age group. Considering that a higher percentage of Orthodox Jews marry, do so earlier and tend to have more children than other groups, this could indicate a growing role for Orthodoxy down the line.

The surprise factor remains underwhelming. But then, this gem, which — given the rest of the article’s content — is truly the surprise of the day:

“The future Jewish community is going to be shaped by paths not yet taken,” said Jack Ukeles, president of Ukeles Associates. “While we don’t have a crystal ball, we do have a pretty good sense of how these behaviors are going to change the community.”

Torah: The Path not yet Taken. It has a ring to it, don’t you think?

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7 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    We have known these figures for along time now. Dick Horowitz recently updated his study, “Will your grandkids be Jewish?”
    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/WillYourGrandchildrenBeJews.htm

  2. HILLEL says:

    WEll,it should come as no surprise. This is deja-vous all over gain. Those who abandon authentic Jewish tradition get lost among the nations.

    Only those who hold onto the lifeline of authentic Torah Judaism are granted the miracle of survival and continuity–It’s been that way for all 2000 years of our exile.

  3. der Alte says:

    As a personal matter, I’m delighted to read aout this trend. An
    earlier study (“Will your grandchildren be Jewish?”) was even
    more stark in its prediction.

    A word of caution. Analyzing social trends can be tricky. I would
    like to live 50 more years (two generations) to see how things turn
    out.

  4. SephardiLady says:

    Like Shmuel, above, I’m not popping my champagne cork quite yet. With the financial crisises many Orthodox families are facing or will face if no changes are made (call me a pessimist), who will fund the massive infrastructure of the Orthodox community?

    I think it is quite obvious that we do not have the level of organization amongst ourselves to change our infrastructure. And, while many older very Jewish, but non-observant, Jews have given significant sums of money to Day Schools, Yeshivot, and other Orthodox Institutions, if their heirs are not compelled to do the same (which they probably since we see our great losses in these numbers), than an important funding source will close and we will be on the losing end.

    The numbers sadden me tremendously.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Now that they’ve seen the future, all the famous Jewish-American organizations and consultants will run to us to make nice. It’s a beautiful thing!

  6. joel rich says:

    You might want to tie it in with Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” which ends with what I always considered a paean to the Orthodox (especially imho RWMO:-)) world: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
    I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”

    BTW an arguably wise actuary once said: “linear extrapolations of current trends are always wrong, including this one”
    KT

  7. shmuel says:

    Let’s be clear and sober. The statistics may be somewhat misleading. While the Orthodox numerator is growing somewhat, the total Jewish population is essentailly stagnant or possibly decreasing due to low birth rate and intermarriage among the non-Orthodox. Hence while the increasing percentage of Orthodox is something to be happy about, the reason for it is a bit more sobering as we are losing some many of our bretheren to apathy. To co-opt chazal while numerous Jews are drowning in a sea of assimilation, its no time to sing shira.