The Zinger in the Pew Report

People will be speaking for quite a while about the the new Pew report on American Jews, and its depressing outlook for the future of any continuation of Jewish affiliation outside of Orthodoxy. One item, appearing at the end of Chapter Four, took everyone by surprise. Fifteen percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews reported that they attended non-Jewish religious services a few times a year. Huh? Can this really be true. The same figure was reported for Modern Orthodox Jews.

Given the sad factionalizing of the Orthodox community, we think we understand what is going on. Occasionally, someone from the yeshivish community will drop by a Young Israel. And a Modern Orthodox traveller in need of a late shacharis might, from time to time, try out a chassidishe shteibel.

This is as “non-Jewish” (r”l) as it gets. Riddle solved.

Not so funny are the real flaws in the report, some of which resulted in the serious under-reporting of Orthodox strength:

1) The clustering of Orthodox population in specific areas
2) The perhaps tens of thousands (or more) especially outside those areas who are strongly affiliated with Chabad. Those people will not call themselves Orthodox, put belong there for the purpose of the poll.
3) The not-so-new touchstone of Orthodoxy is Shabbos observance. Had that been built in to the poll, it would have shown far less defection from Orthodoxy in the past (where lots of people joined Orthodox shuls, but were not shomrei Shabbos, and were subsequently drained off by the growth spurt of Conservatism in the ’50′s-’70′s) Most of those who reported on Orthodox strength noted that defections from Orthodoxy among young people today had declined from the adult dropout rate of the past. Even the original Pew report underscored the difference. Someone at the Tablet got it really, badly wrong – or simply has it in for Orthodoxy.
4) No one ever comes up with perfectly articulated questions for polls, but something has to be wrong when only 76% of ultra- Orthodox respondents avoid handling money on Shabbos. What was unclear in this poll? The definition of “money,” “Shabbos” (maybe they meant before Rabbenu Tam on motza’ei Shabbos?), “handle” or “ultra-Orthodox?” Maybe we should have learned from previous polls that relying on self-identification is not the best way to go?

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40 comments to The Zinger in the Pew Report

  • Miriam

    I wonder if by handling they thought it meant discussing…

  • Steve Brizel

    Demographers have never considered Orthodox communities in their studies, but rather the secular Jewish world’s conception of Orthodoxy which hasn’t really changed that much in substance over the years. That is why the report focused on the negatives in Orthodox life, instead of profiling thriving MO and Charedi communities.

  • Reb Yid

    Having already read the Pew methodology, many of these stats about the Orthodox (and comparing the modern Orthodox with the ultra Orthodox) need to be treated with due caution.

    The margin of error for the Modern Orthodox responses is over 12%, and it is the same for the ultra Orthodox. So giving a figure of 15% for, say, the haredim on that specific question is not instructive at all, when you consider the actual margin of error ranges from less than 3% to 27%.

  • Reb Yid

    Reading beyond the headlines, there are some easy explanations duly noted by Pew that explain the “zinger” questions.

    Pew’s tables note that 94% Orthodox who live in the “high density Orthodox stratum” ‘never’ or ‘seldom’ attend non-Jewish religious services; similarly 88% of the Orthodox in these areas do not handle money on Shabbat.

    Mystery solved.

  • Raymond

    This whole study by the Pew Research people sounds very confusing to me. What I can say is that when it comes to them conducting secular, political polls, that they tend to be heavily biased in favor of the politically Left-of-Center. This makes me neither trust nor value anything that they have to say on any subject.

  • Michael

    As the previous commenters have noted, they have a small sample size (and hence large margin of error) for the Orthodox. I would guess that, since they seem to group Jews by congregational affiliation, people who attend Chabad in Montana are classified as ultra-Orthodox. I would also guess that few of these people would be recognized as such in Boro Park.

  • joel rich

    R’YA,
    If there were no flaws in the study results would you see a value in them for the orthodox community? For the non-orthodox community? If so, what is that value?
    KT

    [YA - Reb Joel, I accept your challenge to come up with some action points that are not entirely boilerplate. I will need a few days to get the time to put something in writing. Feel free to push me midweek, next]

  • Steve Brizel

    I view surveys of this nature with a lot of skepticism and disdain bordering on the cynical because the pollsters invariably have an ignorant, jaundiced and very LW secular view of Torah observant Judaism based on either reading secular media, secular Jewish newspapers ( the editor of one IIRC, was a major player in this survey) which shows up in surveys like this that show no awareness of the vital MO and Charedi communities all over NA. When I read surveys and the comments of those who seek to justify the results and their own POVs, I am reminded of the comment of Chazal that HaShem plants Tzadikim in every generation, and that great spiritual giants emerge in every generation to answer the spiritual needs of the time. I have far more confidence in and inspiration drawn from those active in kiruv and the communities anywhere in NA where you can find many BTs and Gerim.

  • Shua Cohen

    The Pew survey found a whopping 71% intermarriage rate among the non-Orthodox. There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this, two of which are as follows:

    (1) A signifcant majority of “Jews” interviewed for this study are not really Jewish at all, but are rather individuals who retain some false notion of Jewishness by dint of patrilineal descent and illegitimate conversions.

    (2) As controversial as it may be to make this claim, I nevertheless continue to believe that whatever monies are presently expensed for kiruv efforts by the Orthodox community in the U.S. are, for the most part, a dismal waste of precious funds.

    The Medresh explains that yetzias Mitzrayim is a paradigm for the final geula. Just as only 20% of Klal Yisrael went out with Moshe Rabbeinu while 80% were destroyed in darkness, so too are 80% of Jews in the diaspora disappearing (in truth, already disappeared) in the darkness of Jewish ignorance and assimilation. On occasion, I have been dismissively chastized for suggesting what we, nevertheless, see happening before our very eyes! To the ones who object: “We can never give up on our Jewish brethren,” I reply, “the problem is that those ‘brethren’ are a fiction of your imagination; there really are not that many to be found!”

    Cynically speaking, the Kiruv organizations exist today as self-perpetuating businesses, keeping frum Jews employed in a task of diminishing and obviously negligible returns. It’s time to close down these businesses and re-direct the funding to the likes of Nefesh b’Nefesh, concomitant with a massive education program re-introducing the mitzvah of yishuv ha’Aretz in diaspora Torah communities (a mitzvah which is neglected, if not downright spurned, by many/most bnei Torah in chutz l’Aretz, Rachmana Litzlan). The 20% who will be zocheh to the geula need to be assisted in getting out while the getting’s good, and re-establishing their communities in Eretz Yisrael! The remaining 80%, my friends, are already going…going… gone. Accpet it, get over it, and move on out!

  • David

    Unless I missed it, even though they talked about being who left Orthodoxy, or grew up Conservative but became Reform (about 30%)
    They did not mention people who were raised Reform or Conservative but became Orthodox.

  • DF

    Your last line – about self-identification – is the flaw which undermines the entire project, sadly, at least with respect to orthdox Jews. As other posts on this website demonstrate learly, one man’s conception of “orthodoxy” can differ wildly from another’s. Note also that in the extensive list of advisers they consulted with, there is not a single representative from the “black hat” world. [Nothing wrong with that per se, but it's something that would be necessary if they wanted a true grasp of orthodox culture.] On top of that, there is a clear difference between Jews claiming to have been raised orthodox forty years ago, and such Jews today. Thus we find obviously false statistics like 48% of people raised orthodox leave the fold, 24% of “ultra-orthodox” Jews handle money on Shabbos, 25% of orthodox Jews become Conservative or Reform, etc etc. These statistics have no meaning.

    One thing all of this does serve to emphasize, though: Charedi Judaism is indeed a new form of Judasim, one we’ve not seen before. It is NOT, as so often claimed, minhag yisrael sabba, the authentic repository of tradition. Far, far from it. And like all other variations that have arisen from time to time, from Chassidism to Reform, it will be many decades before its true impact can be gauged.

  • Reb Yid

    Michael:

    The Orthodox subgroups were based on self-reporting.

    First, if someone identified as Jewish by religion they were asked if denominationally they identified as Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, something else (which they then had to specify, or no particular denomination.

    Then those who identified as Orthodox were asked if they considered themselves to be Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, Chasidic, or something else (which they then had to specify).

    Frankly, between the NY community study last year and the Pew study, there has been far, far more attention paid to Orthodox Jews and their classifications, imperfect as they are. Orthodox Jews got their just due.

    On the other hand, the Reconstructionists were completely left out–unlike many other surveys over the past few decades, you had to volunteer that to the interview instead of it being given to you as a choice.

  • Reb Yid

    David:

    David:

    The numbers about denominational switching are reported for all denominations. In terms of switching to Orthodoxy the numbers are minimal (ranging from 1% to 4%, depending on the denomination raised, or lack thereof).

    That is nothing new….we’ve seen the overall trend of switching to more liberal denominations (and more recently, no denomination) for some time.

    They haven’t yet released the proportion of each current denomination that was raised in that denomination, but I’d be surprised if there were a substantial proportion of baalei teshuva. Most surveys of recent vintage haven’t borne out the “booming baal teshuva” thesis that ranks as conventional wisdom in some spheres. Rather, the Orthodox growth has been due almost entirely to 2 other factors–much better retention rates of the young compared to previous generations, and high fertility rates, particularly on the Haredi/Chasidic end.

  • mb

    Every poll gets it wrong. Way under reported.
    Who is a Jew?
    Whoever denies idolatry is called a Jew (BT Megilla 13a)

  • Dovid

    You wrote: “. . . something has to be wrong when only 76% of ultra- Orthodox respondents avoid handling money on Shabbos. What was unclear in this poll? The definition of “money.””

    Perhaps the 25% thought the question was whether they avoid “hondeling” about money, not handling.

  • Steve Brizel

    Can someone post a link to a study or a footnote in a demographic study that compares vitality of Jewish life in any of the many MO and Charedi neighborhoods with the urban fiction and stereotypes that pass for analysis of the Orthodox world in this study and the more recent study? The comments in both studies IMO that even tough on the Charedi and MO movements show no familiarity with either world and strike me as about as authoritative as a Facebook post prepared at your local Starbuck’s, as opposed to a sociological and demographic study of any MO or Charedi community.

  • Steve Brizel

    Reb Yid-I know for a fact that 125 members of the Dallas Jewish community, many of whom were attracted to Torah observance by a dynamic Charedi community Kollel ( DATA) attended the Siyum HaShas in August 2012. That IMO is evidence of how kiruv can work in any community. Disparaging BTs and kiruv is IMO hardly a proper response or comment to a study that showed gross ignorance of the reality in the MO and Charedi worlds.

    I noted that Dr S Heilam was consulted in the acknowledgements-except for a wonderful book about the Charedim in Israel, Dr Heilman’s “Sliding to the Right” and his atttempted bio on the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZL were agenda driven works that showed no appreciation of the communities and the subject of his bio. Merely looking at a Kol Koreh and an advertisement on the wall ignores the fact that my community sent busloads from every shul to the Siyum HaShas, is home to many BTs, and was bustling with as many venues to purchase Arbah Minim this Erev Sukkos on every block, and has a sense of quiet on the average Shabbos night that comes close to rivalling any frum neighborhood in the US or in Israel. Agenda driven studies that are aimed to support the big tent Federation view of American Jewry and to justify the unjustifiable ( the anti Semitic Alice Walker at the 92nd Street Y) and worse as evidence of “Jewish continuity” miss this fact as well as that regardless of the dispute as to Messianism within Chabad, noone gave Orthodoxy in America a sense of Gaavah and Chutpza BKedusha to raise the consciousness of Jews in the last 50 years more than Chabad.

  • ahad haamoratsim

    Miriam – as the old joke goes, Shabbos nisht g’redt, I already sold it.

  • mycroft

    About a decade ago when similar complaints were made about the percentage of Orthodox Jews in surveys I took US government statistics for esrog importing and if I recall correctly was a figure around 170,000.The vast majority of esrogim used in US are imported The vast majority of people who use esrogim are Orthodox Jews. Today and then for better or worse virtually all male Orthodox Jews over age 13 have their own esrog-thus reasonable ball park estimates can be made. The figures that I came up with were consistent with the various estimates of surveys as to number of Orthodox Jews. I attempted to search for current esrog figures but websites told me due to government shutdown the webpages were not available.

  • Really

    ahad haamoratsim,

    It says “Kol haomer dovor b’shem amroh, meivi geulah leolam”, it would thus be appropriate to give credit to Lipa Schmeltzer for the line from his song that you quoted (albeit inaccurately).

    It would be nisht oif Shabbos g’redt.

  • Steve Brizel

    Mycroft-Esrog importing and purchasing is as you know a largely cash business with probably a large amount of unreported income, unless you pay via a shul. Using ersog importing is another way of a guaranteed underreporting of numbers.

  • G. Tendler Pickholz

    The most significant analytic flaw seems to be the assumption that those no longer identifying with mainstream orthodox institutions are less observant. This is not only nonsense, but misses the fastest growing population of religiously observant — those who are irreparably alienated from orthodox institutions, particularly modern orthodox institutions, but are fully observant and would never consider hashkafot such as Conservative or Reform. They are, arguably, the most educated, professional and wealthy sub sector in the survey as well. I daven in two shuls every Shabbat with 500+ Worshippers each in this undid enticed category. Taken within this context, the statistics make far more sense. The fastest growing trend is a complete rejection of charedi, Conservative, open orthodox and modern orthodox affiliations and institutions by legitimate bnei Torah. Something similar to the British United Synagogue or, even better, the French Consistoire, is developing albeit haphazardly. As in football, wide to the right is finally being acknowledged as being as off goal as wide to the left. That has never occurred before in post Holocaust American Judaism, where “driving further to the right” had been safe of criticism.

  • Nachum

    Mycroft: The Egyptian lulav industry having shut down, virtually all lulavim worldwide came from Israel this year. 900,000 were grown; 700,000 were sold in Israel and 200,000 outside. In other words, things don’t seem to have changed much in ten years, and if you run the numbers, that’s probably about 500,000 Orthodox Jews in the US.

    [YA - There are other sources. Here on the West Coast, virtually all the lulavim (and many of the esrogim) are domestic: lulavim from Arizona IIRC, and esrogim from California]

  • Steve Brizel

    Here is another example of self serving analysis:

    “22.In general, Orthodox Jews are defined by a more traditional and strict observance of halakha (Jewish law) than Reform and Conservative Jews. Ultra-Orthodox (also called Haredi) Jews, a group that includes but is not limited to Hasidic Jews, tend to view their adherence to the Torah’s commandments as largely incompatible with secular society. As a result, they are “self-segregated and relatively disconnected from the rest of the Jewish community,” according to the Jewish Community Study of New York, 2011. The Modern Orthodox movement, on the other hand, seeks to follow traditional Jewish law while simultaneously maintaining a relationship with modern society. As Modern Orthodox Rabbi Saul J. Berman writes: “[T]his approach does not deny that there are areas of powerful inconsistency and conflict between Torah and modern culture that need to be filtered out in order to preserve the integrity of halakha.”

    The use of self serving terms as “self-segregated and relatively disconnected from the rest of the Jewish community” is IMO just an excuse for a conscious failure and decision not to attempt to conduct any research in the so-called “ultra Orthodox” community.

  • Steve Brizel

    One can argue very strongly that the definition of MO used by R S Berman may have been the case in the 1960s, but really now is the province of the LW MO. Such a definition ignores the changes in the cultural dymanic of the US that have even caused rethinking within MO circles as to the degree of interaction with the secular world.

  • Steve Brizel

    For those interested, look at Pew Forum acknowledgments page. Then-ask yourselves whether any of the “experts” listed have any knowledge of the Orthodox world other than Dr Heilman.

  • shaya

    Good observations.

    What I would like to see is an in-depth demographic study of the Orthodox population of North America. This would 1) document our numbers (which I don’t believe for a second the Pew study did accurately), and 2) give us a good idea of how many of us are BTs, but perhaps most importantly, 3) let us get a sense of where people are holding. Are people satisfied with their lives, socially, spiritually, financially? What kinds of people are burnt out and need the help of some intra-Orthodox kiruv? What kind of personal and communal practices help in helping people grow and prosper in their lives and in their Yiddishkeit?

  • Baruch Gorman

    A problem with the Pew survey regarding the high drop-out rate of orthodox older than 50: This is probably inaccurate because many of the so called drop-outs were actually raised in what used to be called a “Traditional” synagogue which used an Orthodox, usually Birnbaum Siddur, and did not have a mechitza. The members of these shuls very usually didn’t keep Shabbos or Kosher.

  • Reb Yid

    To Steve Brizel:

    I know most of those in the Acknowledgements section and have worked with many of them. Collectively, they know quite a bit about Orthodoxy.

    Shaya:

    You’ll never see that happen because the Orthodox world is far too diffuse and politically fractured. Some segments of the community show no interest while others are outright antagonistic, ranging from “not one, not two” to remembering the Shoah and other times in Jewish history where lists were used against the Jewish people.

  • mycroft

    “Steve Brizel
    October 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm
    Mycroft-Esrog importing and purchasing is as you know a largely cash business with probably a large amount of unreported income, unless you pay via a shul. Using ersog importing is another way of a guaranteed underreporting of numbers”

    The importation of esrogim requires Dept of Agriculture Approval hence the statistic.

    “Nachum
    October 7, 2013 at 9:21 am
    Mycroft: The Egyptian lulav industry having shut down, virtually all lulavim worldwide came from Israel this year. 900,000 were grown; 700,000 were sold in Israel and 200,000 outside. In other words, things don’t seem to have changed much in ten years, and if you run the numbers, that’s probably about 500,000 Orthodox Jews in the US.”{

    There are at least some lulavim sold in other countries Canada etc

    “[YA - There are other sources. Here on the West Coast, virtually all the lulavim (and many of the esrogim) are domestic: lulavim from Arizona IIRC, and esrogim from California]”
    There may be other sources but of course there are lulavim/esrogim not sold/used and certainly there are some sold to non Orthodox Jews. A ball park estimate from objective figures is what is relevant.

  • L. Oberstein

    Great discussion. People with preconceived notions tend to see what they already believe to be true in polls. Anyone can see certain facts. Ortohdox Jews ae reproducing and have more Jewish descendents than the other groups. My sister in Texas has 2 sons and each has 2 chidren, all young adults. The only one that is married is her granddaughter who met an orthodox boy in college and became observant.My sister has one great grandchild . Compare that with many members of the orthodox community who have more children, most of whom marry and have numerous children. How often do we read an obituary of an elderly person who leaves behind hundreds ,if not a thousand, descendents. That is the real story.
    As far as disparaging Kiruv, that is ,pardon the expression, “hog wash”. In Atlanta and elsewhere, one meets entire kehillot of Baalei Teshuva and new ones are joining all the time.The author of the critique is not the one paying for this. Two families, Horn and Wolfson fund much of the Kiruv and they demand statistics and results for their investments.They are not pouring money down the sink.
    Yes, we have big problems in the frum community and we spend a lot of time worrying about our flaws,but, I have no doubt that orthodox Judaism is the wave of the future, like it or now.

  • Steve Brizel

    Reb Yid-Most of the the persons listed in the poll are listed as identifying with such institutions as JTS, HuC-JIR, Brandeis and the like. I would question whether any of those persons have any hands on knowledge of today’s MO and Charedi communities, as opposed to meeting people in their 70s who walked away from Orthodoxy decades ago.

    Mycroft-I stand by my comment that sales of arbam minim cannot be verified solely by government dats. Next Erev Sukkos, take a look and see who sells Arban Minim on the sidewalks in any MO or Charedi neighborhood.

  • mycroft

    “Mycroft-I stand by my comment that sales of arbam minim cannot be verified solely by government dats. Next Erev Sukkos, take a look and see who sells Arban Minim on the sidewalks in any MO or Charedi neighborhood”

    How do you believe one brings arba minim or any agricultural product in bulk without permission. Even assuming arguendo that there may be some sellers who couldn’t care about dina dmachulta dina you can’t hide agricultural products. There are routine dog sniffings for agricultural products at ports of entry. One is allowed to import but requires agricultural inspection.

  • dr. bill

    steve brizel, i find it rather debatable that those outside the community are assumed to be less able to understand it. did not chazal teach us that adam korov etzel atzmoh?

    in general, there are many items in the Pew study that are odd/surpising. having heard one of the principals on the study speak, much that has been conjectured above, is just that – conjecture. one thing to note is that two people both claiming to be of type X, may not be all that similar.

  • Steve Brizel

    Dr Bill-Take a look at who are the demographers-I stand by my assessment that the study and its authors wrote off much of the Orthodox world-regardless of whether the same was deliberate as not reflecting the views of the Federation world’s view of Judaism, ignorance of anything beyond the walls of HUC and JTS, and secular universities which are listed as the academic homes of the demographers. Much has been noted on the supposed large sums invested in kiruv. Take a look at R Avraham Edelstein’s column on the Pew Report-that is a drop in the bucket compared what one very prominent yeshiva has as its annual budget, excluding its annual campaign.

  • Reb Yid

    Steve:

    You are missing the boat here. Most Orthodox organizations don’t even have basic data about themselves or their congregations (the major exception being OU and to a much more limited extent Young Israel). It’s not a priority for many, a matter of sheer ignorance for some and outright threatening for others.

    In my various capacities as researcher, the Orthodox have inevitably come to folks like me wanting to know more about their own communities. Some groups, like Chabad and NCSY, are beginning to “get” that they need more and better data in order to plan for the future. And often this will mean working with social scientists from outside the community. The Orthodox need the researchers far more than the researchers need the Orthodox.

    As one who has been part of this process on numerous occasions–no-one is out to “get” the Orthodox (or any group) with surveys like these. It is certainly true that after the findings are released, any group, individual or researcher can use these data for certain purposes. Data themselves do not tell you want to do–it’s the values you bring with you that give you direction, where the data themselves may be a starting point.

  • Steve Brizel

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “About a decade ago when similar complaints were made about the percentage of Orthodox Jews in surveys I took US government statistics for esrog importing and if I recall correctly was a figure around 170,000″

    Take a look at the NYT-there is article that 500,000 lulavim were imported.

  • mycroft

    Steve Brizel
    October 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm
    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “About a decade ago when similar complaints were made about the percentage of Orthodox “Jews in surveys I took US government statistics for esrog importing and if I recall correctly was a figure around 170,000″

    Take a look at the NYT-there is article that 500,000 lulavim were imported”

    I used both a google search and a NY Times search for the article-I subscribe to the NYT and thus have unlimited free access to search their archives and was unable to find the article. Please indicate when the article appeared so I can find it. I did find a number of posts referring to 200,000 lulavim exported to US. Unlike esrogim we are both aware that another religion in a different season may well use lulavim thus total imports during the year may not only be Jewish usage. If there are really anywhere close to 500000 lulavim in use that would indicate a religious Jewish population of well over a million-probably in range of 1.2-1.5 million. I don’t believe anyone has claimed a figure in that ball park

  • Robert Lebovits

    Many comments have questioned the veracity of the study results and by extension the construction and presentation of the survey. I don’t know if anyone offering a critique actually participated in the process. I did.
    I was contacted on a Sunday via cell phone and for approximately 40 minutes I was asked very detailed and nuanced questions about my religious affiliation, religious practices, cultural identification, family life, value set, demographics, etc. It was very thorough and sophisticated. As a psychologist I am fairly familiar with the “demand characteristics” that questions can possess, aimed at drawing out particular kinds of responses. I did not perceive obvious bias in the content of the questions nor in the way they were structured and presented. My wife – who was also listening to the interviewer since I put her on speakerphone – heard no overt skewing as well.
    Obviously, as a self-report assessment the data accumulated will reflect idiosyncratic perceptions and definitions that an outside observer might challenge. Am I really a yeshivish FFB with a Zionistic flavor whose children have turned out to be more Chareidi or am I Chareidi lite with a love of Eretz Yisroel that is misinterpreted as supportive of the secular Zionist vision? That may be open to classification error though I imagine it would be a distinction without a difference.
    From my experience I conclude that the survey is an accurate representation of the subject it examined and its results are valid, however odd some of them might seem.

  • Steve Brizel

    Robert Lebovits wrote:

    “I was contacted on a Sunday via cell phone and for approximately 40 minutes I was asked very detailed and nuanced questions about my religious affiliation, religious practices, cultural identification, family life, value set, demographics, etc. It was very thorough and sophisticated. As a psychologist I am fairly familiar with the “demand characteristics” that questions can possess, aimed at drawing out particular kinds of responses. I did not perceive obvious bias in the content of the questions nor in the way they were structured and presented. My wife – who was also listening to the interviewer since I put her on speakerphone – heard no overt skewing as well.
    Obviously, as a self-report assessment the data accumulated will reflect idiosyncratic perceptions and definitions that an outside observer might challenge. Am I really a yeshivish FFB with a Zionistic flavor whose children have turned out to be more Chareidi or am I Chareidi lite with a love of Eretz Yisroel that is misinterpreted as supportive of the secular Zionist vision? That may be open to classification error though I imagine it would be a distinction without a difference.”

    Take a look at the survey, and ask yourself whether any of the nuances and idiosyncracies that you mentioned were accounted for in its findings with respect to the Torah observant community. I stand by my assessment that the authors, via a carefully placed footnote, which I quoted elsewhere, view the Torah observant community, and especially Charedi communities such as Monsey, Passaic, Lakewood and Baltimore, for starters, as either beyond their expertise or simply too insular for their otherwise skilled researchers. The bottom line remains that as long as there is no firm definition of “who is a Jew”, then the numbers in the heterodox world will always be expanded so as to fit into a secular Jewish establishment’s POV that “the big tent” is its working definition, and that the committed MO and Charedi worlds can be underestimated both in numbers and their contributions to the Jewish People.