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Study Shows Booming Population of Jewish Singles Pivotal to Religion’s Future in America

1 Jul

For Immediate Release

High Levels of Jewish Pride Mixed with Low Levels of Communal Involvement Make the UNCOUPLED Population North American Judaism's "Swing Voters"

New York, NY -July 1, 2008- A new study says that the population of single, non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 25 and 39 is larger than ever before, making them the most pivotal demographic for the future of Judaism in the United States. According to UNCOUPLED: How our Singles are Reshaping Jewish Engagement: "...never in Jews' demographic history have we seen so many young adults unmarried, or 'uncoupled.' And they are uncoupled in two senses of the term: they are unmarried, and they are unconnected to organized Jewry."

Written by Professors Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman, the report shows that although the Uncoupled population is defined by low levels of communal and ritual involvement, they show surprisingly high levels of Jewish pride, rivaling the levels of their in-married(1) counterparts. This powerful dichotomy - low involvement and high interest - indicates that the Uncoupled could go either way when they do eventually get married and have children.

"The Uncoupled demographic represents the 'swing vote' for Judaism in America," said Dr. Cohen. "Here is a group that demonstrates high interest in engaging Jewishly, but is not finding fulfillment through institutional Judaism, which has built its communal model around the traditional family unit. As greater numbers of Jews stay unmarried later in life, their choices - and how they "vote"- will determine the future of Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness in the Unites States."

To obtain a free PDF copy of UNCOUPLED, visit http://www.acbp.net/About/publications.php.

Top findings include:

1. The Uncoupled (single, non-Orthodox Jews, 25 to 39) are as interested in Jewish engagement as their in-married counterparts.

  • The Uncoupled show high levels of Jewish pride. For example, 67 percent of the Uncoupled agree with the statement "I am proud to be a Jew," ahead of the 66 percent of in-married individuals who agree.
  • The Uncoupled demonstrate high levels of Jewish interest. For example, 58 percent of the Uncoupled agree with the statement "I wish I knew more Jewishly," compared to 54 percent of in-married individuals.

2. The Uncoupled demonstrate significantly lower levels of communal and ritual involvement than their in-married counterparts.

  • Just 19 percent of the Uncoupled belong to synagogues, opposed to 51 percent of the in-married.
  • Just 15 percent of the Uncoupled contribute to UJA/federation campaigns, opposed to 32 percent of the in-married.
  • The Uncoupled show lower levels of ritual involvement than the in-married. For example, 50 percent of the Uncoupled fast during Yom Kippur, opposed to 66 percent of the in-married.

3. This dichotomy - high levels of Jewish pride and interest combined with low levels of communal and ritual involvement - makes the Uncoupled population pivotal to the future of North American Judaism.

According to the study: "Lack of visible involvement in Jewish life by single young adults ought not to be construed as distancing from being Jewish. Their relatively low levels of measurable Jewish behavior have more to do with the available options for expressing engagement than with the putative [supposed] absence of interest in things Jewish."

Commissioned by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies in conjunction with the Reboot Identity project, UNCOUPLED is based on the 2007 National Survey of American Jews. The report was co-authored by Dr. Steven Cohen and Dr. Ari Kelman. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry, is research professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In addition, he was a lead contributor to the UJC's 2001 National Jewish Population Survey. Kelman is an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of California. He has written, spoken, and been published widely on American Jewish culture.

The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) is among the most recognized and influential organizations in the philanthropic and Jewish worlds. ACBP is on the Web at http://www.ACBP.net.

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1 Throughout the study (and this press announcement), the term "in-married" refers to couples in which both partners are Jewish.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Louder Than Words
Crystal Noble, 781-487-0002
crystal@louderthanwords.com

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