A new Pew research survey on American Jews shows that Judaism has become a religion that isn't all that religious. Jews just aren't very Jewish anymore — they are actually becoming quite Christian.
The survey found that a full 22 percent of self-acknowledged Jews identify as having no religion at all, a stance that Pew terms "Jews with no religion." That may sound a bit contradictory, but these are the types of cultural or social Jews who eat bagels and lox and watch the Rugrats Passover episode (guilty as charged on all counts, for what it's worth) but don't know the Ashrei from Achashverosh. Pew found increasing Jews with no religion among younger generations, with about 1-in-3 of those born after 1980 terming themselves Jews without religion.
“It’s very stark,” the deputy director of the Pew religion project told The New York Times. “Older Jews are Jews by religion. Younger Jews are Jews of no religion.”
And Jews aren't just becoming less Jewish; they are also becoming more Christian. About 1 in 3 said that those who believe Jesus was the Messiah can still be Jewish, what The New York Times politely described as "a surprising finding." Still another third brought a Christmas tree to their home last year — not to be confused with a Hannukah bush.
So if not religiosity, what does it actually mean to be Jewish? Well, survey respondents attempted to answer that, and 42 percent pointed to having a good sense of humor as "an essential part of what being Jewish means to them." Having a bar-mitzvah? That's nice, I guess. An appreciation for Woody Allen and hipster delis like Brooklyn's Mile End? Now that's real Judaism in 2013.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.