About a million of the six million American Jews say being Jewish is very important to them, but that they find their Jewish engagement outside of a synagogue, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The survey shows that there is a third way to be Jewish, its sponsor, the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, wrote in a press release. A person can be an observant Jew, who attends synagogue; a cultural Jew, who enjoys Jewish humor or an “engaged and congregationally unaffiliated” Jew.
“These Jews represent an opportunity for engagement. Their interests and distinctiveness make them candidates for a deeper involvement in Jewish life, while their social profile explains some of their tendencies to distance themselves from conventional religious life,” said Professor Steven M. Cohen of New York University.
As many as 40 percent of the 1 million engaged and unaffiliated Jews are under the age of 35, the Workmen’s Circle study showed. Three in five fast on Yom Kippur; almost half say they have a special Friday night meal “at least sometimes” and 56 percent see themselves as very attached to Israel.
Just under half of the group are married, with 18 percent intermarried and 22 percent married to other Jews. Slightly more than half identify as liberals.
This group is part of a broader trend. One in five Americans do not identify as part of any specific denomination, although many of these unaffiliated still say they pray and believe in God, according to a Pew Research Center study released Oct. 9.