Defining American Jewry from Religious and Ethnic Perspectives: The Transitions to Greater Heterogeneity

Publication Date: January 2006

Publisher: Association for the Sociology of Religion

Author(s): Vivian Klaff

Research Area: Culture and religion

Keywords: American Jews; Religious denominations; Jewish identification

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The passage of time has led to considerable changes in the character of the American Jewish population. One of these changes has been the increasing distinction between religion and ethnicity as an expression of identification with the Jewish group. The NJPS 2000-01 was used to examine the attitudes and behavior along religious and ethnic dimensions for respondents who are members and/or self identify with the three major Jewish denominations and a fairly large group of unaffiliated persons and persons who do not identify with any of these denominations but who do state that they are Jewish. The results indicate that those persons with stronger connections to Judaism, on either attitude or behavior, in general also have a stronger positive connection to ethnic Jewishness than those who express their connection through less traditional religious norms and values.