(JNS.org) New reports from the Pew Research Center and
Brandeis University’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) peg the
Jewish population of the United States at 6.7 million and 6.8 million,
Pew’s Religion and Public Life Project on Tuesday released “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” based on a survey of 3,475 Jews from Feb. 20 to June 13, 2013. The report estimated that there are 6.7 million Jews in the U.S., and that 78 percent of that population identifies as Jewish by religion, as opposed to by background or other criteria. A day earlier, SSRI released “American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012,” which concluded that there are 6.8 million American Jews, with about 81 percent identifying as Jewish by religion.
Prof. Leonard Saxe, SSRI’s director and the new report’s co-author, had estimated in December 2011 that the U.S. Jewish population was 6.4 million. Amid the release of the new figures, Saxe said the population increase as well as the stabilization of the number of those identifying as Jewish by religion (1.8 percent of the total American population, according to SSRI) could be interpreted as either a positive or negative narrative, being that synagogue membership and engagement with other Jewish institutions have not risen at the same rate as the Jewish population.
“You can either say, ‘Wow, this is a problem,’ or you can say, ‘This is an opportunity for the Jewish community,’” Saxe told JNS.org.
SSRI’s new data said that 24 percent of American Jews are 65 or older. More than 20 percent live in the state of New York, followed by 14 percent in California, 12 percent in Florida, 8 percent in New Jersey, and 5 percent each in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. SSRI also unveiled an interactive map of the U.S. Jewish population.