Rabbi To The Alienated
ARTHUR J. MAGIDA
Gila Colman Ruskin
is serving Baltimore
Pied Piper Of Tzedakah
Religiou s News Service
Doing good deeds is being taught
to Jews by a new mitzvah maven.
A sefer Torah at Hechel Shlomo Synagogue, Jerusalem.
American Jews Are Losing
Religious Identity With Judaism
GARY A. TOBIN
ews have become more and more
like other Americans. Most Jews
dress like their fellow Americans,
eat the same foods, live in the same
neighborhoods. They go to the same schools
. and work in the same offices.
Jews have also adopted most of the
habits, both good and bad, of the general
society. A few differences remain. Jews vote
differently, leaning more to the Democrats,
while other white, middle-class Americans
lean more toward Republicans. Jews are
more likely to be in white collar jobs than
other Americans. Jews have fewer children.
Jews are also different-in one area that
is ironically striking: Jews are much less
religious than Protestants and Catholics.
While other Americans are developing
stronger ties with organized religion and
religious beliefs, Jews are breaking their
The Gallup Organization has just
released a major report entitled "Religion
in America." The study is mainly about
Protestants and Catholics, but also in-
cludes a small sample of Jews. The
religious profile of Jews, especially in con-
trast to Protestants and Catholics, is pret-
Sixty-one percent of Protestants say
that religion is very important in their
lives, as do 52 percent of Catholics, but
only 30 percent of Jews. At the other end
of the spectrum on this same question,
only about ten percent of Protestants and
Catholics say that religion is not very im-
portant to them, compared to 35 percent of
Jews. While there seems to be a resurgence
Tobin is director of the Cohen Center for Modern
Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.
among Protestants and Catholics, Jews as
a group are drifting further away from
No matter which way you look at it, a
greater proportion of Jews are less formal-
ly religious than Protestants and Catholics.
The Gallup poll shows that 72 percent of
Protestants and 81 percent of Catholics
belong to a church, compared to 44 percent
of Jews belonging to a temple or synagogue.
The evidence from Jewish population
studies around the country point to a great
deal of exaggeration in Jews reporting
their synagogue membership. If they go to
services on the High Holidays, or used to
belong to a synagogue, or their parents
belong, people often say that they have a
current membership. In fact, while the 44
percent figure that Gallup reports is very
low, it may be really as low as 33 percent
While Jews belong at far less than half
the rate of Protestants and Catholics, they
also attend at about half the rate. While 41
percent of Protestants and 49 percent of
Catholics attend church in a typical week,
the number drops to 20 percent for Jews.
Gallup shows definitively that the Jewish
level of religious involvement on the whole
is vastly less than other Christian
Less formal religious behavior is ac-
companied by low levels of ritual obser-
vance in the home, little knowledge of
Judaism, and low levels of volunterism for
Jewish organizations. In a more
assimilated society, Jews cannot remain
Jews through the osmosis of neighborhood,
friendship, and family connections. Those
ties are also more tenuous today than they
were a generation ago, and certainly more
than two generations ago.
For years, Jews have been less religious
Continued on Page 10
CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ
A profile look at ADRDA's
program coordinator Marjorie Fuller.
Fast sticks and hard floors
don't stand in this team's way.
has taken the role
as Detroit's leading
New Moon For Feminists
A group of young women have re-
discovered, an ancient Jewish rite.
Game Of Love
A new board game may lead
to new awareness.
Life In Israel
For Women •
February 12, 1988
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS