Singles ‘key to future of US Judaism’

June 20, 2008

A new study has identified the growing number of young singles as the “swing vote” of American Jewry, writes Shmuel Rosner.

The research found that in 1990, just 33 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews aged 25-39 were single. By 2000-01, the number had grown to 50 per cent.

Steven Cohen, a sociologist studying American Jewry, and Ari Kelman, an assistant professor of American studies at the University of California at Davis, called this group of Jewish singles the new “swing vote” of American Judaism.

The research was based on the 2007 National Survey of American Jews and interviews with 1,828 respondents.

The two scholars urge the American community to develop “organisations that are created by and for this younger demographic” arguing that these are essential to engage Jewish singles.

The study, commissioned by the  Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies in conjunction with the Reboot Identity project, found that young singles were not alienated from their Judaism and were looking for ways to express their interest. “Like their married counterparts, single Jews share similar interests in connecting Jewishly,” the study said.

However, “they shy away from available Jewish institutions in part because congregations, JCCs [Jewish Community Centres] and federations remain geared to the conventional family unit”. The singles, the study suggests, are proud to be Jewish and have many Jewish friends. But they practise religion less than in-married Jewish couples.

Last updated: 4:15pm, June 19 2008