gearJewish Identity and Peoplehood

The percentage of Jewish people who feel that being Jewish and being part of a Jewish community is important to them is a central measure of Jewish commitment and connection. Of particular concern are the people who would like to be part of a Jewish community but do not feel that they are.

Jewish peoplehood involves the sense of mutual Jewish responsibility; an attachment to Israel; and a sense of shared Jewish values, culture, traditions, and history across the divides that often separate Jews. The following information is reported from the 2002 Pittsburgh Jewish Study, analyzed and composed by Ukeles Associates, Inc. 

Key Performance Metrics

Percentage (2002)
Percentage of Jewish persons who say being Jewish is VERY important to them 67%
Percentage of Jewish persons who say being Jewish is NOT important to them (not very, not at all) 8%
Percentage of Jewish persons who say being connected to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is VERY important to them 39%
Percentage of Jewish persons who say being connected to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is NOT important to them (not very, not at all) 24%
Percentage of Jewish persons who feel A LOT part of the Pittsburgh Jewish community 36%
Percentage of Jewish persons who DO NOT FEEL part of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community (only a little, not at all) 35%
Percentage of children in intermarried households being raised Jewish (Jewish plus Jewish and something else) 47%
Percentage of Jewish persons who feel that Israel is a VERY important part of their Jewish identity 51%

  • In Pittsburgh in 2002, the percentage of respondents reporting that being Jewish is very important to them (67%) was significantly higher than the percentage reported  at about the same time in the National Jewish Population Survey (52%). More recent studies of Jewish communities in the Midwest show a level of Jewish self-identification that is higher than that of respondents in Pittsburgh.

    Importance of Being Jewish

    In most Jewish communities across the United States, more people report that being Jewish is very important to them than do people who report that being part of a Jewish community is very important to them. In this regard, Pittsburgh is not different. In 2002, 67% of Pittsburgh respondents said that being Jewish is very important to them; only 39% said that being part of the Pittsburgh Jewish community is very important.

    The 2002 data from Pittsburgh shows that only 36% of Jews feel A LOT part of the Jewish community.

    The percentage of people who do not feel part of the Jewish community (35%) is higher than the percentage for whom being part of the community is not important (24%). That means that people who want to participate are not participating.

  • Jewish respondents who have traveled to Israel are twice as likely to view Israel as a very important part of their Jewish identity.

    Israel Importance

    One cannot assume causality – i.e., people may go to Israel because Israel is already an important aspect of their identity. Nonetheless, the data shows a very strong relationship between being connected to Israel and having been there.

The 2002 Pittsburgh Jewish Community can be found here.