Pew Research Center's Release of

The 2020 survey of Jewish Americans

Jewish Together takes an in-depth look at Pew Research Center's latest survey of Jewish-American Life

Jewish Americans in 2020, the recent Pew Research Center report, is a comprehensive look at the contemporary nature of Jewish identity and engagement in our society based on a survey of more than 4,700 respondents. For Pew’s summary of key findings, see here​. The new report is Pew’s first on Jewish Americans since 2013.



Although American Jews are remarkably different from one another, they are still united by core beliefs, attitudes, practices, habits of thinking, and ways of engaging with the organized Jewish community. As in 2013, the 2020 report showed that Jews, in general, are older, have higher levels of education and income, and are disproportionately concentrated in the Northeast compared to all other Americans. Jews are also slowly but gradually becoming more racially and ethnically diverse; while 92% of American Jews identify as non-Hispanic whites, only 85% of American Jews aged 18 to 29 do so.

Another common thread is the rising concern among American Jews about antisemitism, with 75% saying that they see more antisemitism in our society than five years ago and just over half saying that they “feel less safe” than they did five years ago, though just one in ten says they have avoided Jewish events or gatherings as a result. (Recall that this survey was done before the recent uptick in antisemitism in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.) 

The following highlights the data in each topic area with suggestions to help you, your colleagues, and leadership engage around this data. For those topic areas that interest you the most, each includes a link to the corresponding section of the complete report to help you go more in-depth with the data.  The report contains easy-to-read charts with top-line explanations of the data.



On average, Jews have higher levels of education and income than other Americans

  • College degrees: 58% of Jews vs. 29% of U.S. adults
  • Graduate degrees: 28% of Jews vs. 11% of U.S. adults
  • Household income more than $100K: 54% of Jews vs. 19% of U.S. adults

Jews are older than other Americans

  • ½ of Jewish adults are over the age of 50

Jews have fewer children than other Americans, except among Orthodox Jews

  • Average number of children among adults ages 40-59: Jews 1.9 vs. U.S. adults 2.3
  • Orthodox fertility rate is at least 2x other Jews

Where Jews Live


Identity and Belief

American Jews feel that being Jewish can be a matter of religion, ancestry, culture, or some combination of the three.  More say it is about culture (55%) or ancestry (52%) than about religion (36%).

Strong majorities of American Jews continue to feel connected to the Jewish people

  • 85% feel a great deal or some sense of belonging to the Jewish people
  • 79% feel a great deal or some responsibility to help Jews in need 
  • 76% say being Jewish is very or somewhat important to them

When queried about essential aspects of being Jewish 

  • 76% said remembering the Holocaust
  • 72% said leading an ethical and moral life
  • 59% said working for justice and equality in society
  • 15% said observing Jewish law

Jewish Denominational Identity – 35% of those who identify with a branch of Judaism are synagogue members

  • 37% Reform
  • 17% Conservative 
  • 9% Orthodox
  • 4% smaller denominations (Reconstructionist, Renewal, Humanist, etc.) or multiple movements
  • 32% no denomination

Thought Questions Related to This Data

  • What do low affiliation rates with movements mean for Federation partnerships with synagogues?
  • How can we partner with/support synagogues in exploring new models and partnerships for engaging people?
  • Are Federations providing/funding programs that are meeting people where they are?
  • Are Federations providing/funding the resources people need/want?
  • What are Jews of different ages doing that Federations should be paying attention to?
  • How will your Federation evaluate what programs or approaches you will stop doing or stop relying on based on this data?
    • We keep adding programs and spreading resources thinner, competing against ourselves for people’s limited time and attention.
    • If we believe this data, we need to look at the things we are doing which could hurt us with our communities.  For example: assuming everyone sees Israel as core to their Jewish identity and understand why they should care about Israel, especially if they are the type of people who like to stay away from politics.

Jewish Practices and Customs

Cultural Jewish practices remain popular, but so do some Jewish religious rituals

  • Of all Jewish practices and customs, enjoying Jewish food is the most popular—70% of Jews say they enjoy “traditional” (the meaning is quite elastic) Jewish foods
  • Sharing holidays or cultural activities with non-Jews (62%)
  • Visiting synagogues and other historic Jewish sites while traveling (57%)
  • The most popular religious expressions are holding or attending a seder (62% did so in the previous year), observing a life cycle ritual such as attending a bar/bat mitzvah or lighting a yahrtzeit candle (61%), fasting for all or part of Yom Kippur (46%)
  • 30% of Jews say that political engagement is part and parcel of their Jewishness

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • What do low affiliation rates and an increase in non-identification with movements mean for Federation partnerships with synagogues?
  • How can we capitalize on the propensity of Jews to participate in political activity?
  • How can we partner with/support synagogues in exploring new models and partnerships for engaging people?
  • How can we appeal more to the cultural aspects of people’s Jewish identities?

Marriage, Family and Children

Intermarriage rates continue to climb

  • Among Jews married between 2010 and 2020, 61% have a non-Jewish spouse, up from 45% among Jews who married between 2000 and 2009.
  • Children of intermarriage increasingly identify as Jews 
  • Among all people with one Jewish parent, those under age 50 are much more likely to identify as Jewish today (47%) than those age 50+ (just 21%)
  • 57% of intermarried parents are raising their children exclusively as Jews (with an additional 12% raising them “partly Jewish”) 

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • How are we creating communal spaces and experiences that feel welcoming and inclusive to diverse families?
  • What are intermarried families doing Jewishly that Federations should pay attention to?
  • Are there changes we should be making to engage more intermarried couples, families, and individuals?
  • How can we share what has changed over the past decade to engage families and individuals who may have opted out?
  • What does this mean for our funding or programs like PJ and Birthright?
  • Do we continue as is?
  • Do we double down?
  • Do we need new national programs?

Jewish Community and Connectedness

There are signs of increasing religious divergence, with growth both among the most traditional parts of the community and secular Jews

  • There are proportionally more Orthodox and more secular Jews among younger than older adults  
  • The religious middle – Reform and Conservative – is declining among younger adults
  • Fewer than one in ten Orthodox Jews (9%) say that they have a lot in common with Reform Jews; the same percentage of Reform Jews say that they have a lot in common with Orthodox Jews
  • A majority of Jews have Jewish friends (72%)
  • 61% of Jews by religion report that they made a donation to a Jewish charity in the last year, while just 11% of secular Jews say that

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • Civil Discourse—with increasing divergence within the community, what commonalities can help to bring us around the table?

Attitudes Towards Israel

Connections to Israel remain strong

  • More than 80% of U.S. Jews say caring about Israel is essential or important (but not essential) to what being Jewish means to them 
  • Nearly half of all Jews have been to Israel  
  • Nearly 60% of Jews say they are somewhat or very emotionally attached to Israel 
  • Only a third think that the Israeli government is making a sincere effort for peace with the Palestinians, with just 24% of Jewish adults under 30 saying that they think these efforts are sincere, while 18% say the same about Palestinian leadership
  • A slim majority say they have heard of the BDS movement (56%), while 10% of Jews overall support the BDS movement. Among younger Jews and secular Jews, fewer have heard of BDS, but support for it is slightly higher (13%)

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • What does the data around connection to Israel mean for Peoplehood programs?
  • How do we best respond to BDS?
  • Shlichim?
  • P2G?
  • Orthodox Jews feel the most affinity toward Jews in Israel; are they involved in our Peoplehood programs?
  • How do we get people in our local communities who feel they have nothing in common to talk or participate in programming together?
  • Who are the bridge builders in our community that can help us?

Antisemitism and Jewish Views on Discrimination

Antisemitism is a growing concern for American Jews 

  • Nearly half say there is a lot of antisemitism in the U.S. today
  • Three-quarters say there is more antisemitism now than five years ago
  • More than half say they feel less safe than they did five years ago
  • Half say they have personally experienced antisemitism in the past year, ranging from seeing antisemitic graffiti or vandalism to online harassment and physical attacks or threats

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • How does this data support community security efforts?
  • How can communities bolster local public affairs efforts to combat antisemitism and build relationships with non-Jewish community members?
  • What is the role of JFNA in these efforts?
  • What is the role of other national organizations in these efforts?

Racial and Ethnic Diversity

There is increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish population

  • 8% of all Jews identify as Hispanic, Black, Asian, another race, or multiracial, and that is rising across age groups – 3% among those 65+ and 15% among those under age 30
  • 17% of Jews live in households where at least one person is Hispanic, Black, Asian, another race, or multiracial 

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • While the percentage of Jews who are racially and ethnically diverse is still relatively small, diversity in the Jewish community is a growing tren.  When we collaborate with, advocate for, and support other minority groups in society, it is important to keep in mind that an increasing number of Jews also have other minority identities as well
  • Does your community provide a seat at the table for everyone?
  • Have you engaged in JFNA’s JEDI Curriculum?
  • What changes have you made to the way your Board and Committees operate to engage more racially and ethnically diverse Jews as lay leaders?
  • Is your federation professionally diverse?
  • Does your (and community orgs) marketing reflect inclusivity?

Economics and Wellbeing

Economic vulnerability and distress affect a significant minority of Jews

  • 26% report they had difficulty paying for medical care, rent or mortgage, food, or other bills in the past year
  • 17% report they are just meeting or can’t meet their basic expenses
  • 10% live in households with less than $30,000 annual income – more likely for those younger than 30 older than 64
  • Lower levels of income are associated with lower levels of satisfaction with family life, social life, and physical health, and with lower levels of communal involvement and participation
  • Those who identify as Conservative or Reform Jews are substantially more likely than Orthodox to have incomes over $100,000
  • In addition, individuals younger than 30 and older than 64 are more likely to have incomes less than $30,000

Thought Questions Related to this Data

  • Are programs in your community designed to support the economically insecure? Are they targeted at the right populations?
  • Does your community need more or less support in this area?

Some Final Questions:

  • Assuming your community looks similar to the overall Jewish population (there will always be local variations)
  • Are philanthropic dollars being allocated/granted in a way that best meets the need of the community?
  • Does your community’s allocation between local and overseas need to be adjusted to better reflect communal ties to Israel?
  • Is community programming meeting the needs of all segments of your population?
  • Are organizational priorities in line with the community’s makeup and needs?
  • Is organizational leadership representative of the larger population?
  • If you have done a community study recently, do these numbers mesh with your findings?
  • If you are planning for a community study in the near future, how might you use/build upon this data for your own study?
  • How is your community similar to or different from national averages, and what might this mean for partnering with national programs?