What percentage of Jews in the US observe the Sabbath every week?
June 14, 2004 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Religionfilter: what percentage of Jews in the US observe the Sabbath every week? (or how many out of the total). Thanks!
posted by amberglow to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total)
According to the National Jewish Population Survey, the answer looks to be roughly a quarter. See this page for more information [and a handy chart] and this page for more information about the survey.
posted by jessamyn at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: thanks jess--is that the disputed survey tho?
posted by amberglow at 9:22 AM on June 14, 2004

I think that the organization and the survey are respected and that the measure is pretty accurate.

Jewish organizations like the Jewish Federation are very interested in keeping Jews Jewish. So they spend lots of time and money to uncover trends, and figure out what does the trick -- is it synagogue attendence? is it obeservation of jewish dietary laws or the sabbath? is it going to Israel on trips or to live? etc. Here's another study that found that the general population of Jews who light candles for sabbath is 24%. This is not the same as observing shabbat "for real" of course.
posted by zpousman at 9:41 AM on June 14, 2004

But what constitutes "for real"? Not using electricity? Not using money? Not watering the crops? Going to synagogue? I think it's clear that one can choose to observe a sabbath in many ways - from spending time with friends and family to not doing job-related work to having people over for a Friday night meal - any statistics will be self-reported and most likely not well-defined here.
posted by judith at 10:07 AM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: thanks, zpous.

here's a little on the disputes over the CJF study in 1990, and i've always wondered about the self-selecting nature of these studies, and what the orgs doing them want to prove or show. No one ever asks me or my family, or our friends, etc.

judith, i'm with you--"for real" is really up to us. Since most of us aren't orthodox, most of us don't observe the way they do (which is prob. the "for real" way zpous meant), if we do at all.
posted by amberglow at 10:34 AM on June 14, 2004

Even if you are orthodox, "for real" is up for debate. My father classifies himself as something between hasidic and orthodox and walks to temple every week and doesn't drive on shabbat, but he will use the phone and computer if it's already on. A bit hypocritical if you ask me, but that's another dicsussion in and of itself...
posted by amandaudoff at 1:22 PM on June 14, 2004

I don't even believe the one about 24% lighting candles. And, while my life is not an accurate cross-section of American Jewish society by any means, I know a lot of Jews, and I can't think of a single one who celebrates the sabbath in any way that you would notice, except my mother, who sometimes lights candles.
posted by bingo at 9:25 PM on June 15, 2004

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