researchers concluded that of their estimated 6.5 million Jews, 5.5 million see themselves as Jews “by religion,” while 1 million more call themselves Jews for other reasons.
Saxe’s results present a paradox. While the findings show a higher number of Jews than previously thought, Saxe found that engagement in Jewish life has decreased. Even among those who identify as Jewish “by religion,” he found a majority do not belong to synagogues, do not participate in Jewish life cycle events or have not visited Israel — all indicators, according to Saxe, of engagement in the Jewish community.
“We have to stop worrying about whether the community will exist,” Saxe said. “Instead we should worry about the content, about how we make communal life meaningful for the many Jews who are out there.”