Musing: Whistling Past the Maternity Ward

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One of the many post-mortem dissections of the recently released Pew study of American Jews appeared in the Forward last week.  It contended that the Orthodox community “isn’t growing nearly as fast as some of its boosters claim.”  The 10% of the American Jewish population that identify as Orthodox Jews, the piece explains, is “up only 2% from 10 years ago.”

What’s more, the article notes, “only 48% of people who were brought up Orthodox remain Orthodox.”

As it happens, though, the Orthodox “retention rate” has risen considerably in recent decades. Whereas, indeed, only 22% of people now 65 and older raised Orthodox still call themselves that, fully 57% of people aged 30-49 raised Orthodox do.  And for those under 30, the percentage of raised-Orthodox Jews who are still Orthodox is 83%.

As to the “up only 2%” observation, it would seem that some journalists could use a math refresher.  Growth from 8% to 10% represents a rise of fully 25% – a rather impressive figure indeed.

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