Social Connections: One Key to Engaging Jewishly

Sylvia Barack Fishman, Harriet Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using data from the Pew 2020 Survey of Jewish Americans, this study argues that “Connections,” that is, social groupings between Jews—family, friends, and community—correlate with both traditional and contemporary expressions of Jewishness (Jewish “Engagements”), including interests and activities that might seem unrelated to social interactions on the surface. Contemporary Jewish Engagements, often favored by younger American Jews who have diverse relationships with their own Jewishness, offer the potential for enhancing the vitality of American Jewish life by engaging Jews who, for a variety of reasons, are not engaged by traditional Jewish practices. Furthermore, the presence of even one adult in a household who identifies as “Jewish by religion” is correlated with both more extensive Jewish Connections and Jewish Engagements. Endogamous Jewish families provide the strongest household contexts for both extensive Jewish Connections and traditional Jewish Engagements. Positive attitudes toward connecting with other Jews are highly correlated with both traditional and contemporary Jewish Engagements. This study shows that contemporary Engagements are valuable not as a replacement for traditional Engagements, but rather because they offer a broad spectrum of contemporary younger American Jews an accessible and appealing way of engaging with their own Jewishness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-397
Number of pages37
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies


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