The Pew Research Center recently released a new survey of American Jews, and its findings indicate a trend of decreasing religiousness among American Jews, and in particular, among my generation -- the 'Millennials.' These findings have sparked a lot of concern and discussion because of its potential implications for the future of American Jewry. Is this bad for the Jews?!
If I'm any indication, then I think the answer is no, not necessarily.
I am 23 -- a 'Millennial.' I identify with the Reform movement, and I attended Hebrew school for eight years, although there was many a Sunday morning when I wanted to stay in bed, and many a Wednesday afternoon when I longed to be at play rehearsal instead of trudging through the Ve-ahavta. During my bat mitzvah, I gave a speech about trying to come to terms with the hypocrisy of the Jews becoming slave owners shortly after escaping slavery in Egypt. I (usually) fast on Yom Kippur, infrequently attend religious services and have a (Hebrew) tattoo. I have dated more non-Jews than Jews. I care deeply about the Jewish community and its future, and I plan to raise my children Jewish. And I don't believe in God.
My Jewish identity is complex, to be sure, and it defies easy categorization. But I don't think it's contradictory, or problematic. To find out why, click here to read my piece in the Cover Story of this week's Jewish Journal.
What do you think? Can you be a 'Jew by religion' if you don't believe in God?