The Jewish community in Central Maryland faces a range of challenges today. According to annual FBI data on hate crimes, Jews in Central Maryland are subject to various forms of anti-Semitism. Representative David Trone recently vacated his seat in the House of Representatives to run for the Senate seat of Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a stalwart in favor of Israel. A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that many Americans of Jewish origin participate, at least occasionally, both in some traditional religious practices, such as going to a synagogue or fasting on Yom Kippur, and in some Jewish cultural activities, such as preparing potato latkes, watching Israeli movies or reading Jewish news on the Internet.
However, among young adult Jews, two markedly divergent expressions of Judaism seem to be gaining ground: one that involves deeply embedded religion in all aspects of life and the other that involves little or no religion. Among all the respondents who indicate that they have some type of Jewish origin, those who were raised as Jews by religion have the highest retention rate. Jews without religion: people who describe themselves (religiously) as atheists, agnostics, or nothing in particular, but who have a Jewish parent or who were raised as Jews, and who still consider themselves Jewish in some way (whether ethnically, culturally, or because of their family background). Chapter 4 looks at marriage and families, including rates of intermarriage, how Jewish respondents say they are raising their children, and whether respondents attended Jewish day schools or camps.
By comparison, three-quarters of people raised as non-religious Jews are still Jewish today; approximately half are still non-religious Jews, and approximately one in five is now a religious Jew. However, in general, it is not true that Jewish cultural activities or individualized, self-made religious observances are a direct substitute for synagogue attendance and other traditional forms of Jewish observance. The experiment also found differences in the way in which respondents answered questions about the importance of “being Jewish” and of religion in their lives. Jews who need treatment and the health professionals who refer them for treatment may not be aware of Alcohol Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings between Jewish people who rely on chemicals (JACS) or Alcohol Anonymous (AA) in synagogues.
Chapter 3 explores Jewish practices and customs, including some traditional religious practices (such as synagogue attendance) and some more “Jewish cultural” activities. A third of Jewish adults (32%) are first or second generation immigrants, including 20% who were born in Europe or had a parent born in Europe and 4% who are first or second generation immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa region (including Israel). While reports of physical attacks are rare across the board, many of the other experiences of anti-Semitism are more common among younger Jews and Orthodox Jews (who often wear recognizable Jewish attire in public). Overall, 68% of those who say they were raised Jewish or had at least one Jewish parent now identify themselves as Jewish, including 49% who are now Jewish by religion and 19% who are now Jews without religion and 19% who are now Jews without religion.
However, older adults who were raised Jewish or who had at least one Jewish parent are more likely to identify as Jewish by religion, while a higher proportion of young adults say that they are Jewish, apart from religion. And 37% of younger Jewish adults say that, at least sometimes, they celebrate Shabbat in a way that makes it meaningful to them (though not necessarily in a way that follows Jewish law, such as abstaining from work), as do 35% of Jews aged 65 and older.