It last happened in 1888 and, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for another 77,798 years: the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.
This year, Nov. 28 is Thanksgiving and the first full day of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which begins at sundown the previous night.
For many Jewish Americans, this is no trivial convergence, but a once-in-an-eternity opportunity to simultaneously celebrate two favorite holidays, one quintessentially American, the other quintessentially Jewish.
The top religion story of 2012 was the “rise of the ‘Nones’” — the one in five adults in the U.S. eschewing any religious label. That trend is now evidenced across the American religious spectrum, including in Jewish communities. About 22 percent of Jews now describe themselves as having no religion, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews.
“Fully a fifth today of Jews in the United States are people who say they have no religion. They’re atheists, agnostics, or, the largest single subgroup, nothing in particular,” said Alan Cooperman, co-author of the study.
The trend of disaffiliation mimics that of other backgrounds, particularly by age. For example, 93 percent of Greatest Generation Jews (those born between 1914 and 1947) identified as being Jewish by religion, while only 68 percent of Millennial Jews (those born after 1980) say the same.
WASHINGTON — In the most comprehensive study of American Jews in 12 years, a strong majority said being Jewish is mostly about ancestry or culture, not the religious practice of Judaism.
“A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, shows strong secularist trends most clearly seen in one finding: 62 percent of U.S. Jews said Jewishness is largely about culture or ancestry; just 15 percent said it’s about religious belief.
“Non-Jews may be stunned by it,” said Alan Cooperman, co-author of the study. “Being Jewish to most Jews in America today is not a matter of religion.”
More than 100 prominent Jewish Americans with varying religious and political viewpoints have thrown their support behind the Israeli government’s decision to restart long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the 140 signatories — including former Sen. Joseph Lieberman; professor Alan Dershowitz; philanthropist Charles Bronfman; and Republican Jewish Coalition board member Morris W. Offit — said they appreciated the risks the government is taking to achieve peace.
While not everyone in the American Jewish community supports territorial compromise with the Palestinians, the letter represents a fairly broad consensus that Israel must take some risks to reach a peace deal.