Steven Cohen, a professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College is also a consultant to the Pew center study on Jews. In this capacity he finds that: “Orthodox birthrates are soaring” and “the sky is falling on the rest of the Jewish population.”
There are presently 5.5 million Jews in America according to the study. This comes out to 2.2% of the U.S. population a percentage level that has held for the last 20 years. Of those Jews, 10% consider themselves Orthodox, 18% consider themselves conservative, 35% Reform and 30% no denomination.
The major difference is in the age of this population. Of the generation of grandparents ages 56-73, only 5% are Orthodox. The parent generation ages 28-45, has 15% Orthodox Jews. The children’s generation, ages 0-17 is 27% Orthodox. That means from the senior generation to the youngest there is over a 500% increase from 5% to 27%! G-d willing these children should live and be well to become a much larger adult generation than what we have presently.
There are a number of reasons for the increase and growth of Orthodox Jewry.
First of all Orthodox Jews have only a 2% intermarriage rate. (The halachic definition would say an intermarried couple is not Orthodox but the Pew report doesn’t use halacha as its parameter for what makes someone Orthodox.) American Jewish couples that are intermarried amount to 44%
Secondly, the Average American Jewish family has 1.9 children and the average Orthodox family 4.1 children.
Thirdly, Orthodox Jews marry younger. According to the AJC in a 2006 study they found, that only 20% of non-Orthodox women aged 18-29 were married whereas by Orthodox Jews the number was 80%.
The nature of Orthodox life gives it more punch compared to its size. Affiliation is high with 69% of Orthodox belonging to a congregation as opposed to 31% non-Orthodox. Since generosity is a strong value in Orthodox life 92% contribute to Jewish causes as opposed to 56% non-orthodox.
Regarding a relationship with Israel 91% of Orthodox Jews have an attachment that ranges from “somewhat” to “very attached” opposed to non–Orthodox 69%. 61% percent non-orthodox Jews believe a two state solution is viable and only 30% Orthodox Jews do.
In American politics 70% overall say they are Democrats or have democratic leanings and only 22% are republican or lean towards it. By Orthodox Jews 57% are republican and only 36% are Democrats. This may be caused by the permissive liberal culture that took over the Democratic platform as opposed to the “New Deal” Democrat which dealt more with practicalities and less with permissive values.