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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

October 8, 2013

Judaism in the United States

The Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project just released “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.” This information comes from a poll and then analysis of the data obtained through the poll. You may find that some of this material would relate to your curriculum.


  • What are the major differences between Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism? (This might lead to research.)
  • Which of these three groups is growing in size? (Orthodox, while the others are shrinking.)
  • Where do most Jews live today? (80 percent live in the U.S. or Israel.)

World Religions

  • Because a person can be Jewish because of their ancestry rather than their religious practice, what does being Jewish mean? (The report investigates this complex question.)
  • The number of people practicing Judaism has declined over the years. Does this decline resemble the change in practice for other religious groups in the U.S.? (The number of Jews, ages 18-29, who say they have no religion parallels the overall disaffiliation with religious groups in the US.)
  • When the Jewish people returned to rebuild Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon, the prophet Nehemiah discouraged the people from marrying non-Jews in order to preserve the faith. How does marrying outside of Judaism affect Jewish practice today? (Jews who marry other Jews are more likely to observe religious practices than those who marry a non-Jew. The former group are more likely to raise their children Jewish than the latter group.)

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