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Snapshots of Jewish Life

DEBATING IDENTITY. Jews in America. Third in a four-part series

April 22, 1998

American Jews are:

Immigrants: 10%

Born in the U.S.:

1st generation: 19%

2nd generation: 42%

3rd generation: 19%

4th generation: 4%

5th generation: 4%

Other: 2%

Don't know: 1%


"I did not want to raise my children in a society that discriminated . . . . When I saw police pelting my students and beating them up for peacefully demonstrating, that's when I said, 'There's no hope for repair in this country.' "

--Sharon Joffee, explaining why she emigrated from South Africa in 1977


Percentage of American Jews who are . . .

Ashkenazi: 79%

Sephardi: 8%

Mixed/both: 3%

Other: 2%

Don't know: 8%

Note: Ashkenazi Jews are of Eastern European descent; Sephardi are primarily from countries in the Islamic world.


"Being a transitional generation is not very easy. You are attached to the past, but you must move on to the future."

--Rabi David Shofet, an Iranian immigrant who heads the Nessah Israel Congregation in Santa Monica


Do you belong to a synagogue or temple?


All Men Women Don't belong 56% 52% 58% -Never belong 32% 31% 33% -Belonged in past 23% 21% 25% Belong 44% 48% 42%



Are you concerned that the number of people who consider themselves Jewish will diminish over the next couple of generations?

Yes: 55%

No: 41%

Don't know: 4%

Source: L.A. Times Poll

Times Poll results are also available on the World Wide Web at

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