County Jewish population % of total 1 Rockland County, New York 91,300 31.4% 2 Kings County, New York 561,000 22.4% 3 New York County, New York 314,500 19.9% 4 Palm Beach County, Florida 255,550 19.4% 5 Nassau County, New York 230,000 17.2% 6 Westchester County, New York 136,000 14.3% 7 Broward County, Florida 206,700 11.8% 8 Montgomery County, Maryland 113,000 11.6% 9 Ocean County, New Jersey 61,500 10.7% 10 Marin County, California 26,100 10.3% 11 Bergen County, New Jersey 92,500 10.2% 12 Monmouth County, New Jersey 64,000 10.2% 13 Sullivan County, New York 7,425 9.6% 14 Norfolk County, Massachusetts 63,600 9.5% 15 Queens County, New York 198,000 8.9% 16 Orange County, New York 32,300 8.7% 17 San Francisco County, California 65,800 8.2% 18 Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 64,500 8.1% 19 Middlesex County, Massachusetts 113,800 7.6% 20 Baltimore County, Maryland 60,000 7.5% 21 Lake County, Illinois 51,300 7.3% 21 Richmond County, New York 34,000 7.3% 23 Santa Clara County, California 128,000 7.2% 24 Arlington County, Virginia 14,000 6.7% 24 San Mateo County, California 47,800 6.7% 26 Bucks County, Pennsylvania 41,400 6.6% 26 Ventura County, California 54,000 6.6% 28 Middlesex County, New Jersey 52,000 6.4% 29 Camden County, New Jersey 32,100 6.2% 29 Essex County, New Jersey 48,800 6.2% 31 Falls Church City, Virginia 750 6.1% 32 Morris County, New Jersey 29,700 6.0% 32 Howard County, Maryland 17,200 6.0% 34 Somerset County, New Jersey 19,000 5.9% County Jewish population % of total 35 Suffolk County, New York 86,000 5.8% 36 Cuyahoga County, Ohio 70,300 5.5% 37 Fulton County, Georgia 50,000 5.4% 38 Los Angeles County, California 518,000 5.3% 39 Ozaukee County, Wisconsin 4,500 5.2% 40 Fairfield County, Connecticut 47,200 5.1% 40 Oakland County, Michigan 61,200 5.1% 42 Baltimore City, Maryland 30,900 5.0% 42 St. Louis County, Missouri 49,600 5.0% 44 Nantucket County, Massachusetts 500 4.9% 45 Union County, New Jersey 25,800 4.8% 45 Denver County, Colorado 28,700 4.8% 45 Sonoma County, California 23,100 4.8% 48 Washington, District of Columbia 28,000 4.7% 49 Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania 66,800 4.4% 49 Pitkin County, Colorado 750 4.4% 51 Arapahoe County, Colorado 24,600 4.3% 51 Geauga County, Ohio 4,000 4.3% 51 Atlantic County, New Jersey 11,700 4.3% 51 Miami-Dade County, Florida 106,300 4.3% 55 Cook County, Illinois 220,200 4.2% 55 Chester County, Pennsylvania 20,900 4.2% 57 Boulder County, Colorado 12,000 4.1% 58 Passaic County, New Jersey 20,000 4.0% 59 Albany County, New York 12,000 3.9% 59 Alameda County, California 59,100 3.9% 59 Putnam County, New York 3,900 3.9% 59 Bronx County, New York 54,000 3.9% 63 Delaware County, Pennsylvania 21,000 3.8% 64 Suffolk County, Massachusetts 27,000 3.7% 64 Clark County, Nevada 72,300 3.7% 66 DeKalb County, Georgia 25,000 3.6% 66 Fairfax County, Virginia 38,900 3.6% 68 Alexandria, Virginia 4,900 3.5% County Jewish population % of total 69 Napa County, California 4,600 3.4% 69 Dutchess County, New York 10,000 3.4% 69 Schenectady County, New York 5,200 3.4% 72 Fairfax City, Virginia 750 3.3% 72 Hartford County, Connecticut 29,600 3.3% 72 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 40,500 3.3% 72 Berkshire County, Massachusetts 4,300 3.3% 76 Ulster County, New York 5,900 3.2% 77 New Haven County, Connecticut 27,100 3.1% 77 Contra Costa County, California 32,100 3.1% 79 Essex County, Massachusetts 22,300 3.0% 80 Sussex County, New Jersey 4,300 2.9% 80 San Diego County, California 89,000 2.9% 80 Burlington County, New Jersey 12,900 2.9% 83 Orange County, California 83,750 2.8% 83 Johnson County, Kansas 15,000 2.8% 85 Pinellas County, Florida 25,000 2.7% 85 Multnomah County, Oregon 20,000 2.7% 85 Hamilton County, Ohio 21,400 2.7% 88 Sarasota County, Florida 9,950 2.6% 88 Monroe County, New York 19,000 2.6% 90 Hennepin County, Minnesota 29,300 2.5% 90 Cobb County, Georgia 17,300 2.5% 90 Broomfield County, Colorado 1,400 2.5% 90 Collier County, Florida 8,000 2.5% 90 Mercer County, New Jersey 9,000 2.5% 95 Cumberland County, Maine 6,775 2.4% 95 Seminole County, Florida 10,000 2.4% 97 Cherokee County, Georgia 5,000 2.3% 97 Santa Fe County, New Mexico 3,300 2.3% 97 Hampden County, Massachusetts 10,600 2.3% 97 Santa Cruz County, California 6,000 2.3% 97 Dukes County, Massachusetts 300 2.3% Assimilation and population changes
These parallel themes have facilitated the extraordinary economic, political, and social success of the American Jewish community, but also have contributed to widespread cultural assimilation. More recently however, the propriety and degree of assimilation has also become a significant and controversial issue within the modern American Jewish community, with both political and religious skeptics.
While not all Jews disapprove of intermarriage, many members of the Jewish community have become concerned that the high rate of interfaith marriage will result in the eventual disappearance of the American Jewish community. Intermarriage rates have risen from roughly 6% in 1950 and 25% in 1974, to approximately 4050% in the year 2000. By 2013, the intermarriage rate had risen to 71%. This, in combination with the comparatively low birthrate in the Jewish community, has led to a 5% decline in the Jewish population of the United States in the 1990s. In addition to this, when compared with the general American population, the American Jewish community is slightly older.
A third of intermarried couples provide their children with a Jewish upbringing, and doing so is more common among intermarried families raising their children in areas with high Jewish populations. The Boston area, for example, is exceptional in that an estimated 60% percent of children of intermarriages are being raised Jewish, meaning that intermarriage would actually be contributing to a net increase in the number of Jews. As well, some children raised through intermarriage rediscover and embrace their Jewish roots when they themselves marry and have children.
In contrast to the ongoing trends of assimilation, some communities within American Jewry, such as Orthodox Jews, have significantly higher birth rates and lower intermarriage rates, and are growing rapidly. The proportion of Jewish synagogue members who were Orthodox rose from 11% in 1971 to 21% in 2000, while the overall Jewish community declined in number. In 2000, there were 360,000 so-called “ultra-orthodox” (Haredi) Jews in USA (7.2%). The figure for 2006 is estimated at 468,000 (9.4%). Data from the Pew Center shows that as of 2013, 27% of American Jews under the age of 18 live in Orthodox households, a dramatic increase from Jews aged 18 to 29, only 11% of whom are Orthodox. The UJA-Federation of New York reports that 60% of Jewish children in the New York City area live in Orthodox homes. In addition to economizing and sharing, Orthodox communities depend on government aid to support their high birth rate and large families. The Hasidic village of New Square, New York receives Section 8 housing subsidies at a higher rate than the rest of the region, and half of the population in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, New York receive food stamps, while a third receive Medicaid.
About half of the American Jews are considered to be religious. Out of this 2,831,000 religious Jewish population, 92% are non-Hispanic white, 5% Hispanic (Most commonly from Argentina, Venezuela, or Cuba), 1% Asian (Mostly Bukharian and Persian Jews), 1% Black and 1% Other (mixed race etc.). Almost this many non-religious Jews exist in United States, the proportion of Whites being higher than that among the religious population.
Many Jews identify as being of Middle Eastern descentor simply as “Jews”as supported by genetic research. As with other oppressed racial and ethnocultural groups, Jews have a complex relationship to the concept of “whiteness,” and as a result, many Americans of Jewish descent do not self-identify as white.
The American Jewish community includes African American Jews and other American Jews of African descent (such as American Beta Israel), excluding North African Jewish Americans, who are considered Sephardi and are thus classified as white. Estimates of the number of American Jews of African descent in the United States range from 20,000 to 200,000. Jews of African descent belong to all of American Jewish denominations. Like their white Jewish counterparts, some black Jews are Jewish atheists or ethnic Jews.
Notable African-American Jews include Lisa Bonet, Sammy Davis, Jr., Rashida Jones, Yaphet Kotto, Jordan Farmar, Taylor Mays, and rabbis Capers Funnye and Alysa Stanton.
Relations between American Jews of African descent and other Jewish Americans are generally cordial. There are, however, disagreements with a specific minority among African-Americans who consider themselves, but not other Jews, to be the true descendants of the Israelites of the Torah. They are generally not considered to be members of the mainstream Jewish community, since they have not formally converted to Judaism, nor are they ethnically related to other Jews. One such group, the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, emigrated to Israel and was granted permanent residency status there.
Education plays a major role as a part of Jewish identity; as Jewish culture puts a special premium on it and stresses the importance of cultivation of intellectual pursuits, scholarship and learning, American Jews as a group tend to be better educated and earn more than Americans as a whole. Forty-four percent (55% of Reform Jews) report family incomes of over $100,000 compared to 19% of all Americans, with the next highest group being Hindus at 43%. And while 27% of Americans have had college or postgraduate education, fifty-nine percent (66% of Reform Jews) of American Jews have, the second highest of any religious group after American Hindus. 31% of American Jews hold a graduate degree, this figure is compared with the general American population where 11% of Americans hold a graduate degree. White collar professional jobs have been attractive to Jews and much of the community tend to take up professional white collar careers requiring tertiary education involving formal credentials where the respectability and reputability of professional jobs is highly prized within Jewish culture. While 46% of Americans work in professional and managerial jobs, 61% of American Jews work as professionals, many of whom are highly educated, salaried professionals whose work is largely self-directed in management, professional, and related occupations such as engineering, science, medicine, investment banking, finance, law, and academia.
Much of the Jewish American community lead educated, professional and upper middle class lifestyles. While the median household net worth of the typical American family is $99,500, among American Jews the figure is $443,000. In addition, the median Jewish American income is estimated to be in the range of $97,000 to $98,000, nearly twice as high the American national median. Either of these two statistics may be confounded by the fact that the Jewish population is on average older than other religious groups in the country, with 51% of polled adults over the age of 50 compared to 41% nationally. Older people tend to both have higher income and be more highly educated.
While the median income of Jewish Americans is high, there are still small pockets of poverty. In the New York area, there are approximately 560,000 Jews living in poor or near-poor households, representing about 20% of the New York metropolitan Jewish community. Most affected are children, the elderly, immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Orthodox families.
According to analysis by Gallup, American Jews have the highest well-being of any ethnic or religious group in America.
The great majority of school-age Jewish students attend public schools, although Jewish day schools and yeshivas are to be found throughout the country. Jewish cultural studies and Hebrew language instruction is also commonly offered at synagogues in the form of supplementary Hebrew schools or Sunday schools.
From the early 1900s until the 1950s, quota systems were imposed at elite colleges and universities particularly in the Northeast, as a response to the growing number of children of recent Jewish immigrants; these limited the number of Jewish students accepted, and greatly reduced their previous attendance. Jewish enrollment at Cornell’s School of Medicine fell from 40% to 4% between the world wars, and Harvard’s fell from 30% to 4%. Before 1945, only a few Jewish professors were permitted as instructors at elite universities. In 1941, for example, antisemitism drove Milton Friedman from a non-tenured assistant professorship at the University of WisconsinMadison.Harry Levin became the first Jewish full professor in the Harvard English department in 1943, but the Economics department decided not to hire Paul Samuelson in 1948. Harvard hired its first Jewish biochemists in 1954.
Today, American Jews no longer face the discrimination in higher education that they did in the past, particularly in the Ivy League. For example, by 1986, a third of the presidents of the elite undergraduate final clubs at Harvard were Jewish.Rick Levin has been president of Yale University since 1993, Judith Rodin was president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 2004 (and is currently president of the Rockefeller Foundation), Paul Samuelson’s nephew, Lawrence Summers, was president of Harvard University from 2001 until 2006, and Harold Shapiro was president of Princeton University from 1992 until 2000.
There are an estimated 4,000 Jewish students at the University of California, Berkeley.
Jewishness in the United States is considered an ethnic identity as well as a religious one. See Ethnoreligious group.
Jewish religious practice in America is quite varied. Among the 4.3 million American Jews described as “strongly connected” to Judaism, over 80% report some sort of active engagement with Judaism, ranging from attendance at daily prayer services on one end of the spectrum to as little as attendance Passover Seders or lighting Hanukkah candles on the other.
A 2003 Harris Poll found that 16% of American Jews go to the synagogue at least once a month, 42% go less frequently but at least once a year, and 42% go less frequently than once a year.
The survey found that of the 4.3 million strongly connected Jews, 46% belong to a synagogue. Among those households who belong to a synagogue, 38% are members of Reform synagogues, 33% Conservative, 22% Orthodox, 2% Reconstructionist, and 5% other types. Traditionally, Sephardic and Mizrahis do not have different branches (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc.) but usually remain observant and religious. The survey discovered that Jews in the Northeast and Midwest are generally more observant than Jews in the South or West. Reflecting a trend also observed among other religious groups, Jews in the Northwestern United States are typically the least observant.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable trend of secular American Jews returning to a more observant, in most cases, Orthodox, lifestyle. Such Jews are called baalei teshuva (“returners”, see also Repentance in Judaism).
The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that around 3.4 million American Jews call themselves religious out of a general Jewish population of about 5.4 million. The number of Jews who identify themselves as only culturally Jewish has risen from 20% in 1990 to 37% in 2008, according to the study. In the same period, the number of all US adults who said they had no religion rose from 8% to 15%. Jews are more likely to be secular than Americans in general, the researchers said. About half of all US Jews including those who consider themselves religiously observant claim in the survey that they have a secular worldview and see no contradiction between that outlook and their faith, according to the study’s authors. Researchers attribute the trends among American Jews to the high rate of intermarriage and “disaffection from Judaism” in the United States.
About one-sixth of American Jews maintain kosher dietary standards.
American Jews are more likely to be atheist or agnostic than most Americans, especially so compared with Protestants or Catholics. A 2003 poll found that while 79% of Americans believe in God, only 48% of American Jews do, compared with 79% and 90% for Catholics and Protestants respectively. While 66% of Americans said they were “absolutely certain” of God’s existence, 24% of American Jews said the same. And though 9% of Americans believe there is no God (8% Catholic and 4% Protestant), 19% of American Jews believe God does not exist.
A 2009 Harris Poll showed American Jews as the religious group most accepting of evolution, with 80% believing in evolution, compared to 51% for Catholics, 32% for Protestants, and 16% of Born-again Christians. They were also less likely to believe in supernatural phenomena such as miracles, angels, or heaven.
Jews are overrepresented in American Buddhism specifically among those whose parents are not Buddhist, and without Buddhist heritage, with between one fifth and 30% of all American Buddhists identifying as Jewish though only 2% of Americans are Jewish. Nicknamed Jubus, an increasing number of American Jews have begun adopting Buddhist spiritual practice, while at the same time continuing to identify with and practice Judaism. Notable American Jewish Buddhists include: Robert Downey, Jr.Allen Ginsberg,Goldie Hawn and daughter Kate Hudson, Steven Seagal, Adam Yauch of the rap group The Beastie Boys, and Garry Shandling. Film makers the Coen Brothers have been influenced by Buddhism as well for a time. Founder of the New York City Marathon, Fred Lebow, dabbled in Buddhism for a brief period.
Today, American Jews are a distinctive and influential group in the nation’s politics. Jeffrey S. Helmreich writes that the ability of American Jews to effect this through political or financial clout is overestimated, that the primary influence lies in the group’s voting patterns.
“Jews have devoted themselves to politics with almost religious fervor,” writes Mitchell Bard, who adds that Jews have the highest percentage voter turnout of any ethnic group (84% reported being registered to vote).
Though the majority (6070%) of the country’s Jews identify as Democratic, Jews span the political spectrum, with those at higher levels of observance being far more likely to vote Republican than their less observant and secular counterparts.
Owing to high Democratic identification in the 2008 United States Presidential Election, 78% of Jews voted for Democrat Barack Obama versus 21% for Republican John McCain, despite Republican attempts to connect Obama to Muslim and pro-Palestinian causes. It has been suggested that running mate Sarah Palin’s conservative views on social issues may have nudged Jews away from the McCainPalin ticket. In the 2012 United States presidential election, 69% of Jews voted for the Democratic incumbent President Obama.
Helmreich describes Jews as “a uniquely swayable bloc” as a result of Republican stances on Israel. A paper by Dr. Eric Uslaner of the University of Maryland disagrees, at least with regard to the 2004 election: “Only 15% of Jews said that Israel was a key voting issue. Among those voters, 55% voted for Kerry (compared to 83% of Jewish voters not concerned with Israel).” The paper goes on to point out that negative views of Evangelical Christians had a distinctly negative impact for Republicans among Jewish voters, while Orthodox Jews, traditionally more conservative in outlook as to social issues, favored the Republican Party. A New York Times article suggests that the Jewish movement to the Republican party is focused heavily on faith-based issues, similar to the Catholic vote, which is credited for helping President Bush taking Florida in 2004. However, Natan Guttman, The Forwards Washington bureau chief, dismisses this notion, writing in Moment that while “[i]t is true that Republicans are making small and steady strides into the Jewish communitya look at the past three decades of exit polls, which are more reliable than pre-election polls, and the numbers are clear: Jews vote overwhelmingly Democratic,” an assertion confirmed by the most recent presidential election results.
Though some critics charged that Jewish interests were partially responsible for the push to war with Iraq, Jewish Americans were actually more strongly opposed to the Iraq war from its onset than any other religious group, or even most Americans. The greater opposition to the war was not simply a result of high Democratic identification among U.S. Jews, as Jews of all political persuasions were more likely to oppose the war than non-Jews who shared the same political leanings.
A 2013 Pew Research Center survey suggests that American Jews’ views on domestic politics are intertwined with the community’s self-definition as a persecuted minority who benefited from the liberties and societal shifts in the United States and feel obligated to help other minorities enjoy the same benefits. American Jews across age and gender lines tend to vote for and support politicians and policies supported by the Democratic Party. On the other hand, Orthodox American Jews have domestic political views that are more similar to their religious Christian neighbors.
American Jews are largely supportive of LGBT rights with 79% responding in a Pew poll that homosexuality should be “accepted by society”. A split on homosexuality exists by level of observance. Reform rabbis in America perform same-sex marriages as a matter of routine, and there are fifteen LGBT Jewish congregations in North America. Reform, Reconstructionist and, increasingly, Conservative, Jews are far more supportive on issues like gay marriage than Orthodox Jews are. A 2007 survey of Conservative Jewish leaders and activists showed that an overwhelming majority supported gay rabbinical ordination and same-sex marriage. Accordingly, 78% percent of Jewish voters rejected Proposition 8, the bill that banned gay marriage in California. No other ethnic or religious group voted as strongly against it.
In considering the trade-off between the economy and environmental protection, American Jews were significantly more likely than other religious groups (excepting Buddhism) to favor stronger environmental protection.
Jews in America also overwhelmingly oppose current United States marijuana policy. Eighty-six percent of Jewish Americans opposed arresting nonviolent marijuana smokers, compared to 61% for the population at large and 68% of all Democrats. Additionally, 85% of Jews in the United States opposed using federal law enforcement to close patient cooperatives for medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal, compared to 67% of the population at large and 73% of Democrats.
Since the time of the last major wave of Jewish immigration to America (over 2,000,000 Jews from Eastern Europe who arrived between 1890 and 1924), Jewish secular culture in the United States has become integrated in almost every important way with the broader American culture. Many aspects of Jewish American culture have, in turn, become part of the wider culture of the United States.
Most American Jews today are native English speakers. A variety of other languages are still spoken within some American Jewish communities, communities that are representative of the various Jewish ethnic divisions from around the world that have come together to make up America’s Jewish population.
Many of America’s Hasidic Jews, being exclusively of Ashkenazi descent, are raised speaking Yiddish. Yiddish was once spoken as the primary language by most of the several million Ashkenazi Jews who immigrated to the United States. It was, in fact, the original language in which The Forward was published. Yiddish has had an influence on American English, and words borrowed from it include chutzpah (“effrontery”, “gall”), nosh (“snack”), schlep (“drag”), schmuck (“an obnoxious, contemptible person”, euphemism for “penis”), and, depending on ideolect, hundreds of other terms. (See also Yinglish.)
The Persian Jewish community in the United States, notably the large community in and around Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California, primarily speak Persian (see also Judeo-Persian) in the home and synagogue. They also support their own Persian language newspapers. Persian Jews also reside in eastern parts of New York such as Kew Gardens and Great Neck, Long Island.
Many recent Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union speak primarily Russian at home, and there are several notable communities where public life and business are carried out mainly in Russian, such as in Brighton Beach in New York City and Sunny Isles Beach in Miami. 2010 estimates of the number of Jewish Russian-speaking households in the New York city area are around 92,000, and the number of individuals are somewhere between 223,000350,000. Another high population of Russian Jews can be found in the Richmond District of San Francisco where Russian markets stand alongside the numerous Asian businesses.
American Bukharan Jews speak Bukhori, a dialect of Persian, and Russian. They publish their own newspapers such as the Bukharian Times and a large portion live in Queens, New York. Forest Hills in the New York City borough of Queens is home to 108th Street, which is called by some “Bukharian Broadway”, a reference to the many stores and restaurants found on and around the street that have Bukharian influences. Many Bukharians are also represented in parts of Arizona, Miami, Florida, and areas of Southern California such as San Diego.
Classical Hebrew is the language of most Jewish religious literature, such as the Tanakh (Bible) and Siddur (prayerbook). Modern Hebrew is also the primary official language of the modern State of Israel, which further encourages many to learn it as a second language. Some recent Israeli immigrants to America speak Hebrew as their primary language.
There are a diversity of Hispanic Jews living in America. The oldest community is that of the Sephardic Jews of New Netherland. Their ancestors had fled Spain or Portugal during the Inquisition for the Netherlands, and then came to New Netherland. Though there is dispute over whether they should be considered Hispanic. Some Hispanic Jews, particularly in Miami and Los Angeles, immigrated from Latin America. The largest groups are those that fled Cuba after the communist revolution (known as Jewbans), and Argentine Jews. Argentina is the Latin American country with the largest Jewish population. There are a large number of synagogues in the Miami area that give services in Spanish. The last Hispanic Jewish community would be those that recently came from Portugal or Spain, after Spain and Portugal granted citizenship to the descendants of Jews who fled during the Inquisition. All of the above listed Hispanic Jewish groups speak either Spanish or Ladino.
Although American Jews have contributed greatly to American arts overall, there remains a distinctly Jewish American literature. Jewish American literature often explores the experience of being a Jew in America, and the conflicting pulls of secular society and history.
Yiddish theater was very well attended, and provided a training ground for performers and producers who moved to Hollywood in the 1920s. Many of the early Hollywood moguls and pioneers were Jewish. Many individual Jews have made significant contributions to American popular culture. There have been many Jewish American actors and performers, ranging from early 1900s actors, to classic Hollywood film stars, and culminating in many currently known actors. The field of American comedy includes many Jews. The legacy also includes songwriters and authors, for example the author of the song “Viva Las Vegas” Doc Pomus, or Billy the Kid composer Aaron Copland. Many Jews have been at the forefront of women’s issues.
Since 1845, a total of 34 Jews have served in the Senate, including the 14 present-day senators noted above. Judah P. Benjamin was the first practicing Jewish Senator, and would later serve as Confederate Secretary of War and Secretary of State during the Civil War. Rahm Emanuel served as Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. The number of Jews elected to the House rose to an all-time high of 30. Eight Jews have been appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
The Civil War marked a transition for American Jews. It killed off the antisemitic canard, widespread in Europe, to the effect that Jews are cowardly, preferring to run from war rather than serve alongside their fellow citizens in battle.
At least twenty eight American Jews have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
More than 550,000 Jews served in the U.S. military during World War II; about 11,000 were killed and more than 40,000 were wounded. There were three recipients of the Medal of Honor, 157 recipients of the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Cross, or Navy Cross, and about 1600 recipients of the Silver Star. About 50,000 other decorations and awards were given to Jewish military personnel, for a total of 52,000 decorations. During this period, Jews were approximately 3.3 percent of the total U.S. population but constituted about 4.23 percent of the U.S. armed forces. About 60 percent of all Jewish physicians in the United States under 45 years of age were in service as military physicians and medics.
Many Jewish physicists, including project lead J. Robert Oppenheimer, were involved in the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb. Many of these were refugees from Nazi Germany or from antisemitic persecution elsewhere in Europe.
Jews have been involved in the American folk music scene since the late 19th century; these tended to be refugees from Central and Eastern Europe, and significantly more economically disadvantaged than their established Western European and Sephardic coreligionists. Historians see it as a legacy of the secular Yiddish theater, cantorial traditions and a desire to assimilate. By the 1940s Jews had become established in the American folk music scene.
Examples of the major impact Jews have had in the American folk music arena include, but are not limited to: Moe Asch the first to record and release much of the music of Woodie Guthrie, including “This Land is Your Land” (see The Asch Recordings) in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, and Guthrie wrote Jewish songs. Guthrie married a Jew and their son Arlo became influential in his own right. Asch’s one man corporation Folkways Records, also released much of the music of Leadbelly and Pete Seeger from the 40’s and 50’s. Asch’s large music catalog was voluntarily donated to the Smithsonian.
Three of the four creators of the Newport Folk Festival, Wein, Bikel and Grossman (Seeger is not) were Jewish. Albert Grossman put together Peter, Paul and Mary, of which Yarrow is Jewish. Oscar Brand, from a Canadian Jewish family, has the longest running radio program “Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival” which has been on air consecutively since 1945 from NYC. And is the first American broadcast where the host himself will answer any personal correspondence.
Influential group The Weavers, successor to the Almanac Singers, led by Pete Seeger, had a Jewish manager, and 2 of the 4 members of the group were Jewish (Gilbert and Hellerman). The B-side of “Good Night Irene” had the Hebrew folk song personally chosen for the record by Pete Seeger “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena”.
The influential folk music magazine ‘Sing Out!’ was co-founded and edited by Irwin Silber in 1951, and edited by him until 1967, when the magazine stopped publication for decades. Rolling Stone magazine’s first music critic Jon Landau is of German Jewish descent. Izzy Young who created the legendary Folklore Center in NY, and currently the Folklore Centrum near Mariatorget in Sdermalm, Sweden, which relates to American and Swedish folk music.
“[The behind the scenes folk scene] Was at the very least 50 percent Jewish, and they adopted the music as part of their assimilation into the Anglo-American tradition which itself was largely an artificial construct but none the less provided us with some common ground”.
Jews have been involved in both financial thought from many diverting perspectives, and practical investment in the U.S. During the colonial era, before the establishment of the U.S.A. Jews were the first non-Protestants to receive rights to trade fur, from the Dutch and Swedish controlled colonies. The colonial United Kingdom honored after transitioning control of the colonies. During the Revolutionary War, Haym Solomon gave up his fortune to help create America’s first semi-central bank, and advised Alexander Hamilton on the building of America’s financial system.
American Jews in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries played a major role in the American financial services industry, both at investment banks and investment funds. German Jewish bankers began to assume a major role in American finance in the 1830s when government and private borrowing to pay for canals, railroads and other internal improvements increased rapidly and significantly. Men such as August Belmont (Rothschild’s agent in New York and a leading Democrat), Philip Speyer, Jacob Schiff (at Kuhn, Loeb & Company), Joseph Seligman, Philip Lehman (of Lehman Brothers), Jules Bache, and Marcus Goldman (of Goldman Sachs) illustrate this financial elite. As was true of their non-Jewish counterparts, family, personal, and business connections, a reputation for honesty and integrity, ability, and a willingness to take calculated risks were essential to recruit capital from widely scattered sources. The families and the firms which they controlled were bound together by religious and social factors, and by the prevalence of intermarriage. These personal ties fulfilled real business functions before the advent of institutional organization in the 20th century. Nevertheless, antisemitic elements often falsely targeted them as key players in a supposed Jewish cabal conspiring to dominate the world.
Since the late 20th century have Jews played a major role in the hedge fund industry, according to Zuckerman (2009) Thus SAC Capital Advisors,Soros Fund Management,Och-Ziff Capital Management,GLG PartnersRenaissance Technologies and Elliott Management Corporation are large hedge funds cofounded by Jews. They have also played a pivotal role in the private equity industry, co-founding some of the largest firms, such as Blackstone,Cerberus Capital Management,TPG Capital,BlackRock,Carlyle Group,Warburg Pincus, and KKR.
Paul Warburg, one of the leading advocates of the establishment of a central bank in the U.S. and one of the first governors of the newly established Federal Reserve System, came from a prominent Jewish family in Germany. Since then, several Jews have served as chairmen of the Fed, including the prior Chairman Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan. The current Chairwoman Janet Yellen is also Jewish.
With to the Jewish penchant to be drawn to white collar professional jobs and having excelled at intellectual pursuits, many Jews have also become been remarkably successful as an entrepreneurial and professional minority in the United States. Jewish culture also has a strong tradition, emphasis and respect for money, financial acumen, business, commerce, and entrepreneurship resulting many Jews to start their own businesses, especially family businesses that could be passed down from one generation to the next as well as serve as an asset, source of income and layering a strong financial groundwork for the family’s overall socioeconomic prosperity. Within the Jewish American cultural sphere, Jewish Americans have also developed a strong culture of entrepreneurship as excellence in entrepreneurship and engagement in business and commerce is highly prized in Jewish culture.
American Jews have also been drawn to various disciplines within academia such as sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy and linguistics (see Secular Jewish culture for some of the causes), and have played a disproportionate role in numerous academic domains. Jewish American intellectuals such as Saul Bellow, Ayn Rand, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Friedman, and Elie Wiesel have made a major impact within mainstream American public life. Of the United States top 200 most influential intellectuals, 50% are fully Jewish with 76% of Jewish Americans overall having at least one Jewish parent. Of American Nobel Prize winners, 37 percent have been Jewish Americans (18 times the percentage of Jews in the population), as have been 61 percent of the John Bates Clark Medal in economics recipients (thirty-five times the Jewish percentage).
In the business world, while Jewish Americans only constitute less than 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, they occupied 7.7 percent of board seats at various U.S. corporations. In New York real estate, 18 of the top 20 richest real estate moguls based in New York City are of Jewish extraction. American Jews also have a strong presence in NBA ownership. Of the 30 teams in the NBA, there are 14 Jewish principal owners. Several Jews have served as NBA commissioners including prior NBA commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver.
Since many careers in science, business, and academia generally pay well, Jewish Americans also tend to have a higher average income than most Americans. The 20002001 National Jewish Population Survey shows that the median income of a Jewish family is $54,000 a year and 34% of Jewish households report income over $75,000 a year.
The 1993 Oslo Agreement made this split in the Jewish community official. Prime Minister Yitzak Rabins handshake with Yasir Arafat during the September 13 White House ceremony elicited dramatically opposed reactions among American Jews. To the liberal universalists the accord was highly welcome news. As one commentator put it, after a year of tension between Israel and the United States, “there was an audible sigh of relief from American and Jewish liberals. Once again, they could support Israel as good Jews, committed liberals, and loyal Americans.” The community “could embrace the Jewish state, without compromising either its liberalism or its patriotism”. Hidden deeper in this collective sense of relief was the hope that, following the peace with the Palestinians, Israel would transform itself into a Western-style liberal democracy, featuring a full separation between the state and religion. Not accidentally, many of the leading advocates of Oslo, including the Yossi Beilin, the then Deputy Foreign Minister, cherish the belief that a “normalized” Israel would become less Jewish and more democratic. However, to some right wing Jews, the peace treaty was worrisome. From their perspective, Oslo was not just an affront to the sanctity of how they interpreted their culture, but also a personal threat to the lives and livelihood settlers, in the West Bank and Gaza AKA “Judea and Samaria”. For these Jews, such as Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist organization of America, and Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, the peace treaty amounted to an appeasement of Palestinian terrorism. They and others repeatedly warned that the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA) would pose a serious security threat to Israel.
Religious Jews regarded those who assimilated with horror, and Zionists campaigned against assimilation as an act of treason.
American Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia