American Jews with most education are least religious, study finds

NEW YORK (JTA) – American Jews with the highest level of education are the least religious, according to a new study.

The Pew Research Center study on religiosity and education in the United States published Wednesday found that the more years of schooling American Jews have, the less religious they are. Most Jews who have not graduated from college believe in God, and nearly 40 per cent say religion is important to them. But only about one-quarter of Jews who have graduated from college believe in God and say religion is important to them.

Orthodox Jews are a primary reason for the difference. The study said on average, the Orthodox are more religious and less educated than their non-Orthodox counterparts. But education accounts for a split within Orthodox Jews as well: 93 per cent of Orthodox Jews who have not graduated from college believe in God, while 82 per cent of Orthodox college graduates do. More than 80 per cent of both groups say religion is important to them.

Among non-Orthodox Jews, the differences are even starker: Nearly double the number of non-college graduates believe in God (45 per cent) as do college graduates (23 per cent). Nearly 30 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews without college degrees say religion is important to them; the number falls to 20 per cent among those who have graduated.

Both groups have low rates of prayer attendance: 12 per cent of college graduates and 17 per cent of non-graduates attend services at least weekly.

A Pew study from December found that Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, with an average of more than 13 years of formal schooling.

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