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Symbolic Ethnicity or Religion among Jews in the United States: A Test of Gansian Hypotheses

J. Alan Winter
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Mar., 1996), pp. 233-247
DOI: 10.2307/3512276
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3512276
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Symbolic Ethnicity or Religion among Jews in the United States: A Test of Gansian Hypotheses
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Abstract

Hypotheses derived from Gans' discussion of symbolic ethnicity are tested using a national survey of American Jews. Contrary to Gans' hypothesis, how one "feels" about being Jewish is related to Jewish religious observances and affiliations. However, the specific content of what it means to be a Jew in the United States is less closely associated with Jewish behavior. Finally, Jewish religious observances, affiliations and attitudes decline with increasing generations-in-the-US, as Gans predicts, although mainly among the middle-aged. Overall, Jews in the United States have not retreated into symbolic ethnicity. As an ethno-religious group, religion provides a vehicle for a distinctive Jewish identity.

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