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Why be Jewish: the essential Jewish values of Europe’s Jews

Author(s): Dr Daniel Staetsky
Date: 30 May 2022

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Why are people Jewish? What really matters to them? Is Jewish identity about God and faith, Israel, celebrating festivals with family or commemorating traumas from the past? JPR – The Institute for Jewish Policy Research – has released the second of four mini-reports based on its groundbreaking report ‘The Jewish identities of European Jews’, published earlier this year, focusing on which aspects of Jewishness people find most compelling.

The new mini-report highlights different aspects of what European Jews defined as important to their Jewish identity:

  • ’Remembering the Holocaust’ is the most important aspect of respondents’ Jewish identities, closely followed by combating antisemitism;
  • Spain is the only country where ‘feeling part of the Jewish People’ is found to be the most important aspect of their Jewish identity;
  • ‘Believing in God’ is among the least important aspects of Jewishness to European Jews;
  • Religious belief, Jewish peoplehood, support for Israel and charity are all more important to more religiously observant Jews than to less religiously observant ones.

The report is based on research conducted in twelve European Union Member States in 2018, which, together, are home to about 80% of the Jewish population of Europe. The study includes the opinions and experiences of over 16,000 respondents – the largest sample of Jews ever surveyed in Europe.