How Republicans Define Jewishness

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Jennifer Siegel of the Forward has turned in another fine piece of reporting, this on the fact that Republicans count their Jewish vote in the recent election at 26 percent, while the Associated Press puts it at half that, 13 percent. Siegel shows that the Republican statisticians define Jewishness with a high bar: synagogue attendance. By leaving out the unaffiliated or the secularized, Republicans are able to contend that they are gaining Jewish numbers.

Myself I think there’s something to the Republican argument. The more religious you are, the more conservative your politics tend to be. The more unaffiliated and assimilated you are, the more leftleaning. And though I’m for a big tent in terms of Jewishness, the Republican argument does touch on a significant divide: the extent to which conservative, religiously-identified Jews dominate Jewish organizational life, and the policy positions the organizations endorse. (C.f., Palestine, the Occupation; and its sequel, Iraq, the Occupation)

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