Jewish Americans

Jewish Americans have been part of the country’s fabric since a small community settled in New Amsterdam (later known as New York) in 1654. As of 2015, 4.2 million adults (1.8% of the U.S. population) self-identified as Jewish. When children and individuals of Jewish heritage who do not consider themselves religious are included, that number rises to 7.2 million, making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. 

Identifying as Jewish can mean several things. It includes those who consider themselves religious, and people who have Jewish ancestry on either one (usually the maternal line) or both sides of their family. There are secular Jews who are not religious, religious Jews of Jewish ancestry, and people without Jewish heritage, who have converted to Judaism.

Jewish Americans fall into multiple ethnic groups, including non-Hispanic whites (88.8%), African Americans (1.7%), latinx Americans (6.2%), and others (3.3%).

The Jewish American community encompasses a broad range of cultural traditions and religious observance. The primary religious denominations in the U.S. are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. For both non-religious and observant Jews, Jewish Community Centers around the U.S. play an important role in connecting Jews to one another. They often host Jewish Day Schools, Hebrew Schools, athletic facilities, and community events. 

Jewish Americans as a whole tend to be well educated, with a quarter of the population making over $150,000. In a Pew study from 2013, the majority of Jewish Americans said that they believed the gay community and Muslims faced more discrimination that they did. 

Jewish Americans span the political spectrum (54.2% Democrats, 14.1% Republicans, 31.7% Other). Opinions are very divided on the topic of US-Israeli relations and Israel's policies toward Palestinians. Jewish Americans who support hardline Israeli policies and oppose a two-state solution in the region tended to support Trump in the 2016 election in spite of the anti-semitic rhetoric of the administration.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an Orthodox Jew, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, converted to Judaism in 2009.

This page will track Trump’s actions and statements that impact Jewish Americans.

Source: Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis

See also: Anti-Semitism, Israel, Hate Crimes, Jared Kushner

Timeline

 

Analysis


There are many issues within the Trump administration that concern Jewish Americans.

  • His chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, is the former head of the white nationalist propaganda site Breitbart.
  • Trump has received enthusiastic support from David Duke, the head of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Hate crimes directed at Jewish Americans, including repeated bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers have increased dramatically since Trump's election.
  • Anti-semitism is a key feature of the white nationalist (alt-right) movement in the US that helped elect Trump to the White House.
  • The Muslim Immigration Ban reminds many Jewish Americans of the failure of the US to take in refugees from Nazi-controlled Germany during WWII. Many of those refugees who were turned away, including Anne Frank, were among the six million Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. 
  • On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump did not mention the six million Jews that lost their lives, an omission that deeply disturbed many in the Jewish American community.

Assessments

Emma Green–The Atlantic

In her Sep. 4, 2016, article, Green examines What Should American Jews Make of Ivanka Trump?:

Ivanka is tacitly expected to be a public advocate for Jewish identity and interests, and yet the community is deeply divided over the messages she delivers as a surrogate for her father’s campaign—ones that many reject outright.

Emma Green–The Atlantic

In her Nov. 10, 2016, article, Green examines The Jewish Struggle to Understand Trump's Election:

On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. The next day, a man discovered that someone had painted swastikas on an abandoned storefront in South Philly, placing the symbols next to Trump’s name and the words 'Sieg Heil,' a salute used by Nazis during World War II. 

Shmuel Rosner–The New York Times

In his Nov. 12, 2016, article, Rosner looks at "How Donald Trump Will Divide American and Israeli Jews":

The Trump administration will not represent the first time that Israeli and American Jews have been at odds over American politics. In fact, in the last 16 years this has been the norm. 

Jill Jacobs and Daniel Sokatch–The Washington Post

In their Nov. 21, 2016, article, Jacobs and Sokatch lay out the case for "Why Jews Have a Special Obligation to Resist Trump":

Our history has taught us that autocracy does not arrive all at once, but through the slow erosion of individual liberties and the pitting of one group against another."

Sammy Nickalls–The Esquire

In a Nov. 21, 2016, article, Nickalls discusses "'Are Jews People' Was an Actual, Real Discussion Topic on CNN":

I am Jewish, but am I human? Sounds like a pretty ridiculous question, but apparently, it's not in 2016. That's right: A very real CNN chyron (TV news lingo for headline on the lower part of the screen) on Monday afternoon read 'Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews are People.'