If you work in or adjacent to the Jewish nonprofit world, you know that the release of a study on Jewish identity can launch a thousand op-ed pieces, even if the findings themselves are not entirely surprising. The arrival of such a study can elicit excitement or flat-out panic, and reactions swirl together violently into an intellectual and emotional froth. As passionate consumers - educators, academics, rabbis, Jewish communal workers, pundits and theorists - assess this information, each draws out the information that serves - or threatens - them most, taking to their computers to provide analysis about how the findings indicate Jews must alter our priorities in order to thrive, or - more frequently - to merely survive.Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new study about Jewish identity. (Not only is this study not on their homepage, a search for "Jewish identity" brought up "Faith Online," and for "Jewish" yielded "Wired Churches, Wired Temples.") According to a summary on eJewishPhilanthropy, "The survey suggests that Jewish identity is changing in America, where one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion. This shift in Jewish self-identification reflects broader changes in the U.S. public, whose share of religious 'nones' is similar (20%)." It also included the statistic that 34 percent of those surveyed said you could still be Jewish if you believe that Jesus was the Messiah. (That was a surprising one, actually.)
If statistics like these fill your brain with a froth of new ideas about how this survey is good or bad for the Jews, here are some guidelines designed to help you in writing your response, whether it's an academic article, a sermon or a Facebook post. These are tried and true methods that will enable your treatise to resonate - but don't use them all in one place. Pick and choose wisely, for greatest impact.