Religious Studies Chair to lead discussion on Jewish experience, religion in America

Peter J. Haas CWRUPeter J. Haas, the Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies, will lead this week’s Public Affairs Discussion Group. He’ll lead a talk on “What the Jewish Experience Tells Us About Religion in American Today” March 21, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Kelvin Smith Library’s Dampeer Room.

A recent Pew Religion & Public Life Project poll reported that the proportion of U.S. adults who identified their religion as Jewish had declined by about half since the late 1950s; just less than 2 percent of all U.S. adults identify as Jewish, and 22 percent of Jews “now describe themselves as having no religion.”

But the share of Jews who express no religion is very similar to the levels within the general public. One aspect of U.S. politics is that, as religious divisions have become more central to partisanship and fundamentalist Christianity has become a more visible force, the proportion of voters who are not religious also has risen.

So, the survey data about Jews raises larger questions about religion and society in the United States. Haas plans to address both aspects of the issues raised by the Pew research.

Since 1989, faculty, emeriti, students and staff have gathered on Fridays for a brown-bag lunch and to discuss topics in public affairs.

For updates and more information about the Friday lunch schedule, visit