Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Twilight of the liberal Jew: Jewish Americans are shifting rightwards

Who are the most politically influential American Jews under the age of 40? There are five in the top tier. Ben Shapiro is an orthodox Jew who is the face and cofounder of what is arguably the leading conservative alt-media company, The Daily Wire. Chaya Raichik is an orthodox Jewish woman who runs the “Libs of TikTok” Twitter/X account, which is the main organising force behind resistance to gender ideology. Stephen Miller, who was senior advisor to President Donald Trump, might be the most important anti-immigration activist. Vox cofounder Ezra Klein is the king of establishment-liberal wonkery. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seems more concerned with building his metaverse dystopia than influencing politics, though he often follows orders from the Democratic Party.

Compared to a list of prominent boomer Jews, the list of millennials skews heavily conservative and religious. This is not a fluke. The times they are a-changin’, and the era of the liberal Jew is coming to an end. When Elena Kagan was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010, she was one of three Jewish justices. With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and Stephen Breyer’s retirement, Kagan is the only one left. In the 1990s, half of the congressmen from New York City were Jews. 76-year-old Jerry Nadler is now the last one.

The main reason for this shift is demographics. With rare exceptions, the first step to becoming a prominent liberal Jew is to be born to liberal Jewish parents. That is becoming a rare occurrence. According to Pew Research Center, amongst non-orthodox Jews who married in the 2010s, the intermarriage rate was 72 per cent. The generation before, the intermarriage rate was a little lower, but still over 50 per cent. Amongst the offspring of intermarriage, 82 per cent go on to marry non-Jews. Even when liberal Jews do marry each other, their fertility is low. Pew reports that the average non-orthodox Jew has 1.7 children compared with 4.1 children for orthodox Jews. As Covid taught us, exponential growth catches up with you faster than you expect. In 2012, 74 per cent of all Jewish children in New York City were orthodox, and by now the per centage is certainly higher. In a few decades, secular liberals will be swamped. Amongst the five Jews I mentioned above, only the conservatives (Shapiro, Raichik and Miller) have Jewish spouses.


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