What Does It Mean To Be Jewish?

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Table ready for traditional Seder ritual during the Jewish holiday of Passover. More and more young Jews identify more with the cultural aspects of their faith than with the religion itself.
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For the estimated five million Jews living in America, religion and culture come together at the synagogue where the faithful gather weekly to practice their religion.

But for millennials who were raised Jewish, only 68 percent identify as Jews by religion, while 32 percent describe themselves as having no religion, only identifying with the Jewish faith through ancestry, ethnicity or culture.

If not religion, what defines the Jewish identity today? Is it a love of cultural traditions and food, or a deep understanding of the Torah and religious practices?

We talk to three young Jewish Americans about their Jewish identity and how it has changed over the years.

Michael Yashinsky, a director at the Detroit Opera House, grew up in a conservative Jewish household, but he now follows his own blend of secular and religious Judaism. Adam Chandler is non-religious but writes for the Jewish magazine Tablet. Sarah Seltzer works at the National Council for Jewish Women but is also a self-proclaimed atheist. They share their stories of discovering what it means to be Jewish.

Join The Takeaway for a live online chat on religion this Friday at 2:00 PM Eastern. Visit TheTakeaway.org to participate in a discussion about the role of faith in America with our host John Hockenberry and Lisa Pearce, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.