April 14, 2014

Attending a Seder is common practice for American Jews

70%

Percentage of U.S. Jews who say they participated in a Seder last year.

Jewish participation in SederThe Jewish festival of Passover begins at sundown tonight, when many Jews will gather with family and friends for the first of two Seders. While the exact nature of a Seder varies, Jews traditionally read from a book known as the Haggadah – or “telling” in Hebrew – and retell the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt before eating a festive meal.

Among several common traditions are a Seder plate with symbolic foods, a reading of the “four questions” to explain the uniqueness of Passover and a search by children for a hidden afikoman (a broken piece of matzah, the unleavened bread that is eaten during the holiday).

A 2013 Pew Research survey of Jewish Americans found that attending a Seder is an extremely common practice for the group. While only 23% of U.S. Jews said they attend religious services at least monthly, 70% said they participated in a Seder last year. That includes 42% of Jews of no religion (those who consider themselves Jewish in some way, were raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent, but say they are atheist or agnostic or have no particular religion.)

Participation in a Seder is more common among Jewish Americans than any of the other practices we asked about, including fasting for all or part of Yom Kippur (53%) – often considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar – and always or usually lighting Sabbath candles (23%).

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices

  1. is Editor at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

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